Luke 4:31-44 The Messiah’s authority Joint Service with Shaftesbury Square & Airdrie RPC

If this video is not working click here for the direct link.

We live in a culture that struggles to submit to authority.  The automatic reaction of many is to challenge authority in every sphere of life.  Such an outlook was evident in Eden when man refused to accept the Creator’s authority.  When the Messiah comes, we see him exercise an authority that none can miss, however reluctant they may be to submit to it.  We turn now to consider Luke 4:31-44 The Messiah’s authority.

1. Authority in teaching

Jesus makes a strong impression on his hearers in Capernaum – ‘his message had authority’ (v32).  In his teaching as well as his works, Jesus displays messianic authority.  The traditional teaching method of the scribes was appeal to the authority of earlier generations of rabbis, not their own opinions.  Jesus taught with authority because:

  – He taught from God – bringing direct revelation (John 8:28), not from human sources.

  – He taught as God – speaking as the incarnate Son of God.  The same pattern is evident in the Sermon on the Mount – ‘But I tell you…’ (Matthew 5:22) – the words of God.

2. Authority over demons

Preaching was accompanied by action – frequent exorcisms, such as v33-35.  Note that the demon recognises Jesus (v34) but there is no resulting faith (see James 1:19).  Jesus responds with absolute authority – no struggle, no debate.  The demon must obey his command – ‘Come out of him’ – and the man is freed.  This has a profound effect on the witnesses (v36).  There was a great upsurge of demonic activity during Jesus’ ministry because they understood the threat he posed (v41).  He came ‘to destroy the devil’s work’ (1 John 3:8).  The demons could not frustrate the ministry of the Messiah – he wields unquestionable authority.

3. Authority over sickness

The healings such as those in v38-40 are also evidence of messianic authority.  Doctor Luke is more precise than others about the illness of ‘Simon’s mother-in-law’ (v38).  Healing is instant and complete, no convalescence needed.  In the evening many are brought to Jesus for healing from sickness and demon possession (recognised as different).  The healings support his message.  They are ‘signs’ of his identity as Messiah and indicators that he has come to transform lives.  Physical healing will pass, but he brings profound spiritual change, the ‘year of the Lord’s favour’ (v18-19).  Jesus gives life ‘to the full’ (John 10:10).

4. Authority in mission

Note v42 ‘Jesus went out to a solitary place – there he prayed (Mark1:35).  Communion with his Father was crucial to his ministry.  Despite requests to stay, he responds, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…because that is why I was sent’ (v43).  He has a divine mission to carry out, as he said in the temple, aged 12 (2:49).  He proclaims ‘the kingdom of God’ – the saving reign of God.  The Messiah provides full salvation from sin and all that destroys life.  The Messiah has full authority to save and transform sinners.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 God is Faithful

If the video is not working you can click here

In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is addressing a church which has its fair share of problems. There are factions within the church, sexual immorality is prevalent, lawsuits are being carried out amongst believers and the resurrection of Christ is being denied. Here then was a Church of God (v.2) not acting as they ought to. How would you have approached this situation? Remarkably Paul begins with thanksgiving. He is writing to correct and address the issues in Corinth, but begins with thanksgiving. Paul’s hope for the reform of the Corinthian church is not in their ability to change themselves, but in a faithful God who supplies grace for change and endurance. From that place of confidence, Paul addresses the Corinthian Church.

  1. Grace Given by God

Paul begins by thanking God for giving grace to the Corinthians (v.4). Saving grace must have been received as Paul refers to those ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus’. The grace that allowed Paul to legitimately regard these people as believers was from God, through Christ. It’s grace because it’s undeserved. Think of what these believers were like before grace. Nothing in that collection of people was deserving of God’s salvation. Give thanks then that God saves by grace and not by merit. We are all saved by grace. Paul doesn’t commend the Corinthians for their merits, but he thanks God for his grace towards these people. Salvation is a work of God and it is given to us. Do we recognise this and are we thankful for this?

  • Equipped to Await Christ’s return

Having received salvation, we still need to navigate living in a sinful world. A new heaven and a new earth await us but we aren’t there yet and we are called to wait for the Lord’s return. Thankfully, we are not left to navigate this wait on our own – grace saves and grace equips us to await for the Lord’s return. The Corinthians were enriched and gifted, so that they lacked no gift as they waited (v.7). In a sense, the Corinthians had no excuse. God had equipped them through Christ and the Spirit to endure and they had gone astray. They were neglecting and misusing God’s gifts. Yes, these people had been saved, but they had also been ‘called to be holy’. They are responsible for living holy lives. We have a calling and a responsibility to live holy lives before God as we await the Lord’s return. Thankfully God equips us for this.

  • Fellowship Guaranteed by a Faithful God

Even as we pursue holiness in this life, we fall short and this can cause believers anxiety about possibly losing their salvation. Yet verses 8-9 of our passage are a tremendous encouragement. Paul’s hope lay with a God who faithfully saves, preserves and delivers his people until the end. He is able to keep his people and has promised to do so. Christianity is a relationship, and we have been called into fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. This is an eternal relationship. Those who trust in Christ as their Lord and Saviour will be forgiven and kept ‘strong to the end’ and ‘blameless’ on that last day when we will enter eternal and unhindered fellowship with Jesus. We often base our assurance of faith on recent performance and feelings, but we should base it on a faithful God. One who faithfully forgives those who call on him and faithfully provides all that we need to wait until the Lord’s return. Our salvation is secure because it is guaranteed by a faithful God.

Matthew Magee

Luke 4:14-30 The Messiah rejected

if the video is not working then you can click here.

The Jews had been waiting for the Messiah for centuries.  When he finally came, we would expect them to recognise him and flock to him.  At times Jesus did have a large following, but in the end, the general response was rejection, especially on the part of the religious leaders (see John 1:11).  We have an example of this rejection in the synagogue in Nazareth.  We turn now to consider Luke 4:14-30 The Messiah rejected.

1. Early acceptance

A considerable period elapses between v13 and v14, perhaps as much as a year, with events such as John 1:19-4:42 fitting into this time.  Each Gospel writer selected and arranged events for particular purposes, as the Holy Spirit guided them (see 2 Peter 1:21).  The crucial statement is v14 – Jesus returns ‘in the power of the Spirit’, following on from his baptism and temptation.  Though much remains mysterious to us, we know Jesus was fully equipped by the Spirit for his ministry.  To begin with, as he became known, ‘everyone praised him’ (v14-15).  Initially there was a period of acceptance, even popularity, as people try to understand who he is.  Note ‘All spoke well of him’ (v22), but the response is temporary.

2. Present fulfilment

Synagogue attendance was part of Jesus’ life (v16).  The synagogue was mainly a lay organisation and someone like Jesus could be asked to bring a message to the congregation.  He reads Isaiah 61:1-2, a passage of great importance for his understanding of his mission.  Isaiah’s words, given by the Lord, are programmatic for the Messiah’s ministry.  Note:

            (i). Who: ‘he has anointed me’ (v18) – it is the Lord’s doing (Isaiah 61:1).  The Messiah is ‘the Anointed One’, anointed not with oil but with the Holy Spirit.  The sovereign Lord has brought history to this moment.

            (ii). What: the Messiah’s work is ‘to preach good news to the poor’ – to those who realise their spiritual poverty.  Those imprisoned by sin will be freed.  All the forces that oppress and destroy life will be defeated.  The ‘year of the Lord’s favour’ is the fulfilment of the Jubilee Year in the OT.  The Messiah will give new life, the blessings of God’s covenant.

            (iii). When: the crucial statement is in v21 ‘today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’.  The prophetic vision is already being fulfilled, with the exception of ‘the day of vengeance of our God’, which is still to come.  The Messiah brings salvation: their response?

3. Violent hostility

The initial response seems favourable (v22) but Jesus knows their hearts are unmoved.  He is challenged to repeat his miracles elsewhere.  He will not be accepted in his home town, and Jesus responds with examples of Gentiles in the OT who did believe.  His hearers are furious (v28) and try to kill him, but he escapes miraculously, and it seems he never returned.  It is a serious mistake to reject the God-given Messiah who is our only hope of salvation.

Luke 4:1-13 The battle in the wilderness

If the video is not working you can click here.

Often in life a ‘high point’ – a success, a time of joy – is followed by a time of trial, a ‘low point’ when we struggle, doubt or question.  We may think at such times that we are the only one to have such an experience, but that is not the case.  We see this clearly in the experience of Jesus.  We turn now to consider Luke 4:1-13 The battle in the wilderness.

1. The necessary preparation

The encounter here is no accident – what happens ‘in the wilderness’ (v1) is planned by God.  Note Jesus is ‘led by the Spirit’ – al is in the hands of a sovereign God.  Jesus confronts Satan – he goes into the wilderness to do battle, and he goes at the divine initiative.  The wilderness is a place of hardship and testing – as it was for Israel, when the Lord ‘tested them’ at Marah (Exodus 15:25).  It is now the place of testing for the Messiah.  After the high point at the Jordan, his commitment is now tested – will he walk the hard path assigned in God’s decree and how will he use the Spirit’s power?  The devil comes and tempts him – these are real temptations, he ‘suffered when he was tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18), but as a result he ‘is able to help those who are being tempted’.  The Holy Spirit is crucial – ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ (v1).

2. The triple assault

As he is ‘tempted by the devil’ (v2) Jesus is still acting as the representative of his people.  Our first representative, Adam, gave way to temptation and plunged his descendants into sin (1 Corinthians 15:22).  Jesus is ‘the last Adam’ (1 Corinthians 15:45) and he will stand where Adam fell, and the benefits will flow to all who are ‘in him’ by faith.  How could a sinless saviour be tempted?  It is perhaps best to see the temptations as being to attain a good end through wrong means, in particular avoiding the cross.  Note:

            (i). ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread’ (v3).  He is to prove his identity with a miracle for his own benefit, but he ‘came to serve’ (Mark 10:45), and answers with Deuteronomy 8:3.  The Word is his weapon and obedience his delight.

            (ii). ‘all the kingdoms of the world’ (v5).  Satan could offer only the allegiance of sinful men.  Jesus will not accept the offer – salvation for sinners comes only through the cross and his is a righteous kingdom.  He answers with Deuteronomy 6:13, the path he walks.

            (iii). ‘throw yourself down from here’ (v10).  The devil quotes part of Psalm 91:11-12, suggesting one spectacular test of God’s promise.  Jesus will instead walk the road of daily trust in his Father, and he quotes Deuteronomy 6:16 in answer to the devil.

3. The ongoing warfare

The Messiah was victorious, but ‘the devil…left him until an opportune time’ (v13) – the battle will continue throughout his ministry, but with the same outcome.  We too are in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:10ff), but we share in the victory of Christ by faith, and ‘he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:18).  He won the victory for us.

Luke 3:21-38 The Messiah revealed

having difficulty with the video. click here

As the Gospels show, Jesus often acted in ways that were totally unexpected.  People could be left baffled, yet Jesus always had profound reasons for his actions.  They all played a part in the unfolding of the divine plan of salvation.  We see an example of this as Jesus comes to the Jordan to be baptised by John.  John is deeply puzzled by this – surely it should be the other way around?  We turn now to consider Luke 3:21-38 The Messiah revealed.

1. The baptism of the Messiah

Why is Jesus baptised (v21)?  If John’s baptism relates to repentance for sin and Jesus has no sin for which to repent (Hebrews 4:15), what does this mean?  More information is provided in Matthew 3.  John knows that as a sinner he should be baptised by Jesus (v14), but Jesus gets to the heart of the matter in v15 ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness’.  Jesus is fulfilling every aspect of the righteous requirements of God’s law – the law we have all broken.  He obeys God’s law as the representative of his people – his obedience will be counted as ours.  In his baptism, Jesus identifies fully with those he has come to save.  He is ‘made to be sin’ for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He acts as the substitute for sinners who deserve God’s wrath on account of their breaking his law.

2. The endorsement of the Messiah

In response to Jesus’ prayer (v21) the Holy Spirit and the Father provide an endorsement of the path of obedience that he is walking.  This is a profoundly trinitarian passage that testifies powerfully to God’s 3-in-1 nature.  All 3 persons are involved.  Note:

            (i). The gift of the Holy Spirit.  As the Spirit descends visibly (v22) he identifies Jesus to John as the Messiah (John 1:33) and equips Jesus for his messianic mission, in fulfilment of Isaiah 42:1.  The dove speaks of purity and gentleness, the Messiah’s character.

            (ii). The voice of the Father.  The words of the Father (v22) affirm at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, as he is about to be tested by Satan (4:1ff), his love for his Son and assure him of his approval of the path he follows to the cross.  The plan of salvation laid in eternity is coming to fulfilment and the Father’s heart rejoices.  Psalm 2:7 is the background.

3. The genealogy of the Messiah

Genealogy is part of the Jewish person’s identity.  When Luke’s version is compared with Matthew 1:2ff there are major differences.  It seems Luke actually traces the genealogy of Mary, whilst Matthew gives that of Joseph in the royal line of David.  Note:

            (i). God’s providence.  Through all the twists of history, with very imperfect people, God still provides a wonderful salvation through the Messiah’s work.

            (ii). Jesus’ identity.  He is fully human, as the genealogy testifies, yet also fully God.  He did not descend from Joseph (v23) – God is his Father.  The sinful line of Adam is broken.

Luke 3:7-20 The Testimony of John

If the video is not working you can click here

The evangelical culture that promotes ‘celebrity preachers’ is profoundly dangerous – it puts the focus on the preacher and God tends to be relegated to the side-lines.  That brings all kinds of temptations to the preacher who receives this attention, and also pressures to maintain popularity at all costs.  John the Baptist faced such dangers in his ministry.  We turn now to consider Luke 3:7-20 The testimony of John.

1. A solemn warning

Since baptism requires repentance and repentance requires a recognition of sin, John does not avoid this difficult subject.  He speaks directly and with great courage (v7).  He speaks of ‘the coming wrath’ – God’s wrath is his holy, settled attitude to all that offends his holiness.  It is his appropriate judicial action against sin.  There will be a future climax to the present reality of judgment (Romans 1:18).  The only appropriate response is repentance, which is to be made visible in action – the ‘fruit in keeping with repentance’ (v8).  John sweeps away false hopes such as ‘We have Abraham as our father’.  It is not too late – the axe is ‘at the root of the tree’ (v9), but the blow has not yet fallen.  There is hope of deliverance.

2. A vital question

John’s words have a profound impact: ‘What should we do then?’ (v10).  True repentance must be demonstrated by action.  A loud religious profession may be spurious (Matthew 7:21).  John responds in a conscience-searching way:

            v11 There must be open-hearted care for those in need.

            v12 Tax-collectors – greedy traitors – are to do business honestly.

            v14 Soldiers are not to abuse their power, but are to be content with their pay.

True repentance is life-changing, impacting a person’s character and all of his life.

3. A humble witness

Inevitably people ‘were all wondering…if John might be the Christ’ (v15).  He resisted temptations to exalt his own position (see John 1:20) and bore a humble witness.  Note:

            (i). The inferiority of his person.  He points to ‘one more powerful than I’ (v16), for whom he will perform the most menial service.  John knows his role will shrink (John 3:30).

            (ii). The inferiority of his baptism.  John baptised with water, the symbol of inner cleansing, but the Messiah will bring the inner reality – ‘He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire’ (v16) – the Holy Spirit acting like fire.  The ‘winnowing fork’ (v17) indicates separation – the saved (‘wheat’) gathered in and the unsaved (‘chaff’) suffering the fire of judgment.  The Messiah is both Saviour and Judge.

4. A high price

John’s imprisonment (v19) actually took place during Jesus’ ministry (Matthew 14:3).  John shows great faithfulness and courage in confronting Herod regarding his immorality.  The price of faithfulness to Jesus may be high, including the world’s hatred (1 John 3:13).

Luke 3:1-6 Preparing the way

if video is not working click here

If a royal visit is to take place, all necessary preparations have to be made.  Not to prepare adequately would be to dishonour the visitor.  The same was true in the ancient world.  Indeed, for the arrival of some great dignitary a road might even have to be constructed.  What if the Coming One is God himself?  We turn now to consider Luke 3:1-6 Preparing the way

1. Located in history

For some 30 years the Messiah has been developing and maturing in private.  Our only glimpse is his visit to the temple at age 12 (2:41-52).  No longer will that be the case.  With the preparatory ministry of John the Baptist, the arrival of the Messiah becomes public.  Events are firmly located in history (v1-2), probably around AD 25-26.  All the significant secular and religious leaders are listed.  The events of the ministries of John and Jesus take place on the stage of world history – this is not hearsay, much less myth or legend.  Note:

            (i). Luke is a fine historian.  Where his information can be tested, he always passes the test – note ‘carefully investigated’ (1:3).  The proven reliability of Acts gives us confidence in his Gospel record.  Christians need have no fear when historical evidence regarding the Bible is investigated.  We are dealing with real events, God’s work in history.

            (ii). God is a sovereign God.  He has prepared for this moment from eternity.  His plan has unfolded through the centuries, including the fate of nations and the lives of individuals.  All is now ready, and the actions of the people listed here are under his direction – they do ‘what your power and will decided beforehand should happen’ (Acts 4:28)

2. Preaching a baptism

In this prepared setting, the Lord moves – ‘the word of the Lord came to John’ (v2).  This is John’s call to be a prophet of the Lord.  The voice of prophecy, silent for 400 years is again heard from Zechariah, Simeon, Anna and especially John – the Messiah is about to be revealed.  These are the ‘last days’ (Hebrews 1:2), the definitive time of salvation.

            The word is central to John’s ministry – baptism follows from it.  It is a word that demands a response.  His baptism (v3) is a radical message, calling Jews as well as Gentiles, shocking Jews who may well have thought they did not need this.  All need the Messiah’s work.  The core issue is repentance, sorrow for sins as an offence against God, leading to forgiveness.  Baptism is the outward sign of an inner change effected by God’s grace.

3. Calling in the desert

John, as the last of the OT prophets, announces the fulfilment of prophecy in his ministry.  He quotes in v4 from Isaiah 40:3-5.  John is ‘the voice’, 700 years after Isaiah wrote.  Isaiah’s call to prepare for the Lord to deliver his people from exile foreshadows the Messiah’s coming to deliver from sin (v6).  All obstacles will be removed, as roads are prepared for an important visitor (v5).  Note ‘all mankind’ (v6) – there is a universality in the Good News.  The work of the Messiah is for sinners of all kinds – words full of hope for needy sinners.

Wisdom Calls – Proverbs 8

If the video doesn’t work click here

In this passage Wisdom is calling out. A cry like this would usually indicate some sort of loss, hurt or danger. However, Wisdom doesn’t cry because of any danger she is facing, but because of the danger that we are in. Wisdom is calling to us for we are in danger and this danger could have eternal consequences if not addressed. Two questions we must consider then;

  1. Are we aware of the warning?
  2. Are we responding to the warning?

As Wisdom calls, it’s worth investigating the true identity of Wisdom, those that Wisdom addresses and finally the offer that Wisdom gives to those who listen.

  1. The Identity of Wisdom

If we look at the claims of Wisdom in Proverbs 8 we can get clues regarding the true identity of our speaker. Spoiler – it is Christ who calls. Some of the clues are:

  1. Wisdom is the authority of authorities. (vv. 15-16)
  2. Wisdom is eternal (v. 23)
  3. Wisdom witnessed creation and was an agent in creation (vv. 27 & 30)

These clues all align with what Colossians 1:16-17 says of Christ. Christ calls – are we listening?

2. Those Addressed by Wisdom

Wisdom calls to all mankind (v. 4). The call of Wisdom is addressed to us. It is a call from Christ to men, women and children – all mankind. If you look at where Wisdom calls then you can see even more of the width of Christ’s call. We see it is in the high places, along the pathways and at the gates to the city. Christ calls in the high and lofty places but also the common places. This call is for us and for us in all our areas of living, work and travel. This address from Christ is meant to meet us wherever we are – it is the most relevant address that we could hear. Christ is calling to us, wherever we are. It is tremendous condescension by him and we should take notice and listen to what he offers.

3. The Offer of Wisdom

Wisdom offers itself. Christ offers himself. It’s not just an offer of intelligence, but life (v. 35). He is the one who has walked the way of righteousness (v. 20) and so he can offer life to us. This is the work he was appointed to do and he delights in humanity and saving humanity (vv. 23, 31). Those receiving Christ receive life. If we seek him then we will find him as (v. 17) assures. Failure to take up this offer will do harm to us (v. 36). Those rejecting Christ’s offer are rejecting life and holding to their own wisdom which is foolishness. They cling to their sin instead of Christ.

If you are a believer then be encouraged, you have this life that is offered and favour from the Lord. The world may mock Christianity but taking up the offer of Christ is the wisest thing you can do. Keep enjoying that life offered, keep following that same wisdom and be like those who diligently wait upon Wisdom in (vv. 33-34). Hearing and obeying the words and example of Christ will have a sanctifying and encouraging effect upon us and will prepare us more for that final day.

Matthew Magee

Luke 2:41-52 In His Father’s house

The first 30 years of Jesus’ life are passed over almost in silence by the Gospels.  We would of course love to know more about those years, especially his family life.  Some were tempted in earlier times to fill in this gap with imagination and invention in various ‘apocryphal’ gospels.  In the NT only one event is recorded and so it must be particularly important.  We turn now to consider Luke 2:41-52 In His Father’s house

1. A godly family

We have here a precious glimpse of Jesus’ early family life.  ‘Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover’ (v41) – these are people of faith, like the psalmist in Psalm 122, a pilgrim psalm for those going up for such occasions.  These are people who delight in the presence of God and the worship he prescribes.  It was in such a family that the Messiah was placed, with the godly example of his parents.  He was raised in a context of living faith.  It is significant that this is the Feast of the Passover (instituted by God in Exodus 12-13), celebrating the deliverance of his people by the shedding of the blood of the lamb, and now the fulfilment of Passover has come, with ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29) present in the temple.

2. A unique Son

On the return journey to Nazareth – disaster – they discover Jesus is not with them.  When 3 days have passed, they find him ‘in the temple courts’ (v46).  Note regarding Jesus:

            (i). He is a learner.  ‘sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions’ (v46).  We see the growing boy is a learner – there is no suggestion he is disputing with the teachers.  His human mind needs to be nurtured and educated – only his divine mind knows all things.  It is evident that there is something different about him – ‘amazed at his understanding and his answers’ (v47), but not such that any thought of him as more than a 12-year-old child of striking ability.

            (ii). He is the Son.  Mary, relieved and stressed, rebukes him (v48).  Jesus’ response (v49) indicates he expected them to know where to find him.  The crucial statement is in v49b ‘Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house? (less likely – ‘about my Father’s business’).  Joseph fills the role of father, but Jesus has another, greater ‘Father’.  Even at this early stage in his life Jesus has a profound awareness of:

            a relationship that he bears to God.  We glimpse his unique relationship to the Father.

            a task that he is to perform.  He has a mission to fulfil – the Father’s plan (John 4:34).

3. An abundant blessing

We have a brief glimpse of family life at home in v51-52.  The focus is on Jesus – both parents fade from the record, Joseph probably dying soon and Mary mentioned again by Luke only in 8:19-21.  His brothers did not believe until after the resurrection.  We have a significant description of Jesus’ human development – he ‘grew in wisdom and stature’ – true humanity evident.  Also ‘in favour with God and man’ – like Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26) and see also Proverbs 3:4.  The Messiah is grace filled for the work he has been sent to do.

Luke 2:21-40 The Messiah has come

The Lord does not work according to the standards of the world.  We might expect that the long-expected Messiah would be found in a palace (as the Magi did – Matthew 2), mixing with the rich and powerful, but in fact he was born in humble circumstances.  That is how God works.  We turn now to consider Luke 2:21-40 The Messiah has come

1. The presentation

2 events are described in v21-24.  The circumcision on the 8th day was a sign of God’s covenant with his people.  The name ‘Jesus’ is full of meaning – ‘he will save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21).  The presentation in the Temple was the time of the mother’s purification.  The offering (v24) was for the less well-off, the Messiah’s lowly birth being part of his humiliation (see Philippians 2:8).  Incarnation involves the Son’s self-humbling.  Note:

            (i). He fulfils prophecy.  See e.g. Malachi 3:1 ‘Suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple’.  Throughout his life Jesus fulfilled the sovereign plan of God.

            (ii). He fulfils the Law.  Both events described here are prescribed by the Law.  Circumcision is the sign of the covenant (Genesis 17) and presentation honours God’s claim to every firstborn male (Exodus 13:23).  Jesus was ‘born under law’ (Galatians 4:4) and kept God’s law perfectly on behalf of his people, as our representative (Hebrews 2:17).

2. The prophet

Simeon (v25) is a man of deep faith – ‘waiting for the consolation of Israel’, waiting for the Messiah.  He speaks prophetically (v27 ‘Moved by the Spirit’), recognizing the child as ‘the Lord’s Christ’ (v26).  In language steeped in the Old Testament Simeon ‘praised God’ (v28) – it is his mighty work of salvation, with significance for ‘all people’ (v31).  Both the Gentiles (as in Isaiah 42:6) and Israel are included.  His work involves judgment (‘the falling’, v34) but chiefly salvation (‘the rising of many’).  It will be at a cost, and Mary herself will know ‘a sword’, but only the Messiah’s suffering will be redemptive.

3. The prophetess

Anna is a ‘prophetess’ (v36) – a channel of God’s word.  She had known sorrow – ‘a widow until she was 84’, but this is a day of good news – ‘she spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem’ (v38).  God’s great work of redemption has taken a major step forward, in fulfilment of OT prophecies about the restoration of Jerusalem (e.g. Jeremiah 33).  There were other believing people to share her joy and praise (v38).

4. The progress

With the requirements of the Law fulfilled, the family ‘returned to Galilee (v39).  At this stage the visit of the magi and the flight to Egypt must have taken place (Matthew 2).  The statement of v40 is significant – ‘the child grew and became strong’ – he fully shared our human nature.  The Father’s blessing ensures he is equipped for his redeeming work – ‘he was filled with wisdom and the grace (or ‘favour’ ESV) of God was upon him’.