Summary: “Jesus is worth the wait in the incarnation as well as in the resurrection.”
JESUS IS WORTH THE WAIT--Luke 2:21-39
Proposition: “Jesus is worth the wait in the incarnation as well as in the resurrection.”
Objective: My purpose is to help people realize that Jesus is truly worth the wait in
knowing and following Him.
There is an unforgettable story about Major Harold Kushner & a marine who was held by the Viet Cong for five & a half years: Among the prisoners in Kushner’s POW camp was a tough young marine, 24 years old, who had already survived two years of prison-camp life in relatively good health. Part of the reason for this was that the camp commander had promised to release the man if he cooperated. Since this had been done before with others, the marine turned into a model POW & the leader of the camp’s thought-reform group. As time passed he gradually realized that his captors lied to him. When the full realization of this took hold he became a zombie. He refused to do all work, rejected all offers of food & encouragement & simply lay on his cot sucking his thumb. In a matter of weeks he was dead. Why? The marine realized that his captors had lied to him. There was no hope for release, to escape or in good behavior. Hope is powerful. “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”
Of all the prophets of the Old Testament, Isaiah gave a favorite presentation of the identity of Christ in Isa.9:6—Isaiah called him Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. Before the birth of Jesus there were 400 silent years in regard to God’s revelation to man. The voice of God was silent but not permanently. Christ’s first coming was proclaimed in Genesis 3:15, where the Scripture says, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Christ’s heel would only be bruised but the Lord Jesus would bruise the serpent’s head. As we move on from the story of Jesus’ birth, the shepherds have gone back to their sheep and Joseph and Mary back to Nazareth. We can imagine Joseph putting up with irate customers in the carpenter shop while Mary was washing diapers. The glamour is gone and life is back to normal. We pick up Luke’s narrative with Mary and Joseph going through the ritual activities, taking their baby to the temple in Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice. Mary and Joseph were proceeding with all the usual Jewish customs in connection with this most unusual infant. I am sure that if you could talk to Simeon today about the coming of Jesus, he would tell you, “I waited many years for the Messiah, the Christ to come and sometimes wondered if He would ever come. Of course, I soon learned that when He
finally did come, He was worth the wait.”
I. THE DUTY (vvs. 21-25) “according to the Law of Moses”—There is mention of three ancient ceremonies for every Jewish boy and family after a birth:
1. The ceremony of recognition (identification) (v. 21) “When the 8 days came for the circumcision of the Child” (Deut. 30:6; Lev. 26:41; Ezek. 44:7; Jer. 9:25-26)— First there was the circumcision of Jesus that takes place when He was eight days old. It was a token of the covenant that God made with Abraham. Circumcision symbolized the Jews’ separation from Gentiles and their unique relationship with God. On this same day, the Child was named, according to Jewish custom. The angel had previously instructed Mary and Joseph to call Him JESUS. The outward rite must be accompanied by spiritual change in one’s heart to have any spiritual meaning.
2. The ceremony of purification (v. 22a) “When the days of her
purification”—This took place after 40 days for a boy & 80 days if a girl. She could go about her daily business, but could not enter the Temple or share in any religious ceremony. The second ceremony was concerned with the purification of Mary. It took place forty days after the birth of Jesus (see Lev_12:1-4). Ordinarily parents were supposed to bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering. But in the case of the poor, they were permitted to bring “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons” (Lev_12:6-8). The fact that Mary brought no lamb, but only two young pigeons is a reflection of the poverty into which Jesus was born. This shows that this was The Offering of the Poor.
3. The ceremony of redemption (of the first-born) (vvs. 22b-24) “to present Him to the Lord…and to offer a sacrifice” (Num. 18:16)—31 days after birth. The next ritual was the presentation of Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem. Originally, God had decreed that the firstborn sons belonged to Him; they were to form the priestly class (Exo_13:2). Later, He set aside the tribe of Levi to serve as priests (Exo_28:1-2). Then the parents were permitted to “buy back” or “redeem” their firstborn son by the payment of five shekels. This they did when they dedicated him to the Lord. Firstborn males were the property of God, so the firstborn could be ransomed through the payment of nominal redemption price recognition of the gracious power of God in giving life). They could buy back their son from God. These ceremonies are rather strange as ceremonies; but all three have at the back of them the conviction that a child is a gift of God.