Gospel: Luke 2:22-40
Epistle: Gal. 4:4-7
Lesson: Is. 61:10-62:3
Psalm: Psalm 111
CLB Commentary – Rev. David Rinden
How fortunate for us that Christmas is not over. The world quickly moves on to the next thing, but in the church we have the opportunity to continue to meditate on the Incarnation, a most wonderful revelation. So, with the shepherds we say today, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:15, RSV)
What had happened? The “fullness of time” had come. Isaiah’s prophecy, and others, had come to pass. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned….For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:2, 6) Miraculously the Son of God entered our world by becoming a man. Who can comprehend this? Only the Holy Spirit may reveal the Incarnation to us.
In the home of Joseph and Mary Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40) We have no further word of Jesus’ human development than what the Scriptures show us. Jesus developed as a child, but he was far from ordinary. The favor of God overshadowed him, preparing him for the cross that was to come.
Mary and Joseph did not think of themselves as special people, but obediently presented Jesus in the temple. Here they met two saints, Simeon and Anna, who corroborated the message from the angel.
Simeon, who could be called the last of the Old Testament saints and the first of the New Testament saints, had been waiting for this day. Now it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that this child he held in his arms was indeed the Christ.
What is the meaning of this “thing” the shepherds sought after?
1. It means that we have a message of good news to proclaim to the world. A Savior has been born. (Luke 2:10) Our sins can be forgiven. The way has been opened to God. The shepherds when they had seen Jesus, “spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.” (Luke
2:17) And what was the response to their witness? “…All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Luke 2:18)
2. It means that we have a message which is reliable. It is true. It is said of Mary that she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:20)
3. It means that we have a way to die. When Simeon held Jesus in his arms he said, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32) We can die in peace knowing that Jesus has come.
4. It means that we have the blessed hope of Christ’s return. There was also a prophetess named Anna who came up to Mary and Joseph while they were in the temple. “Coming up to them…she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38) The Gospel is all about redemption, beginning in Geneses right through to Revelation.
Not all believe nor have all received the message of Christ. After blessing the child Simeon said to Mary, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:34-35) Like the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna, we need to be telling the story of Jesus that many may be drawn to the light and be saved.