Summary: There are I believe three important character traits that we as Christians would do well to adopt for ourselves in the character of Mary the Mother of Jesus 1. Her humility 2. Her commitment to God and 3. Her bravery.
I would like to focus on one short phrase this morning from our Gospel reading.
And it is the personal words that Simeon says to Mary:
34 ……..And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Simeon has been prophesying about Jesus’s future ministry as the Messiah
And then has some personal words for his mother Mary.
Why you might ask?
We are celebrating the Feast of Candlemas which is also known as the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
Candlemas is celebrated 40 days after Christmas.
The reason is that 40 days after Christmas is to reflect the fact that all Jewish male children were brought to the Temple 40 days after their birth to be dedicated to God.
Pope John Paul II described Candlemas as follows:
(On) the feast of Candlemas, we recall the presentation of Jesus in the temple.
Forty days after His birth, Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to offer Him to the Lord as prescribed by the Law of Moses.
This is an episode that fits within the perspective of the People of Israel’s special consecration to God.”
Jesus had been circumcised on the eighth day after his birth.
This was as a sign that he was a member of the people of God – the Jews.
Or put another way, it was Jesus’ initiation into the Old Testament Church.
It was very similar to what happens with infant baptism in the Christian Church today.
With infant baptism we see baptism as the sign of the child becoming a member of the New Testament Church.
Interestingly it is the mother who was directed, at the end of forty days from the child's birth.
She had to appear before the Lord with two offerings - one for a sin offering, the other for a burnt offering as a consecration of her first born to God.
Put another way, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple was part of the process which defined the Jewishness of Jesus
Why was that important?
Because - in the Old Testament – prophets had prophesied that the Messiah would be a Jew, and more specifically a Jew from the line of David.
It would seem that both Joseph and Mary were from the lineage of King David.
When Jesus is brought to be presented in the Temple to God, Luke recounts an interesting story
The story of an old priest Simeon being led by God to go back into the Temple, at that specific time because
“It had been revealed to (Simeon) by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (v.26)
It would have been very easy for Simeon to GIVE UP on the hope of seeing God’s Messiah as time passed and nothing seemed to happen.
In fact there were so many false Mesiahs springing up causing rebellions and being killed that it would have been very easy to be cynical about the whole thing.
But Simeon wasn’t cynical.
He believed God had spoken to Him - and that God would keep his Word, even though the fulfillment of it was a long time coming.
That is why he responded wto the promptings of the Holy Spirit to go back into the Temple.
Persistence and Endurance are alien to our
modern culture, but they are still important godly attributes for the Christian today.
I would bet that if you were to have asked Simeon what the greatest day of his life – he would have replied that it was on the day when he saw the Messiah of Israel, the baby Jesus.
It was worth the wait.
But I don’t want to focus on Simeon today. Nor Anna the prophetess
I want to speak instead about Mary, the Mother of Jesus instead.
Well, Jesus day - as indeed it still is today - the mother had a very important role to play in the determination of whether or not a child was born Jewish.
It wasn’t based on whether or not the father was a Jew.
Rather it was decided by whether or not the child’s mother was a Jew.
I wonder if you have ever thought: Why did God choose Mary to be the mother of his Son Jesus here on earth?
I believe God specifically CHOSE Mary to be the mother of Jesus.
And I believe the answer lies in the character of Mary that we see in the Scriptures.
It is a bit unusual for a Protestant to talk about Mary – but the Catholics are right that Mary the Mother of Jesus is someone to be greatly respected.
She has an incredible amount to teach us about Christian living.
From Luke’s Gospel, I see three important character traits that we, as Christians, would do well to adopt for ourselves.