Sunday, October 21, 2012

Preview - Luke 2

Preview – Luke 2
Pastor Shane Walker

My preliminary thoughts on the passage to be preached this Sunday
The incarnation
When we looked at Mary's song we saw a clear link to the Psalms of David as well as the appropriateness of Mary using similar language as her forefather to praise God regarding the coming of Jesus.  And the coming of Jesus was a fulfillment of the promise to David that he would always have a descendant sitting on the throne.  And so we see in the beginning of Luke 2 the family is returning to Bethlehem the city of David due to Joseph's lineage, for a census.
Their poverty is clear here as they arrive late (conjecture) and find there is no room in the inn.  Was this the only inn or were all the inns full as well due to the census? They weren't well connected, rich, or at leisure to travel early and secure a good spot.  It seems like they were hard pressed to comply with the decree regarding the census and it likely not only interfered with Joseph's work but also with Mary's pregnancy.  This was a hugely inconvenient trip.  This is the context for Jesus being born in the animal shed area of an inn.  It is amazing to think of the condescension to not only take human form but to be born in these circumstances.
The announcement
The angels appear to some shepherds camping out to watch the flock at night.  The angels also reference David saying,
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (v11)
Then the heavenly host joins in,
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
  “Glory to God in the highest,
  and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (v12 & 14)
Dedication - Simeon's proclamation
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.”
(Leviticus 12:8 ESV)
Mary needed the pigeons and the priest to make atonement for her so that she could be clean again.  This fits in with the last sermon in Luke where we were urged to take Mary at her word - she does need a savior from sin.  Here she offers two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering.
Also, Jesus is presented to the Lord according to 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.”
(Exodus 13:1-2 ESV)
Finally, Simeon proclaims the truth of who Jesus is:
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
  according to your word;
 for my eyes have seen your salvation
  that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
  and for glory to your people Israel.”
(Luke 2:29-32 ESV)
Simeon and Zechariah both mention that Jesus is the light.  In John 1 it says that, "In him was life and the life was the light of men."  Jesus brings us the light of revelation so that we can come out of spiritual and moral darkness and bask in the rays of truth and forgiveness.
The finding in the Temple
This is a strange incident! Through the intervening years Jesus has grown up a bit and had reached twelve years of age.  The family was accustomed to travel to Jerusalem every year for the passover. This would likely have been a time when Jesus began to interact with other adults and would have been understood perhaps as his reaching the "age of majority" and thus being able to reason, speak, and make decisions for himself.  While Jesus is occupied in theological discussions in the temple Joseph and Mary end up beginning the journey home supposing him to be among the larger group they were traveling with.  Maybe the trip to and from Jerusalem for Passover found them among family and friends and Mary thought Jesus was with some of his age group.  Or maybe the day of departure had been discussed and Jesus had decided to simply stay longer.  In any case, it was not an issue of disobedience.  This is a different time and a different culture and Jesus was likely now making decisions for himself as an adult man.

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