I stand before you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Please God fill this sermon with Your grace and let this congregation surrender to You and worship You in the perfect loving peace of your eternal glory. Amen.
I’m just going to share my thoughts on the tonight’s Gospel. Verse by verse.
“And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses,”
This is to take place 40 days after Mary gave birth. I believe this is late October and I’ll explain why. To make sense of things with scripture I tend to work backwards. To find out about the birth of Jesus I start with his crucifixion. Based on Friday Passovers the death of Jesus could only have been either 30AD or 33AD. The events of the damage to the temple due to the earthquake from the crucifixion are recorded in the Jerusalem Talmud and took place in 30AD. There are a few other reasons why I believe this date but I won’t get into those for now. According to Luke, it says Jesus was about thirty when He began His ministry and according to John there were 3 Passover festivals during His ministry. So working back 33 years from that date brings me to 3BC. Many researchers and historians have a problem with this date but they don’t use the Bible to work from. Most historians believe Herod died in 4BC which would mean Christ was born before that date. My research tells me Herod’s sole reign ended in 4BC but he died in the year 1AD.
Below is extra to cut for time:
He co-ruled with his son Antipater who schemed to have his father killed so Herod had him tried in Rome and killed and then had his name expunged from history. Herod died shortly after these events and then his son Archelaus took over rule. Roman historian Josephus records that Herod died in the interval between a lunar eclipse and the following passover. Again, according to Jewish writings Herod’s death is celebrated as a festival by the Jews who hated him.
Pick up again.
The Jewish people in Jerusalem celebrate the date with an annual festival. So he was still alive in 3BC. So, this date fits well scripturally and historically. Was there a census in 3BC that coincides with the Gospels? Romans were greedy for tax money so they conducted a lot of censuses. However, no one had to leave home for a census and usually the head of the household was the only one required to participate as long as the taxes were paid. The census in 3BC was a registration that required an oath of allegiance. All citizens who lived in the Roman empire and were descendent of royalty were required to go to their ancestral village. Joseph and Mary both were descendants of King David and had to register from Bethlehem. This census started in August of 3BC and was finished by December of 3BC. So Jesus was most likely born between these times. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Wheat is an important crop in Bethlehem. Wheat grows in the Spring and is harvested in the summer. Sheep were not allowed in the fields in the spring. In the summer and winter the sheep are kept on farms for added protection since they were being raised for sacrifice and must remain unblemished. Bethlehem resides on the border between the farm belt and the wilderness (which means predators). Fall was the only time of year where sheep were allowed to graze in the farmer’s fields for the leftovers and to leave fertilizer. This would also be there mating season (mainly September and October). Shepherds would watch at night to separate the impregnated females from the rest of the male lambs. It’s still the same cycle today.
Now that gives me either September or October of 3BC.
Luke is showing importance in referencing older people. As if he wants us to understand the importance of their words. Can old people teach us new things? Let’s find out.
Zachariah and Elizabeth were an old couple. Let’s see how Zachariah helps me to narrow things down. Zachariah adhered to the schedule of the high priests. Zachariah’s course was the eighth course. This would be 8 weeks after the Passover. This brings us to early June after the Passover then Jesus would’ve been conceived 6 months later in early December, which would be during the festival of lights (light of the world). John would’ve been born during the Festival of Passover in March when Elijah is expected. 6 months later, Jesus would’ve been born during the Feast of Tabernacles. A celebration of Joy to All nations because God is with us (Emmanuel – God dwelling among us). Also the word used for manger is also used to describe a Sukkot booth. Which is the temporary shelter/hut still built today by the Jews as it was back then to celebrate the exodus from Egypt. This assumption would also coincide with the census and the lambing season. Now we have, September 3BC but today’s Gospel takes us 40 days from there so this is why believe it’s late October. Jesus is 6 weeks old.
“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.”
There was no visit from the wisemen so this is the offering of a poor family. They weren’t presented with the gift of gold yet. So two birds would be an acceptable substitution for a lamb.
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout,…”
There are only about ten people in the bible described as righteous and Simeon is one of them. Wouldn’t be great if this is how someone described you? Righteous and devout. What a beautiful testimony.
Simeon was “waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”
The Holy Spirit was upon him. We think of the Christmas story but we often overlook the bit players like Simeon and Anna but today let’s focus on how important they must be. Here’s a righteous man filled with the Holy Spirit.
“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,…”
The Holy Spirit is referenced three times with this man.
“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[a] depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation”
Translation is tricky from the New Testament. It is written in Koine Greek but what the Jews spoke was Aramaic not Greek. Aramaic is a slang form of ancient Hebrew. So I believe Simeon was speaking Aramaic. In the verse before the Gospel, Jesus is circumcised and named. Here is where Simeon also declares His name.
Simeon not only saw his salvation but held it in his arms. Was Simeon righteous because of the things he did? No. He was righteous because he knew he needed God and that he needed a savior!
“For my eyes have seen God’s salvation (Yahweh-shua in Hebrew), Jesus to us.
“that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
According to my personal research Jesus was conceived during the Festival of Lights. Again a light for revelation to the Gentiles. Jesus reveals all things to us.
Simeon has looked into the eyes of 6-week-old baby Jesus. Simeon has seen the physical face of God and lived. Simeon is now declaring the name Jesus to all who would hear.
Let’s compare this to others who have beheld the glory of God. Moses was allowed to see the glory of God. I believe Moses was even carried by God and placed in a cleft in the rocks on the side of the mountain. Moses asks to behold God’s glory. God basically tells Moses, “OK, but not my face.” God’s face contains the full glory of His goodness and love. I guess the eyes are the windows to the soul and no one can handle looking deep into the eyes of God and seeing the love of God’s soul. There are bible verses that say Moses spoke face to face with God but a better translation would be that Moses spoke to God and was in His presence.
God defies the laws of nature and the laws of physics but when He takes on the form of a man then some of those laws that He created do impact Him bodily. The physical presence He manifested was filled with His glory. In order for lightwaves to pass around the circumference of an orb the waves and particles work together to bend themselves to move around the object and appear to go through without actually passing through resulting in the brightest point being in the middle of the darkest shadow. It’s called the Arago spot. Basically, each of God’s eyes become an eclipse. At the circumference of the orbs the light waves grab point sources and then bend due to diffraction. This brightest point in the center would then be intense points of light being emitted like laser beams. So as living humans we can’t make eye contact with God.
At least not yet. Moses was allowed to be held and then to see God’s hand as He passed by, blocking His full glory and then Moses saw His back as He passed by. Jesus had the hands and the back of a first century carpenter and stone mason. The callouses, dirt and sweat covered their glory. Jesus’s hands were pierced and His back was torn from the Roman whips. But immediately following the resurrection, where Jesus’ full glory pulsed briefly from inside His linen wrappings. Christ would’ve had an afterglow as He left the tomb. This is what Moses was allowed to see. The aftereffects of God passing by. Paul was allowed to see Christs’ glory and was blinded. Moses still needed to wear a veil before his followers due to the radiance of seeing God that still shone from his face. Elijah also saw God. Elijah was also on a mountain standing in cave when he met God. God puts on a display mocking the thunder God of fertility Ba’al. He causes a great wind, followed by an earthquake and then thunder and fire. But Elijah’s watches all of this and isn’t blinded so doesn’t see God. Then there is silence. And Elijah hears the sound of silence. Not the song that I spoke about in my last sermon but God’s whisper. And Elijah immediately covers his face to go before the presence of God. Again, the glory of His face is too much for these great prophets. Even the apostle John describes the glorious face of Jesus but I believe he was allowed to see it as a mental image. I believe John was put into a spiritual state for this vision so it’s not the full physical glory of Jesus/God. But John is able to describe the face. Eyes like fire (the laser eclipse I mentioned before), white hair that has absorbed the fullness of His light into the pigment molecules. Skin illuminated from the inside to appear like brass. This is actually something you can see today. Biohackers for the last twenty years have been implanting LED lights under their skin. They activate when magnetized. These will probably be the tattoos of the future.
Here we have one more great prophet or two if we read a little further. Simeon and Anna. Anna the prophetess who is mentioned in the next lines of Luke. Two of the last great prophets representing the prophets of the Old Testament. Jesus is the rock of refuge for believers. Now the face of God can be seen. Perfect glory hidden behind the eyes of a baby boy. Simeon declares the name of Jesus and continues…
“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.”
Simeon the prophet recognizes God as Peter, James and John did at His transfiguration where they saw Him together in His perfect glory with Moses and Elijah. What always makes me happy about that (besides the revelation of the glory of Christ) is that the disciples see Moses in the heart of the Holy Land that he wasn’t allowed to enter in life. A revelation of God’s eternal and perfect forgiveness in the eyes of Christ. The transfiguration is also a mental image according to the words of Jesus. A vision meant for Peter, James and John. And, of course, us. Jesus is the face of our creator, our salvation and our forgiveness. The true and perfect face of love.