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The Saviour Came
Almost as soon as man was created he rebelled against his Creator and everything turned pear-
Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit but this was soon followed up by lying and deceitfulness. It would not be long before the first murder took place. Mankind was simply incapable of sorting out the problem it had created for itself by sin.
God however had his own plans for dealing with the problem of human sin. The first hint that a saviour would come to deal with mankind's problem of sin was right back at the moment of the Fall:
Gen.3:15 "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."
As human history unfolded God supplied more and more details concerning this Saviour – nothing would be left to chance and nothing would be allowed to compromise the accomplishment of such a crucial coming!
Finally, when everything was ready, "when the fullness of time had come", God's plan went into active mode.
(There are many time references in the gospels that serve not only to locate the events of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in space/time history but also to direct our attention to the appropriate time nature of just when these things took place :
Lk.2:1"In those days…"
Lk.2:6 "while they were there the time came…"
Lk.2:21 "at the end of eight days…"
Lk.2:22 "when the time came…"
Lk.2:36 "he would not see death before he had seen…
Lk.2:38 "at that very hour…"
"God sent forth his Son"
Lk.1:32 "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,"
Lk.1:35 "And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God."
Jn.1:14 "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Jn.1:34 "And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."
"born of woman"
Mt.1:18 "Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit."
Mt.2:11 "And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him."
"born under the law"
No special dispensation even though this child was unlike any other that had ever been born!
Cf. Ge 17:10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.
Ge 21:4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.
Lk.2:27 " And (Simeon) came in 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,"
Lk.2:39 "And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth."
Redemption and Adoption
God's plan of salvation is a comprehensive plan, a complete plan. Not only is it concerned with the timing of things and the manner in which those things take place it is also concerned with the goal and purpose that God has in view. And God's purpose in planning to send his own Son into the world was to secure firstly the redemption of his people and then secondly the adoption of these same into his family. The two terms are both rich and warm.
Redemption speaks of deliverance through the payment of a price and is language taken from the slave market. No slave was free to live his own life as he desired instead he lived his life in bondage to the will of his master and whether that master was gentle or cruel only affected the slave's experience of slavery; he remained a slave. But redemption ended all that! With the necessary price paid the slave went free.
But the salvation planned by God for his people included much more than mere liberation it included (and includes) adoption into a new family, God's own family!
When we recognize that this is indeed God's plan and purpose other details of the gospel story fall readily into place. Since God purposed to redeem and to adopt we can understand just why it is that throughout the gospel narratives people are brought to Jesus: God is at work to bring people to himself.
This 'bringing people to Jesus' is a common feature of the narratives concerning the birth of Jesus.
Last Sunday we thought about how the shepherds were given ring side seats at an angelic concert. Eyes and ears might well have been attuned to those angels but once they had gone it was their message that left the most profound impression upon the shepherds. As a result the shepherds went off to see the baby they had been told about. They found it all exactly as it had been told to them – they came to Jesus.
We saw too that the same was true for the wise men from the East. They somehow understood from the night sky that a new King had been born and they set out to follow his star that would eventually lead them to Bethlehem. They too came to Jesus.
Now in Lk.2:18-
Now Simeon was an old man who trusted God and who believed in the promises he had made. God had promised to send a Saviour and that was good enough for Simeon! So good, in fact, that Simeon was expecting the imminent arrival of this special One because the Holy Spirit had told him that he would see the Messiah before he died!
But Simeon saw no star and he saw no angels! The Spirit caused him to go as just the right moment into the temple. He arrived at just the same moment as Joseph and Mary entered with Jesus. Another of the characters in the Christmas story is brought to Jesus!
The Holy Spirit gave spiritual eyesight and understanding to Simeon and so Simeon, when he came to Jesus, was not cold and formal but full of joy and thankfulness to God. Maybe you're tempted to say that that is obvious and to ask how on earth could anyone imagine Simeon acting any other way? But we only need to look to our own attitude to find the answer! Sadly, we do not always ourselves respond to Jesus and all we know about him with the kind of warmth and thankful enthusiasm that his coming into the world, and in particularly coming into our own individual worlds, deserve.
There is another chord that is struck in this little cameo picture – a chord that is frequently left out of the sentimentalist's understanding of the Christmas story. That chord concerns a prophecy of rejection and pain. Yes, it is wonderfully true that Jesus' coming into the world is "good news of great joy" but, and there is a serious but of which we must take notice, not all will receive this news and rejoice. There will be those who "rise" v.34 but there will also be those who "fall" v.34. Mary as she becomes witness to these things will also suffer grief and pain because the Son she has born will be rejected, will suffer and will die. Men may try to put on a nice pleasant appearance but the true condition of their hearts will be revealed buy the way in which they respond to Mary's son!
The life story of Anna is different again – men and women are not clones of each other – we are not mere numbers either; each of us has a history of our own, a set of experiences that are uniquely our own.
And God treats us as individuals. Yes, there are certain things that are true of all of us – we are all sinners for example and have all come short of God's glory – but the ways in which we have done so are different and the ways in which our lives have developed are different too. God knows this and uses every detail. Anna would have had no problem vigorously nodding her head in agreement with the apostle Paul's words:
Rom.8:28 "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
When you think about this lady Anna I wonder if you've tried to work out some of the details of her life – it's easy to think about her marriage because we're given some information relating to that – but the most important thing for us to see is how the details of her life were directed by the providential hand of a loving God! Again, no stars, no angels – just a record of what could be considered a sad life. No mention of the Holy Spirit either – she was just doing what she regularly did: she believed God's promises and worshipped the God who made them!
And in doing that she too is brought to meet Jesus!
I don't know how the Lord has worked in your life but if he has brought you to the Lord Jesus you should be so glad and rejoice with warm thankfulness. You are not to react but saying thinking "if only I had had this or that experience then everything would be different for me". God worked in many and varied ways to bring people to Jesus. He coordinated things on a global scale and he coordinated things on a minute individual scale to bring people to his Son for redemption and for adoption.
Have you come to Jesus? Are you still coming to Jesus? Have you rejoiced with thankfulness? Are you still rejoicing with thankfulness?
This is the last Sunday of 2014 – has 2014 been a good year for your spiritually? Are you really alive in Jesus Christ? May 2015 be a year in which we all might be brought to Jesus and having been brought be brought ever nearer to Jesus Christ !