When Jesus was 40 days old he was taken to the temple in Jerusalem for the Jewish religious ritual of redemption. This ritual was a ceremony for boys according to the law of Moses. His mother was also there for her Jewish ritual of purification or cleansing. Scripture tells us that a pair of doves or two young pigeons were sacrificed which was a sign that Mary and Joseph may not have been wealthy enough to afford a lamb. Also, the firstborn son had to be redeemed as well. (see Numbers 18:14-16) The redemption price set by God was five sanctuary shekels.
In order to fulfill the ceremonial Law, Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple. There they were met by an old man named Simeon. Luke 2: 25 tells us that Simeon was a "righteous and devout man". Luke's gospel tells us that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon and that he had been moved by the Holy Spirit to go to the temple.
Simeon's special distinction was that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he saw the Messiah, and upon seeing the baby Jesus, verses 29-32 tell us what he said: "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 people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
In his incarnation Jesus not only fulfilled the prophecy given to Simeon but more importantly fulfilled the promise made to Adam that a seed of the woman would one day come and crush the head of Satan. (Genesis 3:15) Both Joseph and Mary marveled at the extraordinary words of Simeon, and with this, the old man then blessed them.
At the height of this blessed moment, Simeon then uttered part two of his prophecy. But instead of continued good news, Simeon ended his great utterance with these dark prophetic words: "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." (Verses 34-35)
What seemed to be good news suddenly became bad news. It was a case of "I have some good news and I have some really bad news".
Mary would always remember these words. Even though she might not have fully understood the prophecy, she would remember those final words as Jesus was hanging on the cross. There would be no greater anguish for Mary than to witness the pain, suffering and crucifixion of her first-born son.
It is during the Christmas season that as Christians our focus is on Jesus. But the one thing we fail to remember is the work of the most important person in the life of Jesus. That person is the person and work of the Holy Spirit who was responsible for the incarnation of Jesus, and it is the Holy Spirit who works in the people of God today.
Just as the Holy Spirit led old Simeon to the temple 2000 years ago, so it also the Holy Spirit who is responsible for leading every potential believer to the cross today. The Holy Spirit works in leading and guiding people.
It was the Holy Spirit that filled and anointed Jesus for his ministry. It was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus out into the wilderness to be tested, and it was the Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus to withstand the temptations of the devil. After Jesus' wilderness experience it was the Holy Spirit that brought Jesus back to his hometown of Nazareth, who, under the power of the anointing of the Holy Spirit, read from the prophet Isaiah the passage which applied to him.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised". (Luke 4:18)
While Jesus walked the earth, he displayed the potential which was wrapped up in him as the perfect Man. He had wisdom, he had power, he performed miracles, and the question one must ask . . . would this potential power have also been in the very first Adam and his descendants if Adam had never sinned? We simply do not know. We only have an inkling of what the potential would have been for an unfallen race when we look at the life and ministry of Jesus.
C.S. Lewis said this: "Whatever may have been the powers of unfallen man, it appears that those of redeemed man will be almost unlimited." This is very interesting!
After his resurrection Luke's gospel alone records these powerful final words of Jesus before he ascended into heaven: "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high". (Luke 24: 49)
Jesus told them that he would send them power from on high . . . the Holy Spirit! In Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost, Luke records the coming of the Spirit.
In His incarnation Jesus came into this world as man. When he walked this earth and ministered he did it as man, when he went to the cross to die for our sins he went to the cross as man. Even though he died as man he was able to raise himself from the grave as resurrected Man. No angel could ever die for man since angels do not experience physical death, and so God became man so that he could taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9)
In closing, God's plan of the ages can be summarized with these words by Ian Thomas from his book entitled "The Mystery of Godliness":
- He had to come as He did . . . to be what He was.
- He had to be what He was . . . to do what He did.
- He had to do what He did . . . that we might have what He is.
- We must have what He is . . . to be what He was.
Jesus came into this world conceived by the Holy Spirit. He went to the cross empowered by the Holy Spirit. He endured the agony of the cross by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was able to dismiss his life by the power of the Holy Spirit, and he was able to raise himself out from the dead by the Holy Spirit.
The greatest gift of God to mankind is God's gift of his Son . . . but even greater still is the same Spirit that brought life to Jesus resides in every believer today. With his ascension into heaven, Jesus gave the church the gift of His everlasting presence, more precious than all the silver and all the gold in the world.
May you be encouraged as you face the daily trials of life, that Jesus has given us his Spirit to help us cope in our life's journey and the assurance that he will carry us when we cannot carry ourselves.
Love, blessings and thanksgiving for your faithful financial donations as we reach out to show the love of God to the hurting children of the world.
Pastor Roman & Pat Kozak