Blog / Book of the Month / Our Childhood’s Pattern / Luke 2:22–38 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday February 2nd 2020 / Season Of Epiphany - The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Our Childhood’s Pattern / Luke 2:22–38 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday February 2nd 2020 / Season Of Epiphany - The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Our Childhood’s Pattern / Luke 2:22–38 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday February 2nd 2020 / Season Of Epiphany - The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday February 2nd 2020: Season of Epiphany - The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord / Luke 2:22–38 "Our Childhood’s Pattern"

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

          “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.”       

          And His father and His mother marveled at what was said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.

Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. “For He is our childhood’s pattern, Day by day like us He grew; He was little, weak, and helpless, Tears and smiles like us He knew; And He feels for all our sadness, And He shares in all our gladness,”[1] that’s the 3rd verse of Once in Royal David’s City, a mid 19th Century Irish Christmas hymn from 1848, written by “Fanny” Alexander an Anglican minister’s wife and mother, her maiden name was Humphreys, she was born in Dublin Ireland.[2] But we’re past Christmas aren’t we? We’re in Epiphany now aren’t we? Yes but today we look as a Scriptural text that focuses in on Jesus as an infant, as a little guy who is just starting out in His earthly life as one who will grow from being a baby into the Jesus we are most familiar with the adult Jesus, and that verse of that hymn also neatly dovetails into our Bible passage today too. It reminds us that Jesus didn’t start being our Saviour in the waters of the Jordan River at His baptism and public Anointing by John the Baptizer at the age of 30, no Jesus was our Saviour from before the foundations of Creation, from before His incarnation, His conception by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, from before his birth which we celebrate at Christmas, Jesus has in fact been our childhood’s pattern from his earliest moments in this life because day by day like us He grew; because He was little, weak, and helpless as we have all been, because He knew tears and smiles like us; and, because he experienced a human life as we have, Jesus then does in fact feel all our sadness, And He truly shares in all our gladness. 

Every detail of how the Salvation of God in Christ Jesus would eventually play out for you and me was yet to be seen, Jesus was a little baby and the details of all of those events, like His public ministry and His cross and passion, were as yet a mystery in the same way that when you hold a baby in your arms and look into their little face you cannot know every detail of the way that things will go for them in their life. What we get with Jesus, even by this point though, are some broad strokes some major hints and prophetic words that begin to paint a picture of what is to come, so while we don’t see every detail on the day that the baby Jesus was presented at the Temple in Jerusalem we aren’t left completely in the dark.

Mary, even before that day, knew her Child was going to be both like and unlike other children because the angel Gabriel had come to her announcing that she would bear the Christ Child. She had been told that this Jesus would “be great and [He would] be called the Son of the Most High. And [that] the Lord God [would] give to Him the throne of His father [the sainted King David of Old], and [that this Jesus would] reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom,” the angel Gabriel said, “there [would] be no end,”[3] and Joseph the Virgin Mary’s betrothed and future husband had known that this boy who he was to raise as his son would “save His people from their sins,”[4] but the how and the when were not revealed to them. As they entered into the Temple in Jerusalem they knew these things, these things had already been told to them, so when the venerable and elderly Simeon came to them and took the baby Jesus in his arms and said that he was looking at the messiah, the long expected Christ, that he was in fact looking at God’s promised salvation in the flesh and says, that this Jesus was the one that God had “prepared in the presence of all peoples, to be a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to [His] people Israel,” these inerrant Words inspired by the Holy Spirit spoken by Simeon were further confirmation of what God had originally told them by angels.

If they, in the days following Jesus’ birth, were tempted to think, to ask, “Did God actually say,”[5] “[This Child] will save His people from their sins,” “[This Child] will be called the Son of the Most High,” then Simeon and Anna’s words and praise prompted and inspired by the Holy Spirit would encourage Mary and Joseph set aside any doubt. Old Simeon’s words may also have reminded them of something Isaiah said in the Old Testament about the coming future Servant of the LORD, what they likely had not yet understood was that these Words from Isaiah were actually Words from the promised Christ Jesus being spoken through Isaiah for them and for all future generations when Isaiah said, “Listen to Me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called Me from the womb, from the body of My mother He named My name. He made My mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He hid Me; He made Me a polished arrow; in His quiver He hid Me away. And He said to Me, “You are My servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”[6] What did Simeon say? He said that this Jesus would be a light for revelation to the Gentiles for the whole world, and for glory to God’s people Israel. Jesus hidden away in the Hand of His heavenly Father, tucked away like a polished arrowed head at the tip of an arrow in a quiver. Ready to be pulled forth and nocked in a bow, ready to be revealed at just the right time, for just the right purpose, one who would open His mouth and speak words of power and authority like a sharpened sword; Simeon also says to Mary and Joseph, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

This is the bundle of joy they carry into the Temple that day; this is the Child they hold in their arms. And in this way the baby Jesus is still concealed, still like the polished arrow in the quiver. Simeon and Anna know, the Virgin Mary and Joseph know, God the Father and the Holy Spirit know, and Jesus in His all-knowingness knows, even though He is too young to say it. He at that time - while still the saviour of the world -is concealed, knowledge of who He is would not be public until He stands as a man in the Jordan River and is baptized by the John the Baptizer. So this Jesus would grow and He, although He was both God and Man, would live His life in submission to His mother the Virgin Mary and to Joseph her husband His adoptive father[7] perfectly fulfilling the fourth commandment honouring them serving and obeying them, loving and cherishing them never angering or despising them or any authority for He is our childhood’s pattern. As just one child amongst many in those days Jesus your Saviour, as yet hidden away, even then fulfilled every aspect of the Law of God without failure in your place. We however do not follow the pattern perfectly as Jesus did. There are times in our life where we have not honoured or Mother and Father as He Honoured His, there are times when we have sinned and caused our parents to become angry, and there are times when we have despised our mother or father or sometimes both our mother and father. This can happen even after they are long dead and buried, even if you have never met them or do not know where they are. There are times when we have failed in loving and cherishing them for all of these times there is forgiveness because in Jesus you have a Saviour who saves you from this sin, where you have not kept the God ordained pattern of childhood perfectly Jesus has and in that perfection you have redemption by His blood which He shed for you at His cross.

Even there He looked after the needs of His mother. Knowing that He was about to die and that after His resurrection from the dead she would need someone to look after her daily needs Jesus from His cross looked down to the Virgin Mary and His disciple St. John and “said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then [Jesus] said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple [John] took her to his own home.”[8] Even as those who opposed Jesus had Him murdered by the hand of the Romans, even as the sword of Jesus’ crucifixion pierced through the Virgin Mary’s soul, even then Jesus was fulfilling the childhood pattern of honouring His mother.

Last week I reminded you of how you are made by your heavenly Father, by Christ, by the Holy Spirit for a purpose, to be a child of God, a brother a sister of this Christ Jesus and I spoke a blessing on you from the Book of Hebrews saying, “may the God of peace … equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ,”[9] This week I say to you that you are chosen by God “not [as] a result of works,” not as a result of anything you have done, no, as St. Paul says the fact that God has chosen you and made you His is a gift that is not of your own doing, it is by grace through faith that you have been saved so that no one may boast.” Now listen here, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”[10] Again Jesus walks before us, He is our pattern we follow Him. God has chosen you to walk as a child of the Light, to follow Jesus, and where you fall remember He stands, where you leave the path He both remains on the path and rescues you from your wandering, where you sin and break the pattern prepared for you by God Christ Jesus has kept the pattern without breaking it. He is the new Adam, He is Israel the Children of Israel reduced to one, He swaps the measure of sin from your life with the measure of righteousness and sinlessness from His so that you would be one saved from yourself and from all that has brought you harm.

This baby that the Virgin Mary and Joseph and Simeon and Anna held in their arms that day at the Temple in Jerusalem would one day open His lips and the sword of His mouth would cut through the lies of the devil, the lies we tell ourselves, the lies we tell each other. This child hidden away in the hollow of His Father Almighty Hand, this Child hidden away for nine months in the womb of the Virgin, this child hidden away in a simple and plain childhood with tears and smiles, with sadness and gladness was ever and always the polished arrow ready to slay “the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan,”[11] to shoot through the heart of our sin, to lay destruction to death, to end the World, to Make all things new.  

In his letter to the Ephesian Christians St. Paul explains it like this when he says, “In him [in this Jesus] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Him [in this Jesus] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory.” Simeon knew that the fullness of time had come, Simeon was like one who had, by the grace of God, by the Holy Spirit, looked into God the Father’s quiver and having seen arrow after arrow now looked with great joy upon the polished arrow, the one hidden away for the purpose of saving him for saving us all. Both He and Anna celebrated at this revelation. 

Now here is an important thing for you today. You know who Jesus is. It is easy to think that everyone in the World knows who Jesus is and what He has done. That everyone would be able to pick out this baby in the arms of the Virgin Mary and Joseph and Simeon and Anna from this Biblical account as the fulfilment of the promise of salvation. This however is not the case. The Holy Spirit tipped off Simeon whose words, which we sing in the song of Simeon the Nunc Dimittis, have in turn proclaimed this Jesus for centuries: And in addition to this the Holy Spirit has employed people in your life, mothers and father, family and friends, pastors and church workers to share with you who this Jesus is so that you would know Him, so that you can strive to steadfastly follow in His footsteps and trust in Him for the forgiveness that you need in this life. You then, what about you? Is the Holy Spirit at work using you to point out Jesus to others? Do you resist this work of the Holy Spirit? If you do, stop resisting it: from your open mouth the love of God will pour forth, pointing to this Jesus who is our childhood’s pattern, our way and our Life. “In Him we live and move and have our being”[12] This is not for us alone, this Christ Child, this Jesus is for everyone not only for those as near to us as family and friends but also for those peoples from afar. Amen.    

Let us pray:

Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] Lutheran Service Book, Once in Royal David’s City verse 3, Concordia Publishing House 2006, #376
[2] While Cecil Frances “Fanny” Alexander née Humphreys wrote “Once in Royal David’s City” before she was married to Rev. William Alexander and before she had given birth to their daughter Eleanor Jane Alexander she had long had an interest in children and writing hymns for them even publishing a book of them called Hymns for Little Children (1848) which included a couple other well known hymns like "All Things Bright and Beautiful", "There Is a Green Hill Far Away."
[3] Luke 1:32–33
[4] Matthew 1:21
[5] Genesis 3:1
[6] Isaiah 49:1–3
[7] Luke 2:51
[8] John 19:26–27
[9] Hebrews 13:20–21
[10] Ephesians 2:8–10
[11] Revelation 20:2
[12] Acts 17:28