Take a Survey

Help support this site:

Sermon List

Login or Register

Luther Sayings

Terms of Use


Newsletter Articles or other writings

BOC readings - 3 year

BOC readings - 1 year

Bible in One Year

Bible in Two Years

5 mins with Luther


Sermon List       Other sermons by J. Batchelor       Notify me when J. Batchelor posts sermons
      RSS feed for J. Batchelor       RSS feed for all sermons

First Sunday after Christmas

Luke 2:22–40

James T. Batchelor

First Sunday after Christmas, series B
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Sun, Dec 28, 2014 

The Apostle Paul had quite a battle on his hands when he took the Gospel to the Gentiles.  False teachers followed him everywhere he went.  These false teachers constantly insisted that a person had to convert to the Jewish faith before they could become a Christian.  So it is that Paul wrote to the Colossians and said, [Colossians 2:1617] Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. These words teach us that the old Jewish ceremonial law was a mere shadow.  Christ is the substance that cast that shadow.  Therefore, once Christ fulfilled the law, we no longer need to keep the shadow.  We can rely directly on Christ.

Todays Gospel tells of Jesus going to the temple to fulfill the rite of purification.  You can find the instructions for the rite of purification in Leviticus 12.  It is kind of long and some of the descriptive words a bit graphic.  The main points are: If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days.  Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying.  When the days of her purifying are completed, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, and if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean. (see Leviticus 12:18)

Because Jesus was Marys first born, His parents were to consecrate Him to the Lord.  One of the many places you may find the instructions for consecration is in Exodus 13.  The Lord said to Moses, Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine. Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb.  Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. (see Exodus 13)

These passages along with others mean that there are all kinds of wonderful things we can say about todays Gospel.  Here is the substance of the living temple of flesh and blood coming into the shadow of the temple of stone.  Here are Mary and joseph performing the shadow of redemption for the One who will one day provide the substance of redemption for them.  Mary is the mother of the one who will provide the substance of purification for the entire world.  Never the less, she must perform the shadow of the rite of purification with the sacrifice of birds a shadow sacrifice that points forward to the substance of her sons sacrifice on the cross.  Here is an event full of the substance of the Christ fulfilling the shadow of the ceremonial law.

The Son is not the only one who fulfills promises on this day.  The Holy Spirit also has a part to play.  He promised to reveal the Lords Christ to Simeon and has called him to the temple to witness the substance of the Christ in the midst of the shadow of the temple. 

Simeon was already in the temple waiting for the Christ when Joseph brought Mary and her son into the temple.  His first action was to embrace the substance of the Lords salvation.  He gathered the infant Christ up into his arms and gave thanks to God.  Now he had everything he needed for a blessed end.  He was ready for His Father in Heaven to graciously take him from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.

After Simeon sang his song of praise and thanksgiving, the Holy Spirit gave him words to share with Mary.  His words for Mary stand in stark contrast to his song of praise: 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 thoughts from many hearts may be revealed. Here we see another expression of what it means to be the Christ.  This child shall produce profound changes in Israel.  Those changes will come at a grave price.  Sorrow will pierce Marys heart like a sword.  Those of us, who know the rest of the story, know that 33 years later Mary will witness the death of this child her son on a cross.

Simeon gave praise to God for the salvation he carried in his arms, but the salvation that is good for us came at a terrible price.  The Messiah the Christ the anointed one will unite some and divide others.  Many will reject Him.  It is by the torture of His suffering and death on a cross that He will be the Lords Salvation.  His suffering and sacrifice will bring great sorrow on His mother and on His followers.

Mary is the most blessed of all of Gods creatures, for she is the mother of God.  At the same time, it is a terrible burden.  A sword will pierce her soul.  She will come to know that her son suffers for her sin.  As she witnesses His death, she sees the price He must pay.  This is what justice demands for sin a man betrayed and abandoned by His friends tortured, nailed to a cross, hanging naked and dying, and, in the midst of it all forsaken by God, a torture worse than all the others combined.

Fortunately, Marys heart was divided in grief for just a few days.  The sword that pierced her heart withdrew when she saw her son alive again.  For on the third day of her hearts division, her son rose from the dead.  Jesus had defeated sin, death, and the power of the devil.  By doing this, He had taken away her sin and the sin of the whole world.

In a way, the sword also pierces the soul of the church, for we must also meditate on the suffering of the cross.  We must also consider the price justice demands for our sin.  We must come to understand that this is the punishment we deserve for our sins.

Never the less, we are not the ones who pay this price.  Christ has suffered and paid it all.  His resurrection shows us that He has truly conquered death.  It is by this resurrection that we know that Jesus has taken away the sin of the world.

Simeons words to Mary tell us that we will rise or fall based on what we believe about Jesus.  Those who receive the Holy Spirits gift of faith in Jesus will rise.  They will receive the salvation that Simeon spoke of in todays Gospel.  Those who reject this faith will fall.  They will never experience the salvation God has prepared for them in Jesus Christ.  Instead, they will experience everlasting torment.

So it is that the church can join Simeon in his song.  Simeons hymn is an expression of trust in the Lords provision at the end of the day and at the end of life.  Simeon trusted that Jesus would make our death into nothing more than an extended sleep while we await the day of our resurrection.  Because Jesus paid for our sins, we know that we, like Simeon, are ready for death to come.  Death no longer holds the terror of eternal punishment.  Instead, we rest in the peace of Jesus and go to our death as though going to sleep.

Like Simeon we also see and hold our salvation.  The only difference is that we hold our salvation in our mouths as we eat our saviors body and drink His blood.  Jesus has promised to come to us in the bread and wine of the Holy Supper so that we do indeed hold our salvation just as much as Simeon held his salvation in the temple long ago.  The Holy Spirit enabled Simeon to recognize that the baby hidden in humble flesh and carried in Marys arms was the Lord, the Creator and Redeemer of the world.  The Holy Spirit has enlightened your eyes to recognize the Savior of the world hidden in humble bread and wine.  The Lord let Simeon go in peace. At each Divine Service the Lord lets us go in peace. The pastor says, Go in peace, but it is the Lord himself who frees us to do so.

The Bible does not tell us when Simeon died.  It may be that the Lord gave him many years of life after he saw the infant savior in the temple.  It may also be that Simeon died soon after He saw his salvation.  We dont know.  What we do know is that he was ready for death whenever it came.  He was ready for death because he was certain of his salvation the salvation he held in his arms in the temple.

We are like Simeon in that we do not know when we will leave this world.  We might leave this world when the Lord returns in judgment a judgment that might happen today or may not happen for centuries.  If the Lord delays His return, then we shall leave this world in death a death that could happen at any time.  Either way, we dont know the day or the hour.  What we do know is that we are ready for our end whenever it comes.  We are ready because we have seen, heard, felt, and even tasted our salvation.  We can be certain because the same Jesus, the very Son of God, who took on our human flesh and sacrificed Himself for us that same Jesus still comes to us today in Word and Sacrament.  We have the substance of the Lords Christ in our ears and in our mouths.  This substance is just as real as the substance that Simeon held in his arms.  Amen

Please quote from my sermons freely. I expect people to copy my sermons or I wouldn't put them on a site like this. I only ask that you quote accurately if you attribute anything to me. Should you decide to contact me, I would be very interested in knowing where you are. Please include the name of your city, state or province, and country when contacting me.

Send James T. Batchelor an email.

Unique Visitors: