Summary: Hope is fulfilled as evidenced in an exposition of LUKE 2:25-40
THE HOPE OF CHRISTMAS
Introduction: Christmas ought to be a time of hope. It is a time of remembering the first coming of Christ, observed in our Christmas celebrations. But it is also a reminder of our waiting for the return of Christ. On that first Christmas hope became reality and the events spell out the lives devoted to God. Luke tells of the activities of these individuals shortly after the birth of Christ,. In Luke 2:25-40, we find a dutiful devotion, an actualized anticipation, a prophetic proclamation and an inclusive invitation.
I. A Dutiful Devotion
A. Luke 2:27 “So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law”
B. Luke 2:21-24 “And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who 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."
C. Mary and Joseph Obeyed God’s Word
1. In Circumcising Jesus (2:21a) – Leviticus 12:3 that all Jewish males are to be circumcised on the eighth day after their birth. This was a very important ritual in a Jewish family, because the circumcision of the males was a sign that they were a people set apart unto God.
2. In Naming Jesus (2:21b) – Mary was visited by Gabriel, and he told her to name her son Jesus (1:36) – Mary has remembered that, and has certainly told Joseph of it also, and so at the circumcision ceremony, they name Him Jesus.
3. In Purifying Mary (2:22a, 24) – Mary and Joseph were poor and yet had great faith and were very obedient to God. Mary and Joseph did not let being poor get in the way of obeying God.
4. In Presenting Jesus (2:22b-23) – God wanted the Israelites to set apart all the firstborn animals and all the firstborn males for Himself.
D. It is interesting that the "law" occurs in this chapter five times. Paul states in Galatians 4:4 that Jesus "was made under the law".
E. Dr. B. J. Miller once said, “It is a great deal easier to do that which God gives us to do, no matter how hard it is, than to face the responsibilities of not doing it.” - MBI’s Today In The Word, November, 1989, p.11
II. An Actualized Anticipation
A. Tradition says Simeon was 113 years old when this occurred. Simeon had been waiting for God to keep His promise for most of his life, and now his hope gives way to sight.
B. Luke 2:28-32 “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 which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”
C. Dr. George Hendry, former professor of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, suggests that since God’s promise of the Messiah is fulfilled in Jesus, Simeon finally felt free to leave this earth having actualized that for which he longingly hoped for – Jesus, the consolation of Israel. Hendry writes, that Simeon recognized that “Christmas is not an occasion for remembrance of the past…It is the seal of the promise of God that God will fulfill his purpose in creation and bring it into glorious consummation, in which we hope to participate.” - Hendry, George S. A Christmas Meditation. (The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Vol. XII, Num. 1, 1991, p. 65)
D. In the presence of the oppression of the Gentiles, and of the iniquity of a people who were ripening or rather ripened in evil, there was a remnant that trusted in God and in His mercy the coming of the promised One, who was to be the fulfillment of this mercy to Israel.
E. James DeLoach tells of a painting of an old burned-out mountain shack. All that remained was the chimney...the charred debris of what had been that family’s sole possession. In front of this destroyed home stood an old grandfather-looking man dressed only in his underclothes with a small boy clutching a pair of patched overalls. It was evident that the child was crying. Beneath the picture were the words which the artist felt the old man was speaking to the boy. They were simple words, yet they presented a profound theology and philosophy of life. Those words were, "Hush child, God ain’t dead!" That vivid picture of that burned-out mountain shack, that old man, the weeping child, and those words "God ain’t dead” convey a powerful message. It is not a message of despair of life; it is a reminder of hope! In the midst of all of life’s troubles and failures, it is a reminder that all is not lost as long as God is alive and in control of His world. - Adapted