Jesus Is Honored
Description: Simeon and Anna have waited a very long time for the Messiah. When Jesus is brought to the Temple by His parents, these two prophets unleash glorifying praise and honor Jesus.
Keywords: Gospel, Jesus, God, Luke, narrative, Son of God, Bible, Sermon, Bible Fellowship Church, BFC, Whitehall, Northern Lehigh
Date: December 27, 2015
Speaker: Pastor Tim
Scripture: Luke 2:22-38
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Audio: Listen to this Sermon (time 51:54)
Notes: Read Sermon Notes
Transcript (new way)
1 “Jesus is Honored” (Luke 2:22-38) CLARENCE REHRIG: The Psalm writer said open the eyes of my heart. Open our ears and our heart that we may be receptive. Follow along as we read. “And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’ “Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 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 came in the Spirit in the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, ‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the 2 Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel. “And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also) so that the thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’ “And there was a prophetess named Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was 84. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” May God bless the reading of his word. PASTOR SCHMOYER: All right, friends. You’ll need two things. You’ll need your tear-out from the connection card like Tony talked about. We’re going to be referring to that during the message. As well as your blue sheet from today’s bulletin. Today we’re talking about the fact that Jesus is honored, honored by these two prophets; honored by 3 Simeon, honored by Anna. Here Jesus comes into the temple as a young baby. His parents come to dedicate him to the Lord, and we’ll talk about what that means, and just random, random encounters. God brings these two people who were waiting and longing to meet the Christ, and they get to hold the Christ child in their arms and glorify God. Jesus is honored. He’s honored by Simeon and Anna; he’s been honored through much festivities of many, many churches all around the world. Jesus is honored, and I wonder in your life how much honor does Jesus receive through your life, through your lips, through your heart, through what your mind thinks about, what you meditate on throughout the day. Does Jesus gain honor from your life? He certainly did from Simeon and from Anna. Let’s talk about the issues of honor today, the respect, the glorification of Jesus in this passage. So Jesus was born. Last Sunday we talked about the fact that Jesus was born, born in Bethlehem, okay, and laid in where? Where was he laid? CONGREGANT: Manger. PASTOR SCHMOYER: In a manger, which is a nice sanitized word for feeding trough. So Jesus was born, laid in a feeding trough. He received the praise of 4 stinky shepherds. The angels weren’t over the stable, they were in the country giving the news to the shepherds, and these stinky shepherds come and they honor baby Jesus. Luke’s point in including this in the passage is to show how Jesus is very glad to interrelate with humble, humble ordinary folk. That’s why here at Whitehall Bible Fellowship Church our purpose is to introduce ordinary folks to the extraordinary life found in Jesus Christ; ordinary like shepherds, ordinary like Mary and Joseph. They weren’t anything particularly special, they had no honor in themselves. It’s that God chose unlikely candidates. They get honored through God’s divine choice; and you and I, we get to enjoy that as well. So now these unlikely candidates, Joseph and Mary, they obey the law. In verse 22, 23, that God said every time a firstborn male opens the womb, right? So every time there’s a firstborn boy you’re supposed to take the boy to the temple and you’re supposed to perform this ceremony because God said long, long ago (verse 23) in the Law of Moses, a long, long time ago, said every firstborn belongs to me. And so I deserve your firstborn male, but you can keep your firstborn male; here’s what we do. We’re going 5 to do this ceremony to do this transaction. In this process we see that there’s good news, that there’s relief, that there’s release, that there’s a wonderful gift; and so Jesus becomes a gift to his parents as they’re dedicating him. Many of you perhaps have dedicated your children. You’re a parent, you want to dedicate your children; that you’re promising to the Lord, I’m going to raise this child to follow Jesus, I’m going to do all that I can to share with this child the love of Jesus, the forgiveness that Jesus can offer. And I’ll even forgive my child because God has forgiven me, and so I’m going to teach them what forgiveness looks like through my parenting. And we dedicate our children why? Because here Jesus was dedicated by his parents. So it says in verse 22, “the time came for their purification.” In the Old Testament law when a baby is born there are certain rules. We talked about the beauty of a birth, but frankly, let’s be honest. We’ve all been there I think. When a baby is born, it ain’t all pretty, right? Water breaks, lots of goo, but the baby, the baby is cute. Everything else is kind of weird. And then so Moses in the Old Testament, God told Moses there’s going to have to be this process for 6 cleansing. Okay? To cleanse the mother, to cleanse the baby, to celebrate the separation of the baby from the womb. And now this baby is 90 days old. In the Old Testament there’s a certain period of time for a baby girl, a certain period of time for a baby boy, and so you read that in the books of Exodus and Numbers and Leviticus, and now the time has come. I want to read for you just two related to the firstborn, because here it says about in verse 23, “in the Law of the Lord every male who is first to open the womb,” so this is a firstborn boy. I want to read for you some scriptures that show you this, that the firstborn belongs to the Lord. Turn in your Bibles to Exodus, the second book of the Bible, Exodus chapter 15 verse 2. I’m making you work on this most tired of Sundays I’m sure. Consequently, just so we’re all on track here, next Christmas is Sunday. Next Christmas, 2016, is Sunday. So we’ll do some stuff, but we’ll get you out. All right? You have 362 days to worry about that. All right. Exodus 15 verse 2. This is the incorrect passage. I apologize to you, but this one is correct. The next book of the Bible is Leviticus, after that is Numbers. Go to Numbers. I’m really making you work today. It must have been Exodus 25. 7 Someone can correct me afterwards. It’s Numbers 3 verse 12. I’m really making you work. Here it is. Numbers 3, I’ll begin in verse 11. “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine, for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn of the land of Egypt I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast. They shall be mine; I am the Lord.” So what’s God doing in Numbers 3? He’s saying in the nation of Israel every firstborn Jewish boy belongs to God, that they should be the priests in the temple. But Numbers chapter 3 verse 12 says God is telling us instead of you giving me all your firstborn males, I’ll keep all of the Levites and you can all keep your firstborn males. All right? So instead of the firstborn male from Judah, the firstborn male from Issachar, the firstborn male from Zebulun, and so that every family is giving up their firstborn boy to be a temple priest, instead of that you can keep them and I’ll keep for myself, God says, all the Levites, not just the firstborn Levites but all the Levites. And 8 that’s how we’ll do it, so that you can enjoy your firstborns and I’ll enjoy service from these priests we call the Levites. So this is the deal that God said. Why? Because when Passover happened and you were slaves in Egypt and I brought those ten plagues, the frogs and the water turning to blood, the flies, the hail and the fire from heaven, the darkness; and the final, the tenth plague, what was it? The death of who? CONGREGANT: Firstborn. PASTOR SCHMOYER: Every firstborn male of every family, that was the last and final plague. And from the highest house, King Pharaoh, to the lowest slave house, to every barnyard across all of Egypt every firstborn male, human and animal, all died. But God said to the Jews, you’ve been slaves. I’m trying to set you free; I’m trying to shake the foundations of King Pharaoh and everything he trusts in. I’m going to protect you while I harm him. And so your firstborns will die as well, but here’s what you do. Take a male, a male lamb, one year old, take its blood and put it on the doorposts of your house, and when my angel comes to destroy all the firstborns, I won’t enter your house because I’ve seen the blood. This is the power of Passover, from 9 slavery to freedom. Do you hear redemption, do you hear release? This entire passage of Luke is all about this release, the release of Jesus from his obligation to be a priest in the temple and then his release of all of us from our sins. And so God says, all right, from that day of the ten plagues, from the death of the firstborn of all of Egypt all firstborn males have belonged to me, but instead of me keeping them I’ll give them back to you, but here’s what we need to do; we need to do this ceremony. And so if you’re back in Luke chapter 2, we see the ceremony, don’t we? Verse 24, the offering of a sacrifice which was said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now, if you look up that passage of the pigeons or of the turtledoves, this was the very poorest offering. Richer families had to kill a bull or kill a lamb, but the very poorest families had to kill a turtledove or a pigeon. And this shows the humility of Jesus and his family, the very ordinariness, the very lowest of classes, that these poor, young, struggling kids, right, Joseph and Mary, are parents of their own. From such children come other children, but not in Jesus’ case, and they brought this poor offering of 10 two pigeons or two turtledoves. So they brought this offering. Why? To release Jesus from his obligation to be a priest. Consequently Jesus grows up, and what does he become? Not a Levite priest but a priest in God’s heavenly temple. The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is a priest in the heavenly temple the way that the Levite priests are priests in the earthly temple. This is just a shadow, just a symbol of what the real heavenly temple is like, and Jesus is a priest in that house. He’s the high priest according to the order of Melchizedek, and you can read Psalm 110 for more information on that. So now that they finished their duty, they performed this ritual, now son and mother are separate, right? Ninety days after the birth this ceremony took place. And it just so happens (verse 25) that there is this man in Jerusalem named Simeon. I’ve always assumed, wrongly, that Simeon was one of the priests, that Simeon was the priest performing this sacrifice of the two turtledoves or the two pigeons. But it doesn’t say that. He was just a guy living in Jerusalem. He was full of the Holy Spirit, he was just a resident of the city; and he had always been full of the Spirit, he had always been waiting 11 for the Messiah to come, because the Spirit that was within him told him, You won’t die till you see the Messiah. So presumably this man Simeon is an old, old, old guy, right? Because he’s just gasping on breath and he’s ready to die, except he knows that God had made him this promise that you will see the Son of God, you will see the Messiah. All right? Verse 26 says the Holy Spirit told him he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Christ. And I’m not sure which we’re going to see first, whether we’re going to see death or see Christ first. I would love to see Christ, right? That he would return and we wouldn’t need to die; where the trumpets would blow, the rapture, we’d all be called up to heaven; what a rejoicing, rejoicing day that will be. But we will all see Christ, those of us who believe. So whether you see death first or see Christ first, you’re going to see both. Let’s hope that we see Christ first. Verse 27, “He came in the Spirit into the temple.” So it’s almost like, right, this one Tuesday afternoon, whatever day of the week it was — the Bible doesn’t say — Joseph and Mary brought the babe, right, according to the custom of the law, and at that 12 very moment the Spirit of God is stirring in Simeon. In his house, in the other district of the city, and he’s coming to the temple because the Spirit nudged him, the Spirit compelled him. The Spirit said, You’ve been waiting. It’s game day, son; let’s go. And I just want to encourage you. I think what Luke is doing here is he’s setting up something that he’s going to end the book with in chapter 24. Jesus said to his disciples, “Wait in this city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Simeon at the very beginning of the book has the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God directs his steps, the Spirit of God grants him encouragement; but when he’s losing all hope — I’m getting old here, God, I think I’m going to die before you give me my promise. You promised me the Messiah, and I’m getting old, I’m getting older, I’m getting older. Every time he caught a cold I’m sure he’s saying, Now, God, are you really going to keep this promise; and the Spirit within him would say yes, Simeon, yes. I think what Luke is doing by including this story is he’s setting you and I up to have that same common expectation, that the Spirit of Almighty God resides in all of you who believe. He doesn’t turn you into a robot. You use your mind, and often we do 13 against what the Holy Spirit of God wants us to do. Don’t we often chide him, don’t we often grieve him? But the hope of this passage is that the Spirit can grant us encouragement in our time of doubts, in our time of worry, and that the Holy Spirit of God can direct the steps that we ought to take. How often do you go through temptation and you wish that God would grant you some way out of this; that God would help you, to give you the power to say no to that temptation? And I’m here to tell you that that Spirit does direct us. Paul promises in I Corinthians 10 verse 13 that God knows what it’s like for you to go through your temptation, and he hasn’t allowed a temptation to come to you that you can’t undo, that you can’t say no to. In fact God gives you a way of escape when you’re being tempted. I think that is God’s Holy Spirit. For here we see in verse 27 that the Spirit directed Simeon to come to the temple. Right, doesn’t it say that? He came in the Spirit into the temple. It was as if the Spirit was saying: All right, Simeon. It’s game day, let’s go. It’s showtime, let’s get there, because we need to bump into the Christ child and his parents. You’ve been promised. Now I’m delivering, it’s time to get there. 14 And how often does the Spirit just bring you coincidentally to someone that you’ve been worried about, someone that you need to talk to, someone that’s going to give you encouragement or someone that God is saying to you, you need to give them some encouragement. How many times do these random events just happen in the Spirit? Verse 27, that the Spirit directed this. Sometimes someone says something to you that you don’t want to hear it, because you know you need to hear it and you don’t want to hear it. And can’t we just give God the glory for that, that they had the direction to share with you the thing you needed to hear most that you didn’t want to hear; it wasn’t convenient to hear but it was the thing you needed most? Let’s give him glory when he does this. So he came in the Spirit, and he blessed the parents and he blessed Jesus, and he took the babe in his arms. Let’s read the thing, verse 29. He took the child in his arms and he blessed God. “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word.” My eyes have seen what? My eyes have seen what? CONGREGANT: Your salvation. PASTOR SCHMOYER: Your salvation. This is the 15 third time in Luke’s gospel that Jesus is called God’s salvation. All right. He said it to Zechariah, and then Zechariah prophesies it. He said it to the shepherds. The angel said that there will be born to you the Christ who is the Savior. All right? In the city of Bethlehem a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this is the third time that this comes up that Jesus is called the salvation; “my eyes have seen your salvation.” And then he goes off, and this is something else that Luke purposefully records. That Luke is very mindful, being a Gentile himself — Luke is a Gentile. He’s the only Gentile that wrote any New Testament scripture. Do you understand that? Luke is a phenomenal, unique character. You and I, most of us, almost everyone in this room is a Gentile, and there was a time in God’s history that we were excluded from God’s love and God’s grace; and God had promised all along, right, I’m going to bless all the nations through you, Abraham, through you and your seed. Abraham, there’s going to be a descendant in which I will use him to bless all the nations, and you and I are benefactors of that promise. But listen, Luke is purposefully including all this stuff about Jesus; that Jesus cares for the 16 nations, that God sent Jesus to bless the nations. Otherwise all the Christians would be in Israel, and here we are halfway around the world enjoying his many benefits. Verse 31. “My eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation” to whom? Verse 32. To the Gentiles; to all the peoples, to all the Gentiles. What God is saying through the prophetic Spirit-filled utterance of Simeon is God is preparing Mary and Joseph and all who happen to be around in the temple courtyard, frankly this very busy place, the temple courtyard, and everyone around gets to hear that Simeon — everyone knows this guy is Spirit-filled, everyone knows this guy is a guy of love, a guy of faith, a guy of obedience to God — and they hear this man utter that this child will be a salvation from God for all peoples, God has prepared him to save all peoples; you, I beneficiaries of this great promise, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, a light. Do you know why we put lights on Christmas trees, why we sing by candlelight on Christmas Eve? Do you know why we decorate all our bushes and the front yard? And by the way, do you ever clock how much PPL charges you to have your Christmas lights on all 17 season? It costs a lot by the way. But why do we do this with lights, why do we celebrate with lights? Because Christ is the light of the world. Isaiah chapter 9 we don’t have time for, but you can read it later. Isaiah chapter 9, that Jesus will be a light in the darkness, he will be the light that comes into the darkness. I want to encourage you, Jesus has come to release you, he has come to save you. And there’s a lot of views of Christianity that says Jesus was a good role model. Friends, is Jesus a good role model? Yes. A lot of Christian tradition says Jesus came to show us God’s love. Did Jesus show us God’s love? But there’s a lot of Christian tradition that leaves out probably the most important part, which is you and I have a sin problem, you and I have an obedience problem, because every one of you that’s ever tried can testify that we’re screwups at the best of times. Is this kind of true? Can we kind of admit that? Daryl, your Sunday School class, are they convinced that we’re sinners — DARYL CRAWFORD: I hope so. PASTOR SCHMOYER: — in the hands of an angry God? That’s what they covered this morning, one of 18 Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermons. Can you and I just all admit that while we try to bring pleasure to God, while we try to obey God, the best of us fail, all of us. Isaiah says it in Isaiah 53, “All of us like sheep have gone our separate ways, each one of us to our own way, but God laid the iniquity of us all on him.” See, this is what it means for Christ to be our salvation, salvation from God. It says “your salvation,” salvation from God. And God has prepared him to do this; he was sent into the world with this one mission, to be the Savior of mankind. Paul puts it this way in Romans chapter 5 verse 8. He says that “God demonstrates his love towards us in this way; while we were sinners Christ died for us.” One will scarcely lay down his life for a good man, for a good man maybe; but the fact of the matter is we’re not good. There’s not one of us who is good and noble and pure. We did not stumble into sin by mistake or by happenstance. We knowingly went to it and gladly did what God says is wrong. We are stained with sin, and God says, just like those firstborns in Egypt, let me release you from your obligation, let me replace your obligation with someone that can meet 19 your expectation. God expects perfection from us. None of us measure up, and God says let me send a substitute. He will give you his perfection and you will give to him your sin; and so Jesus died on the cross with your sin, with my guilt, and he died the death you and I deserved to die. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” We’re released through his good news. When Simeon prophesies all of this, what Simeon is doing is he’s saying finally your salvation has come. Finally our guilt will be gone, finally we can be free and joyful, and he will hold nothing against us anymore, finally. Do you hear the joy of being released? The good news is a news of release. A good news isn’t a good news of, well, God will just tolerate your badness. Oh, no. Oh, no, that’s not good news, because I don’t want to hold on to my badness anymore; I want to be guilt-free. And Jesus comes to release us; that is the power of his good news message. With the good news Simeon gives some bad news. There’s always bad news with the good news. There is a cost to our good news. And before we get to that cost I just want to reflect on this release, this joy 20 of being relieved of all of our guilt and our stain. On your connection card the first decision point, the checkoff box, maybe today you’re feeling this sense of release, this what do I do with this message of God releasing me of my guilt; what do I want to do with the fact that God has released me. Well, here’s one way to put that into practice. “Since Jesus released me from punishment of my sin” — which by the way can be yours and can be mine by belief in Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn’t say, Now jump off a high tower or outrun a locomotive. He says, Believe in me and let me do all the heavy lifting. “come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest for your soul,” Jesus says. So since he released me of my punishment of sin, what should I do with it? “I will shine his light on those hidden sins in my life, and I will let him conquer them.” He is a light of revelation to the Gentiles. Let him be, let him be light exposing some dark crevices of our soul; let him be the one that shares with you: I love you, now let us deal with that sin issue that you’re wrestling against. Sometimes we sin even in ways that we’re not even aware. Sometimes you’re not even aware, I’m not even aware of this pattern of sin that we need to give up, 21 and, God, let that light of your forgiveness shine and expose that so we can wrestle with that, so we can kill that thing. Because God doesn’t want us holding on to our sin; he wants us putting those things to death. So maybe that’s one way to live this out: God, I want your light to expose what’s wrong so we can kill this thing together. All right. Now let’s move into the cost. So Simeon, he gives this wonderful message of release, and then he talks: listen, there’s going to be some cost, there’s going to be some pain. Listen to it. So his father and his mother marveled at the things that were said about him. You know what? Mom and Dad, Joseph and Mary, are always marveling. When the shepherds came and said about the angels, they all marveled. Okay? When the angel came to Mary and said you’re going to become pregnant with the Christ, and Mary marveled at this thing. Every time this message comes people are always marveling, and here again in verse 33 they’re marveling again. This is consequently the third time unrelated peoples come to them and share with them what this child is going to become, and so they’re always marveling. I think it takes some time to sink it in. 22 It took from the nine months of pregnancy all the way through, right, that they were chewing on what the angel Gabriel said to them both, right? Because Gabriel visited Joseph in a dream in Matthew chapter 1, and Gabriel visited Mary personally, visibly in Luke chapter 1. So for nine months they’re wrestling with what the angel said. And now at the birth, for 90 days they’re wrestling with what the shepherds said from the angels. And now here with Simeon, now they’re going to have to chew on this, the good news and the cost. So Simeon blessed them. First he blessed God in verse 28; now in verse 34 he’s blessing them. Consequently he’s blessing them, and he says to Mary — I think that’s important because most scholars believe Joseph died before Jesus went to the cross. That’s why in the rest of all four gospels Joseph never shows up again. So he blessed them, but he said to Mary, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel.” Let’s just stop there for a minute. This child is going to cause the rise and the fall of many. That sounds like a cost. It sounds like he’s going to unsettle the fruit basket. This thing is going to fall on its side, everything is going to spill out; 23 that he’s going to turn the world upside down. Consequently Luke says that about all the disciples in the book of Acts, that they’re turning the world upside down. This Jesus is going to turn the whole world upside down; many will fall, many will fall. And we know from Matthew’s gospel that King Herod died because of Jesus’ birth. Pilate, because Pilate nails Jesus to the cross, Caesar in Rome eventually puts Pilate out of business. Herod at Jesus’ death, the grandson of King Herod the Great, he is responsible for Jesus’ death, and he himself pays a great price in the book of Acts. Many will fall. I think the high priest and the Pharisees and the Sadducees, they knew what Jesus was up to and they did not like it. It says in the Psalms, and Jesus fulfills it, that “the stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” And when Jesus started preaching with authority and not what the scribes and the Pharisees and Sadducees, they started getting upset because all the people are following Jesus and their reputation is falling, so they get upset at him. The person that falls the most in the gospels is Jesus himself. He himself, this child that would be 24 the cause of the fall of many people, he himself is the greatest fall of all, going to the cross, being buried in a borrowed tomb. It goes on. And he will be a sign that is opposed at the end of verse 34. He will be a sign that is opposed. Wasn’t Jesus opposed from the very start? He heals a man that’s paralyzed from birth, and what does everyone say? Who does this man think he is? He goes to church, Jesus goes to the synagogue. There’s a man that’s lame. Jesus heals him from his lameness. Who does this guy think he is? Why does he always cause trouble? Why doesn’t he just keep up the status quo like everybody else? Jesus is a sign that is opposed. We come to I Corinthians chapter 2, and it says about Jesus that he is a stumbling block to the Jews and he is foolishness to the Greeks. And isn’t it just the same today? People either trip over Jesus or they think he’s a fool, but so few people take his words to heart. Everybody calls him a good teacher, but no one listens to what he teaches, and the few that do laugh at it and think it’s foolish. And then there’s you and then there’s me. The scriptures tell us to the Jew he’s a stumbling block, to the Gentile he’s foolish, but to those of us who 25 are being saved he is the power of God for salvation. Do you hear the contrast; do you hear the difference; do you hear the shake-up? That he’s the cause, a sign that is opposed. And then in verse 35 he transitions from Jesus is going to affect all these people and many are going to have to pay a steep cost because of his ministry, and he turns to Mary herself in verse 35. He says to her, “a sword will even pierce through your own soul.” That Mary herself had great cost; delights in the birth of a child but knows this child is going to cause my own soul to be pierced. And I think as the centurion was piercing Jesus’ side, I think that sword was piercing her soul as well, for John tells us that Mary was at the cross watching the crucifixion. Imagine every time that news would spread about this goody-two-shoes kid, right? Next week we’re going to talk about Jesus being a kid, and he never sinned. He never disobeyed his parents; he never got into an argument with his brothers and sisters or the town kids. And I’m sure he was the scapegoat for many controversies with little children, because when he grows up he becomes the scapegoat for bigger controversies. And every time I’m sure Mary is thinking, why is this kid so good and everyone else is 26 so lousy? And then when he grows up and he starts teaching: Oh, Jesus, why do you have to say that? You know it’s going to rattle everyone’s cage. And I’m sure Mary’s heart was stirred. I remember hearing that when Jesus’ brothers and mother come to visit Jesus while he’s teaching in Matthew chapter 10 verse 34. All right? Jesus is teaching, and his mother and brothers come to him, and many scholars believe they were coming to him to come take him home. Come on, Jesus, let’s go home, because you’re making trouble and no one likes what you’re saying, and we don’t want the family name to become bad; let’s go home. Right, this sword was piercing her own soul, her reputation. From a teenage pregnant girl imagine her reputation, and it only gets worse because now she’s the mother of a rabble-rouser, she’s the mother of a revolutionary. And I’m sure every time Satan is, you know, rattling her cage. Mary, Mary, you got to do something. This kid is causing trouble. Many people are falling, many people are opposing because of him; just hush him up. And the mother and the brothers come and come to take him home. And so the crowds say (Matthew 10:34) Jesus, your mother, your brothers are here. And Jesus 27 says, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” Do you remember what the answer is? Whoever does the will of the Father is my mother, is my brother. Can you imagine Mary? I mean she was coming to come hush him up, and can you imagine the sword in her soul, being rejected by her own son. Right, there’s rejection. Who’s my mother? Well, it’s the woman that does the will of the Father in heaven, that’s who my mother is. Can you imagine, moms, being betrayed by your son in that way, the pain? And “a sword will pierce your own soul, Mary, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” When Jesus comes into your life, it is not a comfortable thing, because my motives are I just want to please me. I don’t care about anyone else, I’m just here to please me. I’m just here to take the path of least resistance. Whatever the least amount of energy is, that’s what I’m about. However I can hurt someone, because I’ve been hurt in my past, and now whatever I can do to hurt someone else, I’ll say it, I’ll do it. I’ll have those attitudes of hostility because I’ve faced hostility. Whatever your motives are, Jesus stirs the pot and infects your heart with grace, and all of those ugly things get exposed. We love John 3:16. “God so 28 loved the world,” we love that, but just a couple verses later in verse 19, 20, 21 Jesus says, For I have come to expose their evil deeds. The light shines on the darkness, and the darkness hates the light. And that’s why so many people hated Jesus, that’s why he ended up on a cross, because they did not like his exposure. Imagine the Pharisees. They want to keep the law, they want to obey the message, and they find this adulterous woman, they catch her in the very act. Why they don’t catch the man in the act I don’t know, but they caught the woman in the act, and they say to Jesus, The law says we should stone her. What do you think we should do? And they’re trying to catch Jesus, because again he’s a sign for opposition. And what does Jesus say? Do you remember? He says, If you have no sin, you throw the first stone. What’s going on here, what’s going on? The thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. Jesus makes us all uncomfortable, not just the woman caught in the act of adultery, but he shows light on every dark heart. Mary is going to have to live with that; Joseph is going to have to raise his son toward that direction. They’re going to have to put energy in to care for this young boy because he is going to do all 29 of these great relief things but also great costly things. I would encourage you to let that light shine on your thoughts and on your heart, that God would reveal things to you that you’re not even aware of yet. One more way to connect this cost of the good news as our second decision point: “I will endure suffering for Jesus’ sake.” Jesus himself suffered because of his message of forgiveness, he suffered the cross, and many people who followed him face uncomfortable circumstances. In fact Paul says in II Timothy 3, anyone who desires to live a godly life will undergo persecution. So it’s a promise — congratulations — and we just need to decide to own up to it and follow it. “I will endure suffering for Jesus’ sake because he suffered for me.” Will you decide to do that? And I know that’s very awkward and uncomfortable, but let his light shine on you, let his light shine through you, and when people don’t like it, endure. Endure. They’re going to give you opposition, they’re going to be hostile towards you. Endure. “The Cost of the Good News.” And then we come to Anna, verses 36 through 38, and this will be just real quick. All we see is 30 celebration. She doesn’t say anything recorded in the text, but she’s giving thanks, verse 38, she’s giving thanks, she’s speaking of Jesus to all who are waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem; and so she’s just praising. So let’s just talk a little bit about this woman. She’s a prophetess, verse 36. Her name is Anna, and she’s the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. This is one of two times the word Asher is used in the New Testament. I got nothing about Asher. The only thing that we can find about Asher is this, and it’s not biblical but it’s kind of the writings of Jewish scholars. This is what they say about Asher. Ready? The daughters of Asher were beautiful, and many of the descendants of Asher became wives to the priest or wives to a king. That’s all I got. So she’s a widow, she’s from Asher. You know, she only lived with her husband seven years the passage says. So maybe she goes and lives in the temple hoping that she gets picked up by one of the priests — I don’t know — because women of Asher become wives of priests. I don’t know. That’s not biblical. All I got is what some scholars speculated. We don’t know why she’s in the temple. But we do know that there were houses in the temple for widows, 31 that it was a place to go if you had no one to supply for you, if you had no children. It says that she was childless. If she had no children, she had no family, she had to live somewhere. Women couldn’t work in that generation, so she’s helpless, destitute, and there’s a place in the temple for widows to live. So she’s living in the temple, and it says that she constantly, verse 37, worshiped with fasting and praying night and day. So like Simeon, who’s full of the Spirit already, God had prepared him for game day. All right. He had done a lot of work, a lot of praying in the Spirit, a lot of just growth in understanding God and his ways, and he’s compliant when the Spirit nudges him to do something. Much like him, Anna had already been formatted, prepared before game day happens. So she lived a life of prayer; she lived a life of fasting; she constantly worshiped; and she was in the Spirit. Okay? So now when game day happens, and it’s just a random event, she bumps into this young couple with this young kid, and because she had already seasoned her life with a life of godliness, now she sees plain as day what everyone around thinks is just an ordinary baby, she sees as the real baby, the real deal. 32 Because the scripture says that she was waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem, and when people are expectant, they see God doing things. That’s why when we pray or when we sang “open the eyes of my heart, I want to see you,” those who really mean it do see God at work. So when we genuinely do pray: God, show me your handiwork, show me the things that you’re doing. I want to join you in changing this world. God, show me, pull back the curtain and let me see what’s really happening in some circumstance today. Because I want to affect this world for you, so help me to see what you’re doing so I can help you affect this world. Simeon lived that way, Anna lived that way. I’m wondering, do you and I live that way? Are we so busy pedaling our lives that we have no time for the prayerfulness of: God, show me what I need to be doing. I want to live with you, I want to be in tune with you so that when you broadcast I’m already on that frequency and I’m ready to listen when you speak. You see, so many of us want to hear God speak, we want the flash, all of the bang, but we haven’t tuned to the right frequency through prayer, through worship, through fasting, through reading God’s word. We need to tune to the right frequency so we can hear him. Anna was already prepped and God revealed to her, 33 so now she makes much of Jesus. And it says that she “that very hour (verse 38) began to give thanks to God and to speak of him with all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” So she celebrates the good news. That’s her whole purpose. So much like Elizabeth and Mary, right? When the two pregnant women bump into each other, and together their hearts celebrate what God had done in giving them both these pregnancies of John and of Jesus. The angels come to the shepherds, and what do the shepherds do? They glorify God and they speak of him to everyone they come in touch with. There is celebration that he’s happened. And so much of our Dutch-ness is just this stoic glance, this determined furrowed brow, and we’re un-penetratable. We don’t understand the word joy, we don’t understand the word delight, and God’s word is chock-full of that kind of stuff. Friend, would you be impacted, would you celebrate good news along with Anna? Just write down for your convenience. She’s waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Write down Isaiah 52 verse 9. We began our worship gathering reading that passage, and I would just have you chew on that verse throughout the week so that you can 34 celebrate the salvation of Jerusalem, celebrate the salvation of mankind. One last thing, your connection card. If celebration is something that you need to work on. Right, Anna talks to everyone about what she saw, and so a connection point that you might want to take home with you, “I will increase my boldness” — like Anna boldly telling everybody — “I will increase my boldness for the Lord within my family and my social gatherings.” Why do I say that? It is New Year’s Eve coming up. You’re going to be in contact with a lot of unique and different people. Would you be bold and celebrate true goodness, true God-changing power? And so let’s think about that as we pray. God, I thank you for your good news message, I thank you for its broad offer that whoever puts their trust in Jesus Christ will have the forgiveness of their sin, they will experience the release of their guilt. And I thank you for that promise. I am a joyful recipient of your good news. I know virtually everyone here is a recipient of your good news; we’ve taken you up on your offer, Lord God. But I pray for any man, any woman, any young person here that’s never taken you up on the offer. You say whoever believes in the Son will not perish 35 but will have eternal life, and maybe there’s someone here that hasn’t yet believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The scripture says in Romans 10 verse 9 that if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and if we believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved, for anyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. And, Lord, I just pray for any friend here that doesn’t yet know you, Jesus. I pray that they would joyfully, gladly celebrate the reunion of lost friends, God and man, that they would come to you and find you. Lord, for us who have already found you and we’re thinking about different ways to apply your Word, whether it means, Jesus, just shining a light on some dark part of our soul, some sin that we’re still holding on to, Jesus, we invite you to expose that thing, that we might give it up and get more of you filled within our lives. Or if, Lord Jesus, it means perhaps that we’re going to choose to endure suffering the way Mary was pierced with her soul seeing the death of her own son, the Savior of the world, and the hurt, the suffering she endured. Or even the 12 disciples, each one of them martyred for their faith in Jesus; and, Lord, 36 we’ve decided no matter what the cost, we’re going to follow you through thick and thin, and so help us to endure. And then, Lord, as we think of talking about you the way Anna talked with others about you, Lord, let us talk about you with others; not the weather, not sports, not our next craft, not what happened at work last week, not what a rotten louse my uncle or aunt is, but, Lord, we’re going to talk about you. We’re going to revel and delight and boast and brag about how great you are. And, God, help our tongues to be seasoned with good words, not harmful, hateful, destructive words or meaningless, vain, trivial words. We want to make much of you with our words. Help us. Now, Lord, as we sing a song and prepare to go our separate ways we pray, Lord, that the heart will be radically changed, that our lives, our souls, our direction will be radically changed to chase hard after you, King Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.