The Accomplishment of the Christ - Part 3
August 20, 2017 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:
Topic: Evangelism Verse: Luke 2:21–2:38
“THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE CHRIST”
Theme: Jesus accomplished all that is needed for men to enjoy reconciliation to God.
I. He Instigates Obedience – 2:21-24
A. The Submission to God’s Word – vv. 21-22
- From before the time that Jesus was even conceived, Joseph and Mary had been people who had been waiting for the Promised One – the Messiah.
- Those like them were a “godly remnant” of true believers who knew that their hope of reconciliation to God rested in God keeping His Word to provide a Savior for them.
- These people are described in Scripture in the following ways:
- “righteous in the sight of God” – 1:6
- “walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord” – 1:6
- “favored ones” – 1:28, 30
- “belief in the fulfillment of the Word of the Lord” – 1:45
- “filled with the Holy Spirit” – 1:67
- If faith in the Promised One had produced such devotion and obedience to the will of God, how would the arrival of the Messiah impact them – cp. John 8:56; Hebrews 11:13
- We can see the way that faith in the Messiah instigates obedience as we continue to see the way that Joseph and Mary obey the Word of God:
- “And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision” –
- “His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” –
- Such obedience to the Word of God ought to characterize all of those who are looking to Christ Jesus as our Savior and Lord – not in order to gain the favor of God, but because we have already received God’s grace and favor in and through Christ Jesus Himself.
B. The Pursuit of Purity – vv. 22-24
- The hope of salvation through Christ Jesus results in a person striving to be pure – cp. 1 John 3:3
- The same was true for those who were looking forward to the arrival of the redeemer for the 1st Advent – “And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord”
- “purification” – refers to the time required after a woman gives birth before she is considered “clean” and able to resume her participation in the religious rituals of Judaism – cp. Leviticus 12:1-5
- “to present Him to the Lord” – indicates that the 1st born son of every family had to be “ransomed” as God claimed them: “as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called Holy to the Lord’” – Exodus 13:1-2; Numbers 18:15-16.
- In order for this purification to occur, it was necessary that they “… offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord …” – which for poor people was not a lamb or goat, but was “… a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” – cp. Leviticus 12:6-8.
- In sacrificing these birds, Joseph and Mary indicate that they were trusting in the grace of God to remove their sins from them according to His Promise, they were saved by grace through faith – exactly as we are.
- In what ways is your obedience to God’s Word attributable directly to your faith in Christ?
- Do you find a compelling reason to seek constant purification through Christ? If so, why … and how?
- Is your “righteousness” more associated with what you do or what Christ has done? What’s the difference?
II. He Inspires Worship – 2:25-35
A. Worship Must Be Spirit Led – vv. 25b-27
- Jesus’ influence upon Joseph and Mary is clear – as is his influence upon yet another character that is part of that “godly remnant” of genuine believers who were waiting for the Redeemer.
- We are introduced to a man named Simeon – “And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”
- This man’s anticipation of the Christ was Spirit-led – and he was a true believer.
- The effect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in his life was that he was “righteous and devout:”
- “righteous” [δίκαιος] – means to have “highest standards” of conduct; to distinguish between right and wrong for the purpose of maintaining what is right. (Implies that he was “justified”)
- “devout” [εὐλαβής] – comes from two word that mean “to take hold of something + well” or to be cautious not to lose one’s grip on God’s will; to accidentally violate God’s will through negligence or carelessness. (Implies that he was “sanctified”)
- The circumstance is that he was “looking for the consolation of Israel” – a phrase that refers to the hope of the Messiah’s impact on the Nation – cp. Isaiah 51:3, 12
- The fact that this is the chief aspiration of Simeon demonstrates that he was one who was grieved over the consequences of sin that had caused the distresses in Israel – their discipline, removal of the glory of God, the oppression by Rome, the legalistic corruption of Judaism, the prevalence of continued sinful indulgences – that the only answer was the fulfillment of God’s promise re: the Messiah who would come and set it all straight.
- It is interesting to note that the word “consolation” [παράκλησις] is from the same root word used to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit by Jesus – a description of “another [of the same kind] comforter” – cp. John 14:16
- He eagerly awaits the Messiah and was Spirit filled – receiving special guidance from the Lord – “And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the Temple …”
- The Spirit of God is the one in both Testaments (Old & New) who leads believers to worship the Messiah – anticipating him in the OT and reflecting upon Him in the NT) – John 14:16-17
B. Worship Must Be Christ-Centered – vv. 28-32
- The climax of Simeon’s life was “when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms and blessed God …”
- Since the Spirit of God had revealed that he wouldn’t die until he had “seen the Lord’s Christ,” he now declared that life couldn’t get any better – “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your Word.”
- “Lord” [δεσπότης] (despot) is not the common word for Lord, but refers to one who “owns” slaves – having the legal control & authority over another – indicating that Simeon has been a slave obligated to the authority of God in his life.
- However, by being led to the temple to meet the Messiah, God was enabling Simeon to realize the final element in his obligation – to identify the Christ as the “Word” [ῥῆμα] had informed him.
- He realized the worthiness of the child – that He was the personification of God’s glory and redemption – “For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples …”
- He was now prepared to die, not because of a lack of a desire to live, but out of a peace that he had truly seen the salvation found in Christ alone – one toward whom he had looked for salvation.
- This Messiah was not merely a Jewish Savior – but a Savior for “… all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel.”
- “… light of revelation to the Gentiles” – the Nations of the world did not have the exposure to the truth of God’s eternal purpose – as the Jews had enjoyed; this represented the mystery of God’s plan to save men from all people – cp. Isaiah 49:6
- “… and the glory of Your people Israel” – demonstrating that Israel was not the terminus of God’s eternal purposes, but that Israel was a conduit through which all the nations of the earth would be blessed – a privilege or the “glory of Your people”
- It is what God is doing through Jesus Christ that causes the saints to worship Jesus for His salvation – as Joseph and Mary demonstrate: “And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.”.
C. Worship Must Be God-Glorifying – vv. 34-35
- Ultimately, the glory of God is what all of this is about – the fulfilling of God’s eternal purposes.
- That eternal purpose includes the salvation of those who will believe, yet does not include everyone.
- We are told that Simeon, in His worship notes that many will receive Him by God’s grace, and many will not – “And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed …”
- The use of the word “appointed” [κεῖμαι] conveys that this is exactly according to the plan of God; “to be placed” or “destined”
- “fall and rise” provides the order of events in the atonement – Jesus will be rejected as men “fall” [πτῶσις – a downfall, or collapse] in hostility but then will be the means by which many will “rise” [ἀνάστασις – a common word for resurrection] to faith – the two destinies resulting from a person’s response to Jesus Christ – cp. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24.
- “opposed” [ἀντιλέγω] a reference to the antagonism that will prevail in Israel as they verbally call for Him to be crucified.
- He goes further to indicate that this reality will bring great distress as Mary will have to watch her Son suffer – “… and a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
- Surrender to the purpose of God is one of the key elements in genuine worship.
- What role does the Holy Spirit play in your worship? If the Holy Spirit were not involved, how would your worship change?
- Are you excited to worship specifically because of something you have encountered in Christ? If so, what is it?
- How does a person know if their worship is truly pursuing the glory of God?
III. He Incites Evangelism – 2:36-38
A. The Gratitude for Grace – v. 36-38a
- Finally in this section, we see another accomplishment of Christ Jesus in the lives of those who believe in Him – He causes them to spread the word about Him to others.
- It is no surprise that on the heels of Simeon’s declarations of worship, a “second witness” by whom every truth is established would be provided in Anna.
- We are introduced here to a truly godly and pious woman – “And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage and then as a widow to the age of eighty four.”
- The identification of Anna as a “prophetess” does not refer to her predicting the future as much as it does that she was a person who knew and interpreted the Word of God – most likely in the Court of the Women as she encountered women who needed counsel and encouragement – cp. Acts 21:9.
- That she was from the “tribe of Asher” indicates that her ministry, despite not being a Levite, had been out of devotion and gratitude to the Lord – with expectancy of the fulfillment of the Promise.
- The phrasing here suggests that it is possible for her to have lived “eighty four” years as a widow – meaning that she would have been over 100 years old – truly “advanced in years!” – a great sense of credibility in an era when age was revered.
- This woman was a devout servant of the Lord – “She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.”
- She apparently occupied an apartment in the Temple, possibly among the apartments of the priests who stayed there during their two weeks of annual service – “She never left the temple.”
- Her constant occupation was that she engaged in “fastings and prayers:”
- “fastings” [νηστεία] – refers to going hungry in order to express absolute devotion to the Lord; the self-denial that accompanies passionate prayer. It often demonstrates an intense sense that all is not well and there is a desperation for God to act.
- “prayers” [δέησις] – refers to an urgent request for God to meet a need – an appeal or beseeching; it describes someone who is greatly burdened.
- It seems that her great yearning was for God to send the Messiah – that her passion was for the fulfillment of the Word of God.
- “At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God …” – she recognized the answer to her prayers.
- Anna’s heart rejoiced in coming to know the Messiah – God had, by His grace, drawn her heart for decades to serve Him and to pray earnestly for the coming of the Messiah.
- She “began giving thanks to God” [ἀνθομολογέομαι] – lit. this says: “confessing before” – a reference to an awareness that she was before God and she acknowledged that God had fully answered her prayer; declaring to God glory and praise.
B. The Worthiness of Witness – v. 38
- The heart of the believer – driven by devotion, affection, and gratitude – considers Christ Jesus worthy of being honored by others.
- But she also began to speak to everyone, “confessing” constantly that she had found the Messiah – “… and continued to speak of Him …”
- Anna was aware that there are others that are being drawn by God’s Spirit to faith in the Messiah as well - she was wanting to be sure that the yearning in the hearts of others who were waiting for the Messiah was satisfied - “… to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
- In a similar way, Saul was told that he was to go and spread the Good News of Christ to those who would believe – cp. 1 Timothy 1:16; Acts 18:9-11
- We tell others about Christ for several reasons:
- The worthiness of Christ – it demonstrates our love for Him - Acts 1:8
- The commission by Christ – 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
- The elective purposes of God – there are people who will believe – John 10:16
- The need of the sinner – there is a hell to shun – Matthew 7:13-14
- The proof of sanctification – how ungodly to hoard the Good News from others who were as we were.
- Apparently, there were a remnant of whom she was familiar who were devoted to the Word of God and the hope its fulfillment – similar to those who today are truly looking for the Rapture.
- How does faithfulness to the Lord affect the effectiveness of a person’s testimony?
- What does Anna’s example teach us about the matter of faithfulness in sharing our faith?