Bethlehem to Calvary

Luke 2:25-33 (NIVUK)

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.’

The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him.

And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

Verse 41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’

‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

JESUS: BABY AND BOY

READING: Luke 2 verses 25-33, 41-52

  1. Beautiful babies
  • We were all beautiful babies once!
  • Some babies are rather ordinary…or even ugly!
  • But to mum, dad and the grandparents, their baby is the most adorable and beautiful in the world
  1. Every baby is special and unique
  • There is a messy side of course… And babies can’t tell the time!
  • And babies have a strange habit of deciding to be sick all over dad’s shoulder just before he goes to work!

BUT JESUS GAVE ADDED DIGNITY TO BEING A BABY… because that is how He entered our world

Rather like a snowflake, no two babies are completely identical, not even identical twins!

AND BABY JESUS WAS EXTRA SPECIALLY UNIQUE

  • Conceived by the Holy Spirit of God
  • Recognised by John the Baptist, even though John and Jesus were still in their mothers’ wombs!
  • Recognised after his birth by Simeon and Anna in the Temple

THERE WERE also many PROPHECIES concerning this baby that were fulfilled… and if that isn’t unique, it’s hard to think what is!

  1. The baby Jesus had a mission

Jesus wasn’t just another lovely babybut an integral part of God’s eternal plan of salvation for the world

  • Simeon said he was now willing to die because he had seen the Lord’s salvation…the Saviour… so something profound was happening!

GOD HAS A PLAN AND PURPOSE FOR EVERY BABY…every person

  • But we are capable of thwarting His plan for our lives
  • He doesn’t impose His will but invites us to accept and embrace it

His plan may not be what we have in mind

  • We want to grow up healthy in a stable family… meet good-looking partner … get married… have gorgeous children… live peaceably… have sufficient money… enjoy a reasonable standard of living… die quietly in our sleep at a good old age
  • God may ask us to accept the difficult narrow road…and some people’s road in life is a lot more difficult and narrow than others
  • His plan for Jesus was that He should die for the sins of the world… the toughest road of all

But whatever the circumstances, we can be assured that when God is in control, there is nothing to fear

  1. Babies grow up
  • Have you been to a family wedding or funeral lately? Everyone looks so much older (except for you, of course!)
  • Jesus wasn’t any different…he grew up

We don’t know much about Jesus’ early childhood… it’s shrouded in mystery…

  • He would certainly have spent a lot of time helping his father… and being a role model for his younger brothers and sisters

YET THERE WAS SOMETHING DIFFERENT and UNIQUE ABOUT HIM

  • In Luke 2 verse 40: And the child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him

OH THAT THE SAME COULD BE SAID OF YOU AND I

And what of the children we influence?

  • Someone has commented that children are strongly influenced by the way we act and behave…and relatively little by what we say

As the years passed, it appears that Mary and Joseph did not recognise who Jesus was…despite the words of the angel to Mary prior to Jesus’ birth… and living with Him for years!

IS IT POSSIBLE THAT WE CAN LIVE CLOSE TO JESUS AND FAIL TO RECOGNISE HIM FOR WHO HE IS?

  • Praying in His name… singing songs about Him
  • Using His name to describe our allegiance…Christians!
  • And mixing with other people who follow Him

Yet somehow having a view of Jesus that keeps Him as a babe in the manger… or presents Him to the world as a bearded figure in a white nightie who is somehow detached from the real world?

YET THE REALITY ABOUT JESUS IS SO DIFFERENT from the stereotype…

Even (so-called) pictures of Jesus can be misleading… Tall; pale-skinned; blue eyes; neat, long beard & hair; flowing robes; angelic appearance…

  • Jesus was a Middle-Eastern Jew, almost certainly with brown eyes and tanned skin
  • He probably had short hair…long hair was for Nazirites
  • And a short beard (if any)… long beards were for the ‘clergy’
  • His robe would be calf-length with a ‘wrap-around’ flap of cloth and a ‘jacket’ to wear in colder weather… Only Sadducees and Pharisees wore robes
  • His appearance would certainly have been striking…but not because of his clothing!
  • He tramped the dusty paths and hills of Galilee… His clothes were definitely not snow-white!
  • He knelt in prayer for hours… his knees would be callused
  • He overturned tables in the temple courtyard… his hair would have become dishevelled… his cheeks flushed
  • He faced crowds intent on throwing him from the top of a cliff… stood up to the most powerful men in the land… spoke to thousands scattered across the hillside… endured storms, hunger, abuse, false accusation… sneers, scourging, crucifixion

AND HE SAID THAT HIS FOLLOWERS MUST BE WILLING to endure privations, suffering, persecution… they may not have to but should be willing to do so

It is also possible to misrepresent Jesus through our words and actions … lack of conviction… failure to witness… compromise

Why does the world look upon us, the church of Christ, as largely irrelevant, quaint and harmless?

WE SHOULD NOT BE HARMLESS… except in the sense that we are gentle and loving in our actions towards the needy and poor…

Jesus was not and is not harmless… He was and is a life-transformer by His Spirit!

  • And we have a responsibility to be “dangerous”… different … supernatural beings… throughout the coming year and beyond

So easy for us to become so busy serving God that we never have the time to get close to Him… so in the end, we become detached from the One we are serving

Everything is rush, rush… dashing from this to that… commitments overlapping… pressure, pressure…

  • Of course not everyone is like this… and perhaps those who are too busy would not be under so much pressure if we all played our part instead of standing back… (and in the worst cases, criticising those who are involved)

SO EASY TO ASSUME THAT WE ARE WALKING IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST

  • After all, we are church-goers…committed Christians… Bible-believing… praying… filled with the Spirit (well, sort of!)

IS IT JUST POSSIBLE THAT WE’RE THE SAME as so many people outside the church? accepting the Christ-child… believing that He was amazing… perhaps even believing that He was and is the Saviour of the world AND YET….

  • A passive Jesus… a sweet Jesus… an undemanding Jesus…

When the reality is

  • A tough Jesus… a straight-taking Jesus… a Jesus who asks us to serve Him without reservation…

The way we present Jesus Christ to the world reflects the way we acknowledge Him in our own lives

  • If we present Him as no one special, little wonder the world glances our way… sees nothing to get excited about… shrugs its shoulders and looks elsewhere for fulfilment
  • If we present Him for who He is, the world might reject Him but cannot ignore Him
  • No half-measures… no embarrassment… no casual encounter… no watering down the truth for popular consumption… no doubt whatsoever:

For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel

 


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