Last week, I was able to lead our Connect Group lesson via a Facebook live post due to the Coronavirus. This week, we are still not able to meet in our small groups due to the restriction of public gatherings by the Governor of Maryland. As a result, we are going to have to do things a little differently when it comes to church. Our entire service will be virtual. I will be teaching via Facebook live and then our senior pastor will preach a sermon via Facebook live. The church will gather in the virtual sphere, which is a blessing in our modern times. In the last lesson, we learned that Jesus was born to be the King, the Savior, and the Servant. This lesson will focus on Jesus as Servant, Messiah, and Redeemer. We continue to study through the Gospel of Luke. This week, we will continue to look at chapter 2.
I. Dedicated to serve
In Luke 1, we learned that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a good student of the Word of God. She was familiar with the Old Testament passages and had several verses memorized. As we dig in to chapter 2, we will discover that both Mary and Joseph were students of the Word of God.
21 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.
22 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
23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD “),
24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.” (Luke 2)
When Mary encountered the angel Gabriel, she was told that the child who was going to be born to her was to be named Jesus. The name Jesus means “God’s salvation”. Mary and Joseph are obedient to the Lord because when it comes time to name the baby born to them, they name Him Jesus, just as the Lord had said. Not only that but, Mary and Joseph are also students of the Word of God and they obey the teachings of the Old Testament to have the male child circumcised on the 8th day after birth. Mary went through the days of purification as laid out in the Word of God and then they brought Jesus to Jerusalem to be dedicated to serving the Lord. This was commanded in the Old Testament, once again showing us that Mary and Joseph are diligent students of the Word of God. They do not come empty handed when dedicating their son to serving the Lord. They offer the required sacrifice.
“Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.” (Exodus 13:2)
you shall devote to the LORD the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to the LORD. (Exodus 13:12)
Why are the children of Israel to do this?
“For all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am the LORD.” (Numbers 3:13)
This is to be a reminder to the children of Israel that God rescued them from slavery in Egypt by the blood of the Passover lamb. The firstborn males of the family are to be dedicated to serving the Lord. Jesus is the firstborn male of His family and His life is a reminder of the blood of the Passover lamb. John the Baptist made the connection between the two events and we know that he did based on his reaction to seeing Jesus for the first time.
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
Jesus’ dedication is to point back to the blood of the lamb and He is born to be the sacrificial lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus does not come to the earth to be served. Instead, He comes to serve the world and give His life in service. Have you dedicated your life to serving the Lord? How are you serving the people within your sphere of influence? Are you sharing the Good News about the blood of the lamb that takes away the sins of the world? Are you a good student of the Word of God? When you come before the Lord to worship, do you come empty handed?
II. Declared the Messiah
God is going to use a righteous man named Simeon to declare the fact that Jesus is the Messiah. The name Simeon is derived from the Hebrew word “shamah“. In Hebrew, the meaning is to hear/listen with the intent to obey. Simeon is a man who has a relationship with God. He is obedient to the Lord the same way that Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, are obedient to the Lord.
25 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.
26 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.
27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law,
28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.”
33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.
34 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 –
35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul -to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2)
Simeon is described as a righteous and devout man. His desire in life is to call the people of Israel back to a meaningful relationship with the Lord. Simeon is a man who is full of the Holy Spirit and the Lord uses the Holy Spirit to reveal to Simeon the fact that he will live to see the long awaited Messiah of the Lord. Simeon is able to meet Jesus because Jesus’ parents carry out the commands in the Old Testament to dedicate their firstborn Son to the Lord. Simeon blesses Jesus when he sees Him. Upon meeting Jesus, Simeon declares Jesus the Messiah and acknowledges that God keeps His promises. Simeon is also a good student of the Word of God, just like Jesus’ parents are. Simeon quotes from the Old Testament as he blesses Jesus and declares Him the Messiah.
The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. (Isaiah 9:2)
Did you notice how Isaiah 9:2 lines up with Luke 2:31-32? Declaring Jesus the Messiah means that He is the long awaited Savior (Rescuer). God announced the birth of this Savior all the way back in Genesis 3. Do you acknowledge Jesus as the Savior the way that Simeon did? Do you tell others about Jesus being the Savior the way that Simeon did? Are you a student of the Word of God the way that Simeon was?
Finally, we see that Simeon blesses Jesus’ parents. He encourages them by letting them know that their Son will raise up people who are humble and humble people who are proud. Do you bless and encourage the people around you the way that Simeon did? Are you a humble person who will be raised up by Jesus or, are you a proud person who needs to be humbled by Jesus?
III. Described as the Redeemer
The final person introduced to us in this passage is Anna. The name Anna comes from the Hebrew name Hannah and it means “grace” or “gracious“.
36 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,
37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.
38 At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2)
The first thing that we learn about Anna is that she is a prophetess. This means that she has a relationship with God and she shares the Word of God with others. We also discover that Anna has dedicated her life to serving the Lord. She serves the Lord night and day with fasting and praying. Anna is a person who is grateful to the Lord. She has an attitude of gratitude and that is seen in the fact that she gives thanks to God. Gratefulness is the by product of a relationship with God. Gratefulness is not something that comes naturally to us because of our sin nature. Anna recognizes who Jesus is and she describes Him as the Redeemer of Israel. Redemption means that Jesus buys back people from the market place of sin. In other words, by birth, we are sold as slaves to sin. Our sin nature manifests itself from day one. We cannot free ourselves and the only way to pay the bill is to pay with our own lives. Jesus steps up and offers to pay the bill for us so that we can be freed from the penalty and power of sin. Anna understands this and she shares this truth with anyone who will listen. She is a prophetess and she does what a prophet is supposed to do. She shares God’s eternal message of hope with everyone. Have you ever experienced the grace of God? Are you a grateful person? Do you show your gratitude to the Lord? Do you show your gratitude to others? Have you been freed from the slave market of sin? If not, then you need to accept the gift that God offers to you in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Messiah (Savior). He has paid the price for your sins. He resurrected from the dead to rescue you from the power of sin. Are you ready to walk in this reality? Bow your knee to Jesus as Lord and Savior today. It will change your life and your eternal future.