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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Luke 2

Verses 1-7

  1. THE BETHLEHEM MIRACLE! (Lk.1:1-7)
    1. A LARGE GOD FOR LITTLE PEOPLE! (1-5)
    2. Getting registered – Not like most baby showers where you register at Robinsons May, or Target.
      1. This registration was God ordained beforehand, that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem.
        1. For this to happen, the ruler of the known world Caesar Augustus must be moved to require all families to be enrolled each in his own town.
      2. Now Read vs.1-5.
      3. Q: Have you ever felt insignificant in a world of over 6 bill people.
        1. Yet there is God, wielding an empire, for a lowly carpenter, a little pregnant teenager, & for you & I.
    3. Jesus’ Birth affected Caesar’s politics(1-3); [& tomorrow we’ll see it affected] the ministry of angels(8-15); the activities of common men(15-20).
      1. Angels sang about Him, & He’s still the theme of the greatest music
      2. Luke wrote about Him, & He is still the subject of the greatest literature.
      3. Shepherd’s hastened to behold Him & he is still at the center of the greatest art.
      4. Teachers listened to Him & marveled, & He is still the focal point for all truth & wisdom. (Warren Wiersbe; With the Word; pg.670.)
    4. Augustus Caesar ruled as Emperor over most the civilized world.
      1. Under his reign the world enjoyed a period of peace.
      2. A baby is born in His kingdom, who would offer the kind of peace that lay beyond the power of the most powerful man on earth.
    5. God moves in the affairs of nations to accomplish His purposes.
      1. The Caesars appeared to be in control of human destiny!
        1. But God was at work through all these events.
        2. God controls all human affairs!
    6. INCONVENIENCE! (5)
    7. A very pregnant teen, on a 80 mile donkey back ride! L
    8. It seems that those closest to the Lord, are the most inconvenienced!
      1. Jesus is many things…but He isn’t “convenient”!
      2. Mary could have asked God…
      3. Q: Wasn’t dealing with a virgin birth enough to have to deal with?
      4. Q: Does the baby really need to be born in Bethlehem?
      5. Q: Couldn’t Gabriel have gone to Hotel.com & secured a hotel?
    9. Our culture has conditioned us to expect convenience. (Bob Coy Devotional; pg.21.)
      1. We believe it is an entitlement that we all deserve!
        1. We see anything that poses an inconvenience to our lives as a nasty negative!
      2. Our agendas are sealed, but God’s agenda will often conflict w/ours
        1. And when it does we have a choice to make:
          1. [1] Get mad at being inconvenienced.
          2. [2] Or, surrender our expectations to God, & ask Him to give us His agenda for our lives!
        2. When we choose God’s choice, we find the JOY of obedience in the midst of being inconvenienced.
      3. Q: Has the Lord inconvenienced you lately?
      4. Q: How did you respond? – How will you respond in the future?
      5. Q: What steps can you take to remain joyful when you’re inconvenienced this Christmas/New Year season?
      6. Speaking of inconvenience – I was touched by a sermon given by Martin Niemoller. It was in 1944 while he was in Germany’s 1st Concentration camp in “Dachau”. [we visited the very room he stayed]
        1. It was a Sermon he wrote on Christmas Eve 1944. (Smith; Great Sermons on the Birth, Death, & Resurrection of Jesus Christ;pg.242)
        2. He opened with “When Christmas must be celebrated in captivity it is naturally a rather dismal affair.”
        3. Yet, he is able to draw comfort, hope & joy from the wonderful Christmas story!
    10. 2 SIGNS! (6,7)
      1. We’ll see that the resounding revelation of Christmas is that God is not unapproachable!
      2. Two matters of significance for this child & His identification!
        1. Lk.2:12 “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger”
        2. That is all…& what does that tell us? [2 Things]
    11. [1st] Human Helplessness!
    12. Wrapped in swaddling cloths
      1. Swaddling = to wrap in strips - Intended to strengthen the back & bones & provided proper growth. (LKGNT)
      2. Our 1st sign is the picture of a child no less feeble & helpless than any other baby born into this world.
        1. [Jesus’ royal privilege stopped at conception!]
      3. His mother must nourish & care for him or He die from hunger.
      4. He must be wrapped in strips of cloth lest He freeze to death.
        1. Both at the beginning & end of His life on earth, it could be said of Him, “He saved others; himself he could not save.”
    13. [2nd] Earthly Homelessness!
      1. Lying in a manger The Saviors Cradle.
        1. A trough or box, for feeding cattle. [usually hewn of stone]
        2. Here is our 2nd sign, the homelessness of this babe.
        3. This seemed to be a sign for the rest of his life, “The foxes have holes, & the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has no where to lay His head.”
          1. Interesting – Jesus’ family didn’t own either the place he was born, nor the place he was buried!
    14. Barns are normally not for babies – at least not human babies! (Bob Coy Devotional; pg.8.)
      1. No mother or father would want to subject a tiny infant, whose immune system is still very venerable, to the bacteria of a barn.
      2. Had he been born in our time he would have the most advanced technology to assure a painless, perfect delivery.
        1. An epidural so it would be tclose to painless.
        2. A sterile room so it would be close to germless.
    15. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Ken Gire writes, “Where you would have expected angels, there were only flies. Where you would have expected heads of state, there were only donkeys, a few haltered cows, a nervous ball of sheep, a tethered camel, & a furtive scurry of curious mice.Except for Joseph, there was no one to share Mary’s pain. Or her joy. Yes, there were angels announcing the Savior’s arrival – but only to a band of blue-collar shepherds. And yes, a magnificent star shone in the sky to mark his birthplace – but only 3 foreigners bothered to look up & follow it.”Thus, in the little town of Bethlehem…that one silent night…the royal birth of God’s Son tiptoed quietly by…as the world slept!” (Intimate Moments w/the Savior; Ken Gire; Pg.5,6.)
    16. Q: What do these 2 signs teach us?
      1. God, the eternally wealthy & mighty God, enters into the most extreme poverty imaginable.
      2. [1] No man is so weak & helpless that God does not come to him in Jesus Christ, right in the midst of human need.
      3. [2] And, no man is so forsaken & homeless in this world that God does not seek him, in the midst of our human distress.
    17. NO ROOM! (7)
    18. No room for them in the (Holiday)Inn – A lodging-house poor enough at best, but there was not even room in this public place because of the crowds for the census. (Robertson, A. (1997). Word Pictures in the New Testament. Vol.V c1932, Vol.VI c1933 by Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. (Lk 2:7). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.)
      1. There usually was an inner court, a series of arches, an open gallery round the four sides.
      2. On one side of the square outside the wall, would be stables for the donkeys & camels, & other animals.
    19. No room” seems to be a touching prediction of the reception of Jesus
      1. There was no room for Jesus: in the Inn; in Bethlehem; later in Nazareth; in the homes of those he served(Jn.7:53); he often slept under the stars(Mnt. Of Olives); & ultimately there was no room for Him in the world! (so they raised him above earth, on a crude cross)
    20. God could have seen to it the angel Gabriel had a room set aside at the Inn. Jesus could have been born into a wealthy family. And at the cross He could have had him come down from the cross & saved himself!
      1. But the question isn’t what God could have done, but what He willed to do!
      2. It was His will that, “though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”
        1. The “No Vacancy” signs over the motels in Bethlehem, were for your sake! (John Piper; 7 Christmas Meditations; A Big God for Little People.)
    21. Q: Have you room for Christ?
      1. ​​​​​​​“But, I’m not worthy that he should come stay with me”! - That’s not the question! - Have you room?
      2. “But, the room I have in my heart is so unclean & dirty”! – Wasn’t the stable? - Have you room?
      3. “But, my heart is stone cold”! – So was his 1st resting place in the manger! - Have you room?
      4. “But, I feel my heart has been a den of beasts”! – Wasn’t the manger where animals fed? - Have you room?
      5. If you have room for Christ, He will come & be your guest!
      6. Don’t say, “I hope I will have room in the future.”The time is come when He shall be born in your heart!
        1. Mary couldn’t wait months, or years.
      7. If you have room for Him, then let Him be born in your soul today!
        1. He waits longingly to take up residence in your hearts-manger, this evening! [In your Heart’s sp. feeding trough!]
    22. The Christ of glory cradled in a manger is God’s object-lesson to every sinner that Christ will come to him if he will make room for Him!
    23. “God Himself has built a bridge, from Himself, to us!” – His name is Immanuel(God with us)!
      1. Christ, the “God with us” is also the “God for us”!
      2. And we can joyfully cry out “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
      3. If you have room for Him, let Him be born in your soul today!
      4. Invitation!
    24. Wrap up:
      1. ​​​​​​​[1] He is a Large God for Little people! (like Mary & Joe, & you & I)
      2. [2] Find the JOY of obedience n the midst of being inconvenienced!
      3. [3] 2 Signs – Human Helplessness & Earthly Homelessness:
        1. No man is so weak & helpless that God does not come to him in Jesus Christ, right in the midst of human need.
        2. And, no man is so forsaken & homeless in this world that God does not seek him, in the midst of our human distress.
      4. [4] No Room – May our hearts sign read, “More Room” instead of No Room!

Verses 8-20

  1. Intro:
    1. It’s been an interesting Christmas season this year in our world.
      1. With upside down Christmas trees; A Nativity w/o the Holy Family; Stores which won’t let employees say, “Merry Christmas”.
      2. To avoid offending anybody, the school dropped religion altogether and started singing about the weather. At my son’s school, they now hold the winter program in February and sing increasingly non-memorable songs such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “Suzy Snowflake,” all of which is pretty funny because we live in Miami. A visitor from another planet would assume that the children belonged to the Church of Meteorology.
      3. But I always ask, “Why are we surprised when darkness is dark?”
    2. I remember a teacher when I was small telling us to “put on your thinking caps”!
      1. This morning can we put on our “wonder & mystery caps”?
      2. Q: Has the Christmas story become “same ol, same ol” to your ears?
      3. Allow yourself to be enraptured again in holy awe & wonder!
    3. Prayer: Hear the glad tidings of the Christmas message.
      1. And Hear it clearly. Feel it sensitively. And Ponder it deeply.
    4. Scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer said, “The best way to send an idea is to wrap it up in a person!”
      1. And so we have “The Christmas Gospel!
    5. So we have Royalty clothed in rags; Majesty emerging in the midst of the mundane; Eternity stepping into time;And the most prominent event of all human history being noticed by no one but…a handful of outcasts.
    6. Q: Who do you think were…
      1. The 1st Hearers of the Christmas Gospel!
      2. The 1st Believers of the Christmas Gospel!
      3. The 1st Preachers of the Christmas Gospel!
      4. The Shepherds!!!
  2. HEAVEN TOUCHES EARTH! (8-20)
    1. THE 1ST HEARERS OF THE CHRISTMAS GOSPEL! (8-14)
    2. The Shepherds Reputation! (8)
      1. Bible Almanac “Shepherds were distrusted in Jesus’ day, as being a wild bunch.”
      2. James Boice “This rural nomadic folk were a despised class in the 1st cent. Also, they were considered unreliable & therefore were not even allowed to give testimony in the law courts.”
      3. The Egyptians “Every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.” (Gen.46:34) [Joseph wouldn’t even eat w/his brothers]
      4. Others described them as, “a meditative class of men, accustomed to the sweet silence of nature, apart from the bustle & stir of cities, invited to quiet communion w/their own hearts.” (Pulpit Commentary)
    3. Shepherds were the 1st profession mentioned in the bible, “Abel was a keeper of sheep.” (Gen.4:2)
      1. Interesting this 1st shepherd was the 1st blood sacrifice!
    4. Christ, later called the Good Shepherd, who leaves the 99 to find the 1
      1. Here, we have these shepherds leaving their sheep to locate this One Lamb! (i.e. of God)
      2. Q: Is there any other profession that would be more excited about a Lamb being born?
    5. And so, the 1st Tidings of Great Joy was brought to “Shaggy Shepherds!
    6. The Shepherds Reverence! (9)
      1. It was a momentary fear!
      2. They were gravely aware of the great gulf between God & man.
    7. Signs indicate divine intervention into history.
      1. But none is more dramatic than the angels’ announcement to the shepherds of Jesus’ birth.
    8. The Shepherds Real Good News! (10-12)
    9. (10) Long before PBS(Public Broadcasting Services) we have the 1st Public announcement of the good news of Jesus’ birth.
      1. And it’s keynote? - JOY!
    10. To ALL people – even shepherds!!!
      1. There’s good news for all of us this morning!
    11. (11) Triple Titles:
      1. Savior – he will save people from their sins.
      2. Christ – the anointed 1 to rule as king (fulfilling God’s promise to David).
      3. Lord – speaks of the divine nature of the One who was born.
        1. “I think Savior is the brightest jewel in the crown, of our Christmas message!”
      4. So, He is our Healing One, our Forgiving One, our Saving One!
    12. (12) You will find a babe – Not, “wait till you meet Mary or Joseph, or see the cute little barn animals.”
      1. The focus is on the babe…& Him only!
      2. Martin Luther - The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.
        1. He called the Incarnation - “en-flesh-ment”
    13. God is willing to make any accommodations to have fellowship with us. Like, becoming human.
      1. Illustration: A hospital patient was in an accident and is left with the sense of smell only. Her mother wanted to communicate her presence, so used a perfume the girl would remember as her mom’s. Now the perfume is not the mother’s essential nature, but is an extension of her real self to communicate on the girl’s level.
        1. God also is not essentially a body, but he became human. He extended Himself to communicate on our level so we could respond.
    14. The Shepherds Revelation of Peace! (13,14)
    15. (13) And the sky became their church!
      1. This must have been just spectacular!
      2. Q: How many do you picture? Saying it or Singing it? What did they look like? What did it sound like? Was it a million part harmony? How many angels could fit on the tip of a pin? (just kidding)
      3. This just had to have been “stunning, impressive, extravagant, brilliant, & dramatic.”
    16. (14) Here we have the Latin Gloria in excelsis Deo (Glory in the Highest, God)
      1. Glory – The Shekinah, absent for years!
    17. On earth Peace…for whom?
      1. Christmas does not bring peace to all.
      2. (NIV) “on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests”.
      3. * The key that unlocks the treasure chest of God’s peace is “faith in the promises of God.”
        1. Rom.15:13 (ESV) “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (read again!)
    18. THE 1ST BELIEVERS OF THE CHRISTMAS GOSPEL! (15,16)
    19. The Shepherds Receive! (15,16)
    20. Let us now go! – how simple a faith!
      1. Phillips Brooks notes, The Angels leave, & the Shepherds seem to just stand there looking at each other. (Phillips Brooks; wrote “Oh Little Town of Beth.” 3 yrs after visiting it in 1864.)
      2. They don’t sing a song like Mary. They don’t need a star. They don’t go & try to find Herod. They don’t go shopping for gifts. They just say to each other “let us now go”!
      3. They do go, & they do find – Finding Jesus is that easy! J
    21. (16) They came with haste & found them –
      1. Isn’t it funny that the wise men were directed by God, but then got lost, & had to stop & ask for directions in Jerusalem (Mt.2:1,2)
      2. But, the Shepherds never lost their way!!!
        1. It often happens while shepherds find Christ, wise men often miss him! (Adapted from Spurgeon At His Best #1810.)
      3. So, Faith led their steps to Bethlehem, to the stable, to the manger!
    22. THE 1ST PREACHERS OF THE CHRISTMAS GOSPEL! (17-20)
    23. The Shepherds Recounted! (17,18)
    24. (17,18) The Shepherds weren’t only the 1st to hear, but the 1st to tell!
      1. I guess they were told to…“Go, tell it on the mountain - over the hills & well, everywhere! – Go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is Born!”
      2. Acts 4:20 “we cannot but speak the things which we have seen & heard”
    25. (19) We learn a lot from what Mary did on the 1st Christmas:
      1. She engaged her Memory – she, kept all these things.
      2. She engaged her Intellect – she, pondered them.
      3. She engaged her Affections – she, pondered them in her heart.
      4. And we would do well in doing the same this Christmas!
    26. The Shepherds Rejoiced! (20)
    27. Reverent Worship! – Glorifying & Praising (They weren’t schooled in this!)
    28. (20) for all they heard & seen
      1. A little girl once remarked, “some people couldn’t hear God’s inside whisper, & so He sent Jesus to tell them out loud!”
      2. Well, these guys sure heard it & even saw it!
    29. The Shepherds Returned! (20)
    30. They returned to daily life – The glory of the common place!
      1. Q: What was it like going to back to work after that?
      2. Q: I wonder if any shepherds quit the week before, because they were bored with their career?
      3. Q: Did they learn that heaven is always near the dutiful?
      4. Q: What was it like going to back to work? (But don’t miss it, that’s where God met them…at work! “keeping watch over their flock at night!”
      5. Poem: He was a humble workman, w/the tools w/which he wrought, And he built a common stable, or so it was he thought!
        And he fashioned there a manger, Where the cattle could be fed, Never thinking that the Savior, Would pillow there His head.
        He had only built a stable, With a manger in the stall,Yet it cradled there the Christ-child, Who is King & Lord of all!
        So although our task be humble, Let us work each day w/care; For we may not know God’s purpose, Or why He places us there. For the manger that formed the cradle, Of our Lord & Savior here, was built by a humble workman, in Bethlehem of Judea(r)(Henry B Knox)
      6. Read – The Work of Christmas. [Topic: Christ; Subtopic: Incarnation of Index: 720]
    31. Q: Are we like the shepherds, who Heard, Believed, & Preached the Christmas Gospel? [Or, which stage are you in?]
    32. In December 1903, after many attempts, the Wright brothers were successful in getting their “flying machine” off the ground. Thrilled, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine: “We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas.” Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, “How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas!” He totally missed the big news—man had flown! Don’t miss the Big News! (Our Daily Bread, 12–23-91)

Verses 21-35

  1. Intro:
    1. Randy Harvey – Ordination.
    2. Title: Child of Hope!
      1. The time was perfect for the coming of Messiah!
      2. “Religion was powerless; the heathen systems failed; Judaism had become formal & lacking spiritually; Rome bound the civilized world together w/its fine roads; Greek was the one main language of cultured & intellectual life; the Jews were dispersed over many lands carrying their national hope of a deliverer!” (Griffith Thomas)
      3. This HOPE was shared by this morning’s guest…Mr. Simeon!
        1. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom.15:13
      4. Pray!
  2. PRESENTATION & BABY DEDICATION! (21-24)
    1. The Temple was central in Israel’s worship & hopes. (Shepherd’s Notes; pg.11)
    2. 3 Rites/Ceremonies:
    3. [1] Circumcision (21) – as prescribed in Gen.17:9-14
      1. Circumcision was usually done in the parents’ home, and was also the occasion when the child was officially named.
      2. This rite was an external sign indicating that a covenant relationship had been established between the individual & the Lord, w/all the privileges & responsibilities entailed by such relationship.
      3. The operation was also symbolized the “spiritual surgery” that God wants to perform on the human heart.
        1. Deut.30:6 "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants” (Also Deut.10:16)
    4. [2] Purification (22a) - as prescribed in Lev.12:22-24
      1. Baby Jesus is 40 days old! (7+33 days).
      2. Read – Lev.12:1-8.
        1. Note Mary’s “sin” offering.
      3. (Lightfoot) “This virgin presented her babe unto the Lord in the east gate of the court called Nicanor’s gate, where she would be sprinkled by the priest w/the blood of her sacrifice.”
      4. They also would have to pay a redemption fee (5 shekels) Num.3:44,45.
      5. (23) Redemption of the 1st born - Ex.13:2,12-15
        1. The Redeemer is Redeemed!
    5. [3] Presentation (22b-24) - as prescribed in Ex.13:2, 12-15.
      1. What a privilege to present our kids before the Lord.
        1. Baby Dedications: Dedicate = set apart!
    6. (24b) 2 Turtledoves/pigeons –
      1. Even Mary & Joseph had to deal with poverty at Christmas!
        1. Seneca said, “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor.” (4 bc - 65 ad).
      2. This reveals to us that Jesus was born into a home of modest means…Yet, a home of deep loyalty to the religion of the OT.
      3. 5x’s Luke mentions that Mary/Joseph acted according to the Law. (Lk.2:22,23,24,27,39.)
  3. SIMEON SEES SALVATION! (25-35)
    1. (25) Simeon = one who hears & obeys.
      1. Just – Attitude toward God [Past]
      2. Devout – Attitude toward man [Present]
      3. Waiting - Attitude toward Hope [Future]
    2. Q: So why this man? (3 reasons)
      1. 3 x’s the passage refers to the Spirit’s influence on Simeon.
      2. [1] The H.S. was Upon him (25)
      3. [2] The H.S. Revealed things to him (26)
      4. [3] The H.S. Led him (he came by the Spirit) (27)
      5. Q: Is the H.S. “upon” you? [en, on, epi]
        1. Jn.14:17 "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
        2. Acts 1:8 “"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;” (i.e. Pent.)
      6. The Definition: “The Baptism w/the H.S. is the Spirit of God coming upon the believer, imparting power to him, & gifts not naturally his own but which qualify him for service to which God has called him.”
        1. The phrase is found in all 4 gospels, & twice in Acts.
      7. I don’t know what all went on at Pentecost?…We read of a terrific wind filling the room, fire burning upon each of their heads, & the Spirit filled & spoke through this group in foreign tongues. But I do know from this point these disciples were never the same. They took to the world like a Mighty Rushing Wind, & burned with an Unquenchable Holy Fire!
      8. “They were enthusiastic to the point of complete abandon.” Tozer
      9. Q: Who is involved in the baptism with the H.S.?
      10. The Father Promises!
        1. ​​​​​​​Acts 1:4 “He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father,”
      11. The Son Baptizes!
        1. ​​​​​​​Mt.3:11 "I(John Bap.) indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He(Jesus) who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
      12. The H.S. Comes Upon!
        1. ​​​​​​​Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;”
      13. Don’t be surprised…If they had problems w/it in the very 1st century, surely it would be abused & misused in the 20th.
        1. But don’t let abuse & misuse rob its “Holy & Intended use”!
      14. “It is one thing to be born of the Spirit & another to be baptized w/the Spirit.” (Chuck Smith; Living Water pg.259)
      15. Don’t try to pattern God, Just receive the gift & experience His dynamic power in your life.
        1. It’s like trying to figure out how God exactly saves people, or heals people? (He uses all different methods)
      16. Ask! Lk.11:13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father (obviously believers) give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
      17. Pastors need this power! Our missionaries, evangelists, S.S. teachers, our business men/women, our mom’s working at home, our teens, our singles, elderly, new believers.
        1. It is available to ALL Believers at any time!
    3. Simeon was Led by the Spirit of God; Taught by the Word of God; Obedient to the Will of God; & Privileged to see the Salvation of God
    4. Consolation – paraklesis/comfort.
      1. Prob. From Is.49:13 “Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.”
    5. (27) Simeon took prophecy seriously…Do we?
      1. So he came by the Spirit into the temple –
        1. If both Pastor & Parishioner entered the house of God this same way…the blessings would flow!
    6. (28) It was the custom in Jerusalem to bring a small child to a rabbi that he might bless the child & pray for it. (LKGNT; pg.144)
    7. He took Him up in his arms – These are arms of faith stretched out.
      1. “Here’s Jesus resting in the arms of Simeon, and Simeon resting in Jesus Salvation!”
      2. George Macdonald in his poem said, “Where did You come from baby dear? Out of everywhere into the here.”
      3. Wesley said, “Here we have God contracted into a span!”
    8. (29) This section is called Simeon’s “Nunc Dimittis” or “now dismiss”.
      1. I’m ready to be called home now!”
      2. Q: What do you want to have happen so that you could say at the end of your life, “Lord, now dismiss your servant in peace” ?
      3. Hopefully after we see salvation we are then ready to fly!
        1. “You’re not ready to live, till you’re ready to die!”
      4. Q: Can we also die in peace? – “Those who welcome Christ may also welcome death when it comes!”
        1. Before I was saved, as a kid I was afraid of dieing!
        2. In 1971 Don McLean had his “one-hit wonder” song…Bye, bye miss American Pie - Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry - And good ol' boys were drinking whisky and rye? - Singing this will be the day that I die - this will be the day that I die. (I was afraid to sing that part!)
        3. I couldn’t pray the famous prayer, “if I die before I wake!” – I had a fear of doing just that!!!
        4. Q: Are you spiritually ready to depart/die in peace?
      5. This is a Salvation Song a Missionary Hymn!
    9. Depart = “to release a prisoner; to untie a ship & set sail; to take down a tent; to untie a beast of burden.”
      1. It frees believers from the burdens of this life & leads us into the blessings of the next!
      2. Q: Are you tied to this place? If so by what?
      3. Q: Like a Hot Air Ballooner, can you cut another cord loose today?
    10. (30) My eyes have seen…the glory of the Lord!(Battle Hymn of the republic)
    11. Salvation – not soteer(savior); not soteria(salvation); but soterion (speaking of “one fitted to save”)
      1. Jesus is the means of deliverance which God is giving to the world!
        1. Saviors are only for sinners!
      2. Mt.9:13 “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
        1. Q: Have your eyes seen Salvation?
    12. (31,32) – You have Prepared – “it is not a human accomplishment, but a Divine gift!”
    13. All peoples, Gentiles, Jews – Gentiles brought into this prophecy!
      1. Who may have admission to the kingdom: “Samaritans; Pagans; Jews; publicans; sinners; outcasts; respectable people; poor; rich; women; men; children”
    14. Light – To dispel darkness, to show them their way back to God!
      1. Jn.12:46 “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”
    15. (34,35) When Jesus is preached, He always produces either “a rising or a falling” in every one of His hearers.
      1. He is history’s Dividing Ridge!
      2. The whole world is affected in one way or another by Mary’s Son.
      3. Never does one hear the gospel & not fall or rise under the hearing of it! [Neutrality is forever impossible!]
        1. Rise unbelievers from your sins dark depths; Rise believers above this World, to the next!
      4. The same 2 options remain even today – Rise or Fall!
    16. Note both His mission & His suffering.
    17. Already, the shadow of the cross is falling across Jesus’ life.
      1. Fulfillment will come, mixed w/pain & suffering.
    18. (35) Sword – a large wide sword. Signifying extreme anguish. (LKGNT; pg.144)
      1. Mary did feel “the sword” in her heart repeatedly as she watched her son during His ministry, & then stood at the cross where He died.
    19. Q: Do we await Christ’s 2nd advent with as much excitement & hope as did Simeon his 1st?
      1. Lessons from Mr. Simeon:
      2. Be careful of your attitude toward God! (Just)
      3. Be watchful of your attitude toward man! (devout)
      4. Invite the Holy Spirit to come upon you as Simeon did!
      5. Be listening for the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself to you!
      6. Be led by the Holy Spirit as Simeon was!
      7. Reach your arms out for Jesus!
      8. Bless God!
      9. Prepare to meet your Maker!...Don’t let it take you unawares!
      10. Recognize God is for ALL peoples!
      11. Be watching & waiting for Messiah’s Next Coming!

Verses 36-52

  1. Intro:
    1. “Prayer goes by faith into the great orchard of God’s exceeding great and precious promises, and with hand and heart picks the ripest and richest fruit.” E. M. Bounds [Pray]
    2. Q: What do I do if I’m left to live alone as a widow?
    3. Q: How do I handle the situation if I lost my child?
    4. Q: Why isn’t anything said about Jesus’ childhood years? [There is!]
      1. The silence is broken only by this passage in Luke’s account.
      2. Luke provides a kind of bridge between events connected w/His birth & the account of His adult ministry.
  2. TEMPLE DWELLER! (36-38)
    1. ANA,TEMPLE DWELLER! (36-38)
    2. (36) A widow after 7 years of married life. Now, 84 yrs old.
      1. What a very long widowhood!
        1. In her loss of human fellowship she waited much on God!
        2. The Lord will bring healing to the wounded soul; companionship to the lonely hour; & send you forth with blessings.
      2. Old age has its offerings just as youth & prime has theirs!
    3. (37,38) A Temple Devotee!
      1. She served; fasted; prayed; gave thanks; spoke of Him!
      2. Pray! – Too many of our prayers are like playing “ding-dong-ditch” on God’s door!
    4. Listen to a prayer by Robert E. Lee – “Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make in this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray—to really pray. Let there be prayer at sunup, at noonday, at sundown, at midnight—all through the day. Let us all pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes. Let us pray for our churches. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word ‘concern’ out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice.”
    5. (38) Holy Expectation! – all those who looked for the redemption.
  3. JESUS, THE BOY! (39-52)
    1. Now, we’ve tracked Jesus’ life from pre-natal stories to toddler hood. Now we trace Jesus’ life: from Babyhood to Boyhood; from Boyhood to Bar mitzvah; from Bar mitzvah to Manhood.
      1. It is only Luke that gives us a brief, but adequate & valuable record of Jesus, from babyhood to manhood.
    2. FROM BABYHOOD TO BOYHOOD! (39,40)
    3. (39) Nazareth – a village in Galilee, quiet, insignificant, rural, & also notorious for rudeness & wickedness.
      1. Nazareth was not an easy place for a lad to grow up.
      2. Q: Plants do better as house plants, or in a greenhouse?
        1. They may grow faster, but aren’t necessarily more healthy.
      3. It’s the same with children. Germs help build up their immune system. Siblings help them learn how to get along & share.
      4. Ps.128:3 “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table.”
      5. So, God places Jesus, not in a perfect palace, but in an average working class families home. Not in a city like “Moorestown, NJ” (voted #1 city in U.S. for 2005) but in Nazareth. Not in Tel Aviv’s new Hilton Suite that goes for $3000 a night, but in a humble home in Nazareth.
        1. It was a godly home for they had performed all things according to the Law! – He would have attended village school connected w/synagogue. (Outlines in Luke; Griffith Thomas; pg.62) [He could read 4:16; & write Jn.8:6]
      6. Q: Are you ok with obscurity, anonymity, secrecy? Jesus was!
        1. In all Nature there are great results from secret process!
          1. [e.g. precious stones; coal/diamonds; seeds]
        2. Q: Did God place you for a time in obscurity? [Dal Rae]
          1. I think it is terrible what the church does when a celebrity comes to know Christ! [immediately flung into the spotlight] – [when a plant finally breaks the surface, do we yank it out of the ground to display it]
        3. Jesus knew seclusion, confinement, routine, the narrow life!
    4. (40) The story of His life?...He grew!
      1. Learning to walk, Learning to pick up things & put things down!
      2. As a baby He had baby knowledge; as a toddler, toddler knowledge; etc.- He knew more at age 30 when he started His ministry then he did at 12.
        1. Never imperfect at any stage, but like a plant, “from shoot to bud to flower to fruit,...perfect at each stage! - Jesus was perfect as babe, boy, youth, & man!” (Ibid; pg.64)
      3. He didn’t come “already full of wisdom”, but instead He was “becoming full of wisdom”(lit.)
        1. Often, Apocryphal literature describes Him full of wisdom from babyhood up.
      4. But in one place of the Apocrypha (Ecclesiasticus, aka Sirach 39:13) there is a description of an ideal child, “Hearken unto me, ye holy children, and bud forth as a rose growing by the brook of the field: 14 And give ye a sweet savour as frankincense, and flourish as a lily, send forth a smell, and sing a song of praise, bless the Lord in all his works.” (The Apocrypha : King James Version. 1995 (Sir 39:13). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)
        1. Isaiah said, “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground.” (53:2) [also Is.35:1,2]
    5. FROM BOYHOOD TO BARMITSVAH! (41-50)
    6. (41) Family Pilgrimages!
      1. 3 times yearly required – Deut.16:16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles.”
      2. Three festivals, called pilgrimage festivals, required the participation of Israelite males at the sanctuary:
        1. (1) The Passover & Feast of Unleavened Bread.
        2. (2) The Feast of Weeks (beg. of the wheat harvest).
        3. (3) The Feast of Booths (when the harvest & produce were gathered in). [3 different seasons]
        4. The whole family could go, but the males were required.
      3. It was on such a pilgrimage that Hannah prayed for a baby boy. (1 Sam.1:3)
      4. The most famous pilgrimage was when Joseph, Mary, & Jesus did their family pilgrimage.
        1. We can only imagine how thrilling this trip was to this “7th grader”, this “Jr. Higher”, this “12 year old”…Jesus! 3.6.4.1.1.He was going to “His Fathers house”!
        2. Ps.27:4 “One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire inHis temple.”
      5. On such pilgrimages. Kinsfolk’s & acquaintances travel together in large groups, & the young people of the party are considered to be perfectly safe as long as they are with this group.
    7. (43) The Boy – no longer “the child” (40).
      1. This is almost like His own Bar mitzvah! – Whether he already passed through the ceremony in the synagogue at Nazareth, or maybe here, is precipitating His own?
        1. Bar(son) mitzvah(commandment) = i.e. son of the Law.
          1. The Jewish “coming of age”!
        2. When he went into the Temple His right of entry was that He went as a Son of the Law!
        3. Until that time a boy’s father & mother were responsible for him religiously.
        4. From that time he assumed responsibility Himself. (The Gospel According to Luke; Morgan; pg.44)
        5. Kelly & I love to watch the bar mitzvah’s at the Wailing Wall when we go to Israel. [You should hear Kelly’s high pitch Jewish mama yell!]
    8. (44) Sought Him – [a thorough & repeated action]
      1. Lit. “they searched up & down, back & forth, a thorough search & prolonged.” (RWP)
    9. (45) Imagine the flyers from Kidron’s Kinko’s, Missing Messiah!”
    10. (46,47) Here is where we observe the truths: “like seeks like”; “Birds of a feather flock together”.
    11. He gained knowledge by careful attention, by asking insightful questions, & by receiving instruction.
      1. Asking questions was perfectly natural of every disciple.
      2. He obviously learned from Joseph, training at home was the norm.
        1. And yet, they had never met a Boy like this before!
      3. This story seems to illustrate the truth of vs.40 & 52.
    12. After 3 days – They were a day’s journey away. It took them a day to get back, & found him on the 3rd day.
      1. A day’s journey was 20-30 miles. With a company then only 10 m.
    13. (48) Note: Mary’s anxious question & Jesus’ answer are the heart of the passage!
      1. Jesus revealed an awareness of His unique relationship w/His heavenly Father. (Shepherd’s Notes; pg.12)
    14. Son – This isn’t “child of vs.40; this isn’t the Boy of vs.43.
      1. Instead this is a different term, that is a tender Mother word!
        1. It speaks of the child that she has borne.
      2. Q: Where would you have been found?
        1. Oh, we also should be found in God’s House!
    15. Anxiously – Q: What was going through their minds? Q: Did they flashback to age 2, when Herod sought to kill Jesus, in themassacre of all male toddlers? – Q: Did they become prey to panic?
      1. Q: Can you relate to a situation in your life parents? [not too many parents can throw a stone at Joseph & Mary here]
    16. Were they wrong for being “anxious”?
      1. Aren’t we to be anxious for nothing? (Phil.4:6)
      2. No, this is a different word. Only Luke uses it (5 x’s).
      3. Hear how Luke uses it later in ch.16:24,25 [Tormented]
      4. Every normal parent feels this at some time or another!
    17. (49) Here are the 1st recorded words of Jesus.
    18. I must – He was obliged to the Father’s will.
      1. Jesus expresses His sense of relationship to God, of responsibility to God, & of response to that responsibility. (Ibid; pg.45)
    19. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (NIV)
      1. Lit. “I must be in the things of the Father of me.”
      2. Q: Are you about your Fathers business?
      3. Q: He knew His special mission, do you know yours?
    20. Note contrast in Your father vs. My Father!
      1. Clearly he knew who He was & what He was!
      2. We do not know how he became conscious of His special relationship to God. [His Self-kowledge; Messianic consciousness!]
    21. FROM BAR MITZVAH TO MANHOOD! (51,52)
    22. (51) He went down with them – The ideal boy.
      1. He was subject to his parents. [same word as “wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord”]
      2. His heavenly Sonship didn’t excuse him from his earthly Sonship!
      3. He had responsibility to the home in which he was brought up.
    23. (52) He increased – (προκόπτω /prokopto)
      1. Dean Farrar, “The word used here is derived from pioneers, cutting down trees in the pathway of an advancing army.”
      2. Thayer, “means to lengthen out by hammering as a smith forges metals.”
      3. The meaning then is “to chop forward, to beat forward, to hack on.”
        1. The idea then is strenuous activity rather than passive development.
      4. He lived in all the years of development, maintaining His fellowship with God, & his fellowship with men; by the side of God, & by the side of(with) men.
    24. Jesus perfectly balanced – at 12 & throughout life.
      1. Wisdom – Intellectually!
      2. Stature – Physically!
      3. Favor with God – Spiritually! [He both communed personally w/His Father; & never forsook the gathering together of the brethren!]
      4. Favor with men – Socially! [Character is what we are; Reputation is what others think of us] – Both must be in line w/Christian profession.
        1. Acts 6:3 “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;”
        2. 1 Tim.3:7 “Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
    25. So we learn of Jesus growth from Babyhood to Boyhood; from Boyhood to Bar mitzvah; from Bar mitzvah to Manhood.
      1. He is still the greatest example for childhood & youth!
      2. Then for 18 years “increasing”.
        1. In His next narrative(ch.4) He is 30 years of age(3:23).
      3. Wow, what was it like to wait “18 more years” when the world was going to hell in a hand basket? [Waiting]
        1. Q: Might God make you wait also? (For a mate? For a job? For an answer? To start a ministry?)
      4. Jesus waits 30 years!...Can we wait 30 weeks? 30 days? 30 minutes? 30 seconds?
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Luke 2". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/luke-2.html. 2017.