Saturday 7 February 2015

Luke 2 v 21-40
Last Sunday was observed in some Churches as for ‘the Presentation of Christ in the Temple’, otherwise known as Candlemass. In this passage we see Jesus undergoing three ancient ceremonies.

First, like every Jewish boy Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day after birth. This was the only ceremony that could be carried out on the Sabbath it was deemed to be so sacred. The boy also got his name on that day. Today when most of the world seems to be anti-Jewish, Christians should bear well in mind that Jesus was a Jew, born of a Jewish woman, we worship the God of Israel, and we revere a Bible written by Jewish men. If Jesus had not gone through this ceremony He could not have been accepted in the line of David.

The name of Jesus was given by special command of God meaning Saviour, so we know Him as one to deliver us from sin and evil. He had submitted to this ancient ceremony although it was no strictly necessary as the Son of God, which should encourage us to make sacrifices and perform tasks readily in the service of God

The second act related to Jesus being the first born son, which made Him sacred to God. According to Jewish custom the parents could buy back their son for the price of five shekels which had to be paid to the priests within 31 days after birth.

This ritual was to remind the Jews that one night when the Israelites were in Egypt and all the little boys were slain, the Jewish children were spared. Mary and Joseph publicly consecrated their child.

There was also the ceremony of purification of Mary. When a woman bore a son she had to wait 40 days before she could rejoining worship, and 80 days if her child was a girl. When she returned a woman was obliged to take to the Temple a lamb and young pigeon as an offering, but if she was poor and could not afford such just two pigeons. The fact that Mary took the poorer offering indicates the home in which Jesus was brought up in was not a luxurious one.

For a period of 450 years in Jewish history God did not speak to his people. God had promised his prophet Malachi that he would come personally into the world by a Messiah who would bring about salvation and judgement, preceded by a messenger who would prepare the way for him. For all that time the people of God had been waiting for this promised Messiah who would bring judgement and salvation into the world, who would destroy God's enemies and who saw their rightful place in the world as supreme and would one day be realised by another king like David who would attain world supremacy

We meet two older people, a man named Simeon and a woman Anna. Simeon believed things had to be left in God’s hands and God had through the Holy Spirit given him assurance that before he died he would see God’s own appointed one. There was therefore excitement in Simeon's soul when he heard that promise that he would actually witness this great coming. After all those years of silence, at last the promise was going to come true.
When he saw Jesus, he knew that time had come, and he was ready to depart in peace. So we heard him recite the words which have been sung in Anglican Churches through the centuries at Evening services, in which he praised God and foresaw Jesus to be the light of the world.

But, Simeon finishes with some disturbing words. This marvellous salvation through Jesus had a dark side. There will be many who will not accept and follow Jesus; there will be a falling as well as a rising of many in Israel. Jesus will be a sign of division and will be spoken against. He will cause division an conflict; decisions will have to be made for him or against him.

Anna too had been waiting. She was a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. When she saw the holy family, at that very moment she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke shows us there is a place for everyone in God’s Kingdom. Older people able to wait on the Lord; a young woman having a baby to dedicate to God; a husband going to Church with his wife (Not a very common sight now); every person having a role to play.
So in this story we have read that Jesus was born into this world as a baby, offered to God as a child, grew into manhood and faced all the emotions of human life and able to empathise with us in every aspect of life. And tells us He was the true Messiah who would one day give His life in a cruel death that we may be made righteous in Gods sight.

No comments:

Post a Comment