Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our text is the second part of the story of Christmas according to Saint Luke. We read the first part on Christmas Eve: The journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, the appearance of the angels to the shepherds and their visit to the Child Jesus.
According to this account: "And when the eight days were completed to circumcise the child, they called his name JESUS; as he was called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when her days of the purification were fulfilled, according to the law of Moses, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (As it is written in the law of the Lord: Every man who opens the womb will be called holy to the Lord) , and to offer sacrifice, according to what is said in the law of the Lord; a pair of turtledoves, or two pigeons. "
This way Jesus fulfilled the law of Moses with the help of Joseph and Mary. Eight days after his birth He was circumcised and received His name. Forty days later, they went to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice in place of their firstborn son. According to the law, every firstborn son of Israel should be dedicated to God or sacrificed to God. But the parents could offer a sacrifice in place of their son, because God accepted a ram instead of Isaac, the firstborn son of Abraham and a lamb instead of the firstborn sons of Israel in Egypt. The book of Leviticus commanded the sacrifice of a lamb and a dove or pigeon, or if the family did not have enough for a lamb, two turtledoves or two pigeons. Our text indicates that José and Mary took the second option, because they were humble people. This rite foreshadowed the sacrifice of a son of Abraham and the only begotten Son of God, in our places.
In the Temple they found Simeon, to whom it "had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, who would not see death before he saw the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit to the temple. And when the parents put the baby Jesus in the temple, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he then took him in his arms, and blessed God. "
And we sing these words of Simeion every Sunday: "Lord, now you dismiss your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples; light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel. "
The Holy Spirit told Simeon that in that Child all the prophecy of the Old Testament will be fulfilled. The Lord promised Abraham that among his descendants the Savior of the whole world would be born. The word "Gentiles" means those who were not descendants of Abraham, literally "ethnicities" which means, "all nations." Therefore, He is light for revelation to all nations and the glory of His people Israel.
Furthermore, Simeon said directly to Mary, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel; and for a sign to be opposed (and a sword will also pierce your very soul), so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. "
This Child came to free us from the power of sin, the devil and death. Our epistle says (Galatians 4: 1-7), "But the fulfillment of time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that We received the adoption of children.” he whole letter to the Galatians speaks of this freedom from the condemnation of the law, which is the power of sin, of the devil and death.
We find the universal moral law in the 10 Commandments. They are God's will for us to live as his children. But none of us can fulfill this law perfectly because of our sinful nature. However, Jesus Christ fulfilled all the law in our places. This is the good news for those who feel the weight of their sins: Christ has done everything for us. This Child is for the lifting up of those who want freedom from their sins and a good relationship with God and others.
This Child is for the downfall of the self-righteous. They do not feel the weight of their sins, nor the need for a Savior. Therefore, they reject Jesus and on the day of final judgment they will not have another opportunity for repentance. Many of the people of Israel thought that they were saved only because of their identity as children of Abraham and their lifestyle did not matter. Then, Jesus would divide the people into those who believe in Him and those who do not believe in Him. Only believers have the hope of salvation.
Simeon spoke of the way of this salvation when he told her, a sword will also pierce her very soul. The sword would be the death of her firstborn son. Mary was present before the cross with the Apostle John when all the other disciples had abandoned Jesus. To see the crucifixion, would have been moving for each one of us, much more for His mother, she who remembered His birth, the visits of the shepherds and magicians, the wedding of Cana and more.
So today we remember the true meaning of Christmas, the shadow of the cross on the manger. In this we have peace and joy forever, the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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