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The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord

February 2, 2020 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Epiphany

Passage: Luke 2:22–2:32

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 2:22-32
Date: February 2nd, 2020; The Purification of Mary and Presentation of Our Lord; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • It’s hard to believe, but it’s forty days after Christmas. 
  • In keeping with the Torah, Mary and Joseph have brought the forty-day-old Jesus to the temple to present him to the Lord. 
  • The temple in first century Jerusalem was a very busy place.  
  • For the Jewish people, there were a lot of ceremonial laws that required a trip to the temple.  It was a place of constant activity for God’s people.
  • Who knows how many other parents brought their first born boys to the temple on the same day that Mary and Joseph presented Jesus?  
  • To the rest of the people in the temple, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus would have seemed to be just another family fulfilling the law that God gave through his servant Moses. 
  • How then was Simeon able to pick Jesus out of the crowd?  
  • How did he know that it was this specific baby who was the promised Messiah?  There were many other babies there that day too.
  • Well, St. Luke gives us the answer and we heard it in our Gospel lesson.  
  • Luke connects Simeon to the Holy Spirit three times in our reading: “The Holy Spirit was upon him”  “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit”  “And he came in the Spirit into the temple.”  
  • Simeon was only able to recognize Jesus as the Messiah through the work of the Holy Spirit.
  • As Martin Luther reminds us in his Small Catechism in his explanation for the Third Article of the Creed - the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies. 
  • The Holy Spirit called Simeon to the faith.  
  • Luke tells us that he was righteous and devout and a faithful believer.  This was the work of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Holy Spirit enlightened Simeon.  The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that he would see God's Christ, the promised Messiah, before he died. 
  • The Holy Spirit gathered Simeon.  He led Simeon to the temple at just the right time for him to see Jesus.  It was not a coincidence.  
  • Luke gives us the impression that Simeon was waiting for Jesus when Mary and Joseph brought him into the temple.    
  • You can just imagine Simeon patiently waiting near the entrance to the temple, watching parents bring their first-born sons to present them to the Lord.
  • He was likely wondering how he would ever be able to tell which one was the promised Christ.    
  • Then when Mary and Joseph entered with Jesus, we can imagine the Holy Spirit telling Simeon, "This one! He is the Christ!" 
  • And can you imagine Mary's surprise when she entered the temple and this man takes Jesus from her arms and begins to worship him?
  • This would have been quite a scene to witness!   
  • This event teaches us something important about our faith and lives as Christians.
  • Just as the Holy Spirit led Simeon to Jesus in the temple, so he still leads people to Jesus today.
  • It is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that anyone can see Jesus.  
  • The Holy Spirit creates and sustains our faith that allows us to see the truth about Jesus. 
  • Certainly others saw Jesus in the temple that day.  
  • Anyone who looked in their direction would have seen Joseph, Mary, and their 40 day old Son.  
  • But, they would not have recognized that the baby in Mary’s arms was truly God in the flesh - the Savior of all humanity. 
  • This still happens today.  
  • There are many people who believe in the historical Jesus, that he lived on this earth.
  • They will believe that Jesus did good deeds, taught good teachings, and was a fine example of how to live a moral life.  
  • They see the historical Jesus - but they don't see the Son of God come to earth.
  • They see the historical Jesus, but they don't see the true Jesus.  
  • Only the Holy Spirit can reveal the true Jesus to our eyes through the gift of faith. 
  • The Holy Spirit starts by opening our spiritual eyes so that we become aware of our sin and our desperate need to be saved.  
  • He shows us that we have not loved God with our whole heart and that we have not loved our neighbour as ourselves.  
  • He shows us that we have not done what God commands.  
  • By the power of the Holy Spirit, we see the reality of the eternal punishment that our sin deserves. 
  • The Holy Spirit brings us to repent.  
  • We are led to feel sorrow and shame over our sin.  
  • And thank God the Holy Spirit does open our eyes to our sin and the punishment it deserves.
  • Thank God, because it is then that we see our desperate need for a Savior.
  • Thank God, because it is then that we are open to receiving all that Christ accomplished for us through his life, death, and resurrection.   
  • Through God’s gift of faith, we see the baby in Simeon's arms grow up to take our sin and our guilt to the cross.  
  • We see the baby grow up to be the Lamb of God who takes our sins away. 
  • The gift of faith that we receive from the Holy Spirit gives us the sight we need to look at Jesus Christ and see our Lord and Savior.
  • With Simeon, we too sing, "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your Word; for my eyes have seen the 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.”
  • We sing with Simeon because the Savior has come to us.  He truly is present among us through his Word and Sacraments.  
  • We hear his word of forgiveness and life, we receive his true body and blood for the strengthening of our faith and the promise of eternal life - then we depart in peace.
  • We depart in peace knowing and trusting that our relationship with God is restored.
  • We depart in peace knowing and trusting that Christ is with us each moment of our lives – through all of the ups and downs – and he has promised that he will provide us with everything we need to persevere in the faith.
  • We depart in peace knowing and trusting that the One who suffered, died, and rose again - will raise us from our suffering and death to life everlasting.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.