Why Jesus Came

Opening Video clip Introducing Sermon [02:37]

Pastor Dan – SERMON AUDIO (27: 14)

“Some of you may recognize that movie. .. how many of you saw that movie (2007) The Bucket List …by any chance?

Yes, a good number of you saw it… a movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, again it came out in 2007. And of course by “The Bucket List“,  what happened is, they’re good friends, Morgan Freeman gets diagnosed with a terminal illness.  And he creates this sort of bucket list.  He had created it before and now he’s set out to try to fulfill it.

It’s a list of all the things that he wants to do before he passes away. His and Jack Nicholson’s relationship struggled some…. and this is a clip from the very end of the movie, as Morgan Freeman has left him a letter in his passing, and you see that Jack Nicholson is left with the task of completing Morgan Freeman’s bucket list through his life.

And you know the interesting thing about the word “bucket list”… the concept in general is sort of revealing isn’t it.  If we were to ask people in this room just to pause and say, “OK, what’s on yours?   We would have a whole wide variety of answers wouldn’t we.

bucketList

Some things that you maybe wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing in church; and some things that cost a lot of money; and some things that just take a lot of energy and guts, or whatever it might be.

We’d have people who want to travel; people who have relational bucket lists; people who have things that they’d like to purchase, things that they’d like to accomplish… all kinds of different things that we’d like to do before we pass away.

And those things, each of them, reveal something about our hearts and where they’re at and the things that we prioritize.

The reason we share that clip and talk about that at the outset is because we’re going to look at a passage together as we continue in the Christmas story,  and look at the next stage of Jesus’s life.

We’re going to look at a passage of Scripture where we encounter a man who has sort of a “bucket list” if you will.  But it’s a “Bucket List of One“. And we’re going to look at the one thing that’s on his bucket list.

Now if you were to have a bucket list and it could only be one thing… what would it be?

It’s an easy question to answer if you can come up with a whole long list of things, but this man in our passage this morning has a bucket list of ONE.

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I want to invite you to our Scripture which is found in Luke Chapter two…starting in the twenty first verse.

If you’ve got a Bible with you, our you want to open one of the ones that we have provided in the pew; we’d love to have you turn their with us to the New Testament in the Book of Luke Chapter two starting in verse twenty-one, as we walk through this passage together this morning.

If not, the Scripture will be on the screen in front of you as always. And so here’s what the Scripture says Luke Chapter two, starting in verse twenty one.

Before we read this passage there’s a couple things I thought you might enjoy knowing about the context of this passage before we dive into it.

The first one is something that Charlie set us up really well with in the children’s message… in the whole story of the Magi.

The Magi were Gentile masters of all that is Divine.  The whole story of these people visiting Jesus and showing up in the first place, is something that we often associate as being something that happens right after Jesus’s birth.

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But I want to be clear, I believe that the events that we’re going to read about in our Scripture this morning happened before the visit of the Magi.

The events that happen in our Scripture involve  Jesus’ parents bringing him as a baby to Jerusalem.

Now if you were hearing what Charlie was saying, the Scripture tells us that once the Magi travel from the East and they get to Jerusalem… and they travel ten more miles South to Bethlehem…  once they make that trip and they come through Jerusalem, Herod finds out about it, and Jerusalem is no longer a safe place for Jesus and for his parents.

That’s why I’m suggesting that the events that we’re going to read.  Happened before the visit of the Magi.

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The other thing about this passage is it’s a stark reminder to how Jewish Jesus’s birth is.  We like to celebrate Christmas in America and sort of separate all of the things about Jesus’s birth that we celebrate from his Jewish past and line.

And yet this passage reminds us that Jesus being born was not just the decision of God on a whim like out of nowhere, “Hey, you know, I think I’m going to go, and I’ll send my son now.”

And it wasn’t the decision of God that he made a long time ago but kept a secret.  No, the birth of Jesus Christ was something that God had been communicating to people, His people through the Nation of Israel for centuries before it happens.

And this passage reminds us of Jesus’s birth, and his Jewish connections.

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Alright… let’s get into verse twenty one.  Now we’re going to see a few things, and highlight a few things before we get into the “Bucket List of One”.

Some of you really appreciate this kind of background information and some of you don’t, but here’s what the Scripture says,

Luke 2:21
 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

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So the first thing we see in this verse is that Jesus was, according to custom, circumcised on the eighth day.

In Genesis Chapter seventeen verse twelve, the Scripture tells us this.

Genesis 17:12
For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner–those who are not your offspring.

So this is where this comes from.

Jesus’s parents are being faithful Jewish parents at this point, having had their son circumcised on the eighth day.

It’s one of the reasons why here at Kirkmont you’ll notice that we often will be baptizing infants; it’s not because we think that by baptizing an infant we are somehow ensuring that those children go to heaven.  But because we, in short, believe that baptism is the new circumcision if you will.

And so out of continuation of that we baptize infants.

And Jesus was circumcised, on the eighth day, and then the scripture goes on and verse twenty two,

Luke 2:22
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem

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All right so now we have this new concept here… another time frame. The first time frame was eight days and now we have a new time frame that makes absolutely no sense to most of us… is the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses.

And for that reference we go all way back to the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament Chapter twelve verses one through four, and it gives us some insight into what the Scripture means here when it says this time of purification.

Now there are some things about women, and culture, and female body, and all this stuff that we just not going to get into details of  (Laughter)… is that alright with you.  But nonetheless here’s what the Scripture says,

Leviticus 12:1-4
The Lord said to Moses,  “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period.  On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. (Now this is what this verse is talking about) ->  Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over.

Now she’s going to the Temple in Jerusalem.  So she’s got to abide  by Leviticus twelve here, so she’s waited, the seven days for purification after having the birth of a son.  Thirty three more days for purification before she can bring that child to the temple.

So this is roughly the fortieth day of Jesus’ life… that these events are unfolding.

Now the Scripture goes on says.

Luke 2:23
(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord.”)

You know the word consecrated means either to dedicate or to sacrifice.

What Israelites did was they sacrificed the first male born animal that they owned; they dedicated the first male child that they own.

So this is what Mary’s doing… she’s having what we like to think of maybe even some modern day, a parallel to this would be a dedication service  before the Lord–dedicating her child to the Lord.

People often ask me, “Well you know when it comes the debate about whether we should baptize people or dedicate people or whatever it is we should do…”

I like to tell him you know.  Well Jesus was circumcised, dedicated, and baptized so he covered all the ground. 

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But anyway… so they they come before him… he’s dedicated before the Lord; and Mary and Joseph would have had this on their mind… they would have been thinking this:

So the reason why God asked them to do this is because some of you may recall the events of the Book of Exodus, where God delivered his people miraculously out of Egypt.  And he gave Egypt many many signs and wonders as to why they should release the Israelites from slavery.  And they refused.

And the final sign.  The effective one, was one of death.

It was an act where, if some of you remember, they celebrated Passover, because what God did through the Spirit… He came through and the first born male from Egypt passed away that night.

And so when God gives the Israelites instructions to bring their first born male and consecrate them to the Lord, it’s out of respect and honor and remembrance of what God did to deliver them before.  So that’s what he does here.

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Now in the Scripture goes on and says this, it says,

Luke 2:24
and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

This passage is interesting because it gives us some insight into Mary and Joseph financial status–it gives us some insight into the life, the type of upbringing that Jesus would have had with Mary and Joseph as parents.

See for the Scripture tells us this… if we go all the way back to Leviticus chapter twelve, verse eight. The Scripture tells us this,

Leviticus 12:8
But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, …

So she’s supposed to bring… if someone is in the financial situation they were supposed to bring a lamb, to come, and to make a sacrifice before the Lord at the time of dedicating their first born male child.  That’s what she was supposed to bring.

But if they cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves, or two young pigeons.

And that’s what Luke picks up on here. This is apparently what Mary and Joseph bring.

They’re in a financial place where they cannot bring the normal sacrifice, but God has allowed for people in their economic status to still honor Him, to still consecrate their first born child, and this is an insight into sort of the status and upbringing of Jesus.

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Now we get to the “Bucket List”.

Luke 2:25
 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel,

That was not the consummation of Isreal… the consolation of in Israel. It comes from the idea of to console.

And what Luke is picking up on here, and what was in Simeon’s heart was this… that Israel was a group of people who had been repeatedly, over the centuries, conquered and taken into slavery, time and time again.

Their life had always seemed like it was just a constant state of ruin… and if it wasn’t, it was about to be.

And even here as Luke is writing this, and as Simeon is experiencing this, the Israelites are under the rule of the Roman Empire.

So here’s he’s saying, ‘Simeon was someone who was righteous and devout and who is waiting for God to come and to bring hope into the midst of the situation and make_things_right.

“And the Holy Spirit, it says, was upon him.”

Luke 2:25b-26
… the Holy Spirit was on him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah (Christ).

This is and incredible verse… what the Scripture is telling us is that God, through His Spirit, communicates to Simeon, “You are not going to pass away and die until you see the Messiah.”

Now we don’t know when he communicated to him…  he might have told him last week.  He could have told them thirty years ago, we don’t know at what point in time God communicates to him…

…but we know that Simeon is an old man who’s thinking about his passing away at any day now.  And God has given him a promise, at some point in time in the past, that he would not die until he saw the Messiah.

This tells us something about the heart of Simeon and also the character of God as well doesn’t it.

It tells us something about the heart of Simeon–that Simeon was someone who was so focused on his relationship with God that… that this would mean much to him… that this would be that significant to him.

That he was knowledgeable enough in the Old Testament Scriptures, that he knew the Messiah was coming, but also that it was a really big deal to him.

And it tells us about the character of God who looks upon Simeon’s heart and honors that… and miraculously communicates to him that he’s going to see him before he passes away.

And it tells us about the character of God because here we see that God is faithful to his promise.

As the Scripture goes on in verse twenty seven.

Luke 2:27
Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.

So now, God miraculously ensures, through the Holy Spirit, that Simeon shows up at the temple at the right time, and the right place where Jesus and Mary and Joseph arrive as well… to make sure that he’s faithful to the promise that he had given Simeon.

Luke 2:27-28
Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying…

Now, you know, I always think… “I’m glad that Jesus wasn’t born today because I’m pretty sure Simeon would get arrested.”

Could you imagine … “Simeon took him into his arms…”  and the parents today would be like What?”

But apparently things but back then are a little different; maybe they knew Simeon, I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem that way.

Simeon takes this baby into his arms, he praises God, and he says this,

Luke 2:28-30
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:  “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation,

You see… we discover that Simeon has a “Bucket List of One“.

Of all the things that a man want.. might want to to see… to accomplish to achieve in life,

Simeon has this “Bucket List of One”.

He says basically this, “I’m an old man.  I’ve longed to see the Messiah.  And now that I’ve seen him, You can go ahead and dismiss me in peace… go ahead and let me die.  I’ve seen all that I need to see.”

He has his bucket list of one.  And you know, Simeon wasn’t the only one who wanted to see the Messiah… who wanted Jesus to be born.  There were a whole lot of Israelites who wanted to see Jesus be born, but you know the thing is that many of them wanted Jesus to be born for some of the wrong reasons.

They expected, they anticipated the idea that that Jesus would show up and he would change their social status as a nation.  He would change their economic status as a people he would give them respect and standing in the world.  That instead of being under the rule of the Roman Empire and other empires, He would raise them up… that this Messiah would raise them up and bring them into a new status.

And so many people longed for this Messiah to come, but for all the wrong reasons.

But I think there are two very clear reasons why we know that Simeon’s heart was different than theirs.  First he says,

  1.  My eyes have seen your salvation.  Not that they are being saved from the Roman Empire.  But as we talked about on Christmas Eve here… that Christ has come to save us from our sins.

    So Simeon’s heart was in a completely different place when it comes to the Messiah than many other people. Simeon is a wise man, an intelligent man who’s lived his life a long time, but he’s also a humble man… who realizes that if his relationship with God is utmost important to him… but he knows that if he is to have any hope in his relationship with God then he needs a Savior from his sin.And this is where he’s excited.  And he celebrates, he says, “For my eyes have seen your salvation”.  And he recognizes that Jesus is the one to come, and to save him from his sins.
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    I want to ask us this morning… when it comes with our relationship with God, and our HOPE for God… when we recognize the idea that we need to be saved from our sins… is our focus as singular as Simeon’s was?The tendency, of course, is to be focused upon ourselves… “maybe if I could live better, if I could do something better, maybe I could somehow save me from my own standing… I can make things right with God.

    But Simeon says here in his wisdom and in his humility, No, he says “In this child, he sees the salvation from his sins.”
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  2. You know the other reason why I think that Simeon’s heart was so different than many of the other Israelites was because he was an old man.If Simeon’s focus was, “Oh great the Messiah has been born, and now he can make my life wonderful, and he’s going to redeem Israel and change our soci0-economic status, and all that kind of thing.“If that’s the kind of thing that really mattered to Simeon… if anything, instead of celebrating God, he might have been a little bit upset with God.
    “Great timing God… all these years I lived my life as a second class citizen of this empire, and now you show up to make things right… right before I’m about to die.”

If that was Simeon’s focus.  He probably would have been thinking to himself… “This is lousy timing.”  But he thinks it’s perfect timing, because he knows his focus on his relationship with God is not about what God can do for him here on Earth…,

but about the reality of what God is going to do for him for all of eternity as well.

  • For Simeon there would be no answered prayer in Jesus’s name that will get him the job he’s always longed for.
  • For Simeon there would be no answer to prayer in Jesus’s name that would give him the marriage that he always wanted.
  • For Simeon there would be no answered prayer in Jesus’ name to have all the hope and joy and peace and happiness that he’s ever wanted in this life.

He wasn’t going to get any of that from this child being born because he’s about to pass away.

  • How can he still celebrate God then?
  • How can he say still celebrate Jesus if Jesus isn’t going to do anything for him in this life?

 

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It’s challenging for you and I and it forces us to ask the question, “Is our relationship with God, through His Son, Jesus Christ focused on the idea that IF we participate in a relationship with God, and we pray in Jesus’ name..

we’ve been conditioned to realize that our life here on earth will be a little bit better for us…

Is that really why we’re doing it?

It forces us to ask the question that if we knew tomorrow that God would never answer another one of our prayers considering our circumstances here on Earth, and make nothing better for us, change absolutely nothing for us, through all of our prayers in Jesus name…

Would we still faithfully walk with God?

And if the answer is no,  we might be challenged by Simeon’s obedience here.

Simeon was someone who was not going to benefit here on Earth from Jesus’ birth.  But he still celebrates his coming because he knows that’s where his hope for eternal life lies.

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And then he goes on…

Luke 2:31-32
… which you have prepared in the sight of all nations (people):  a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

So he comes along he says, “This child is for all people.” He’s not actually saying that every single person has seen this child… but by “all people” he means these two categories of people: Gentiles and Jewish people.

And so Simeon is someone who understood… he predicted what the Scriptures will eventually say to us later in the New Testament… “that in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, nor male nor female, nor slave nor free men… Christ takes all those barriers away.”

And he (Simeon) realizes that this is the child who’s come not just to save his people from Israel, but for all people.  He (Jesus) is the hope–the singular hope for all people from all nations. 

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You know this church, Kirkmont Presbyterian Church is connected to a Presbyterian denomination, but it used to be a part of a different Presbyterian denomination.  We went through the effort… not me I shouldn’t say that, but this church went through the effort of switching denominations.

And I’ve been asked by people who I tell that to, and people who come here, “Was that really worth it?  Was it that really worth all the trouble and the hassle? I mean aren’t you just sort of dividing the church and aren’t you just sort of… you know… aren’t you supposed to all get along?  I mean leaving a denomination that…  I’m not really sure of that was worth it.”

Let me tell you, I think this passage reminds us of the core reason why Kirkmont left the PCUSA.

The Presbyterian Church of the United States of America the PCUSA is a large Presbyterian denomination.  Not all of its churches, not all of its pastors, not all of its members, but in large, as a whole, is a church that is leaving the authority of Scripture–that’s the foundational issue.

But the first and most important symptom to me, of leaving the authority of Scripture, is that it has become a denomination that embraces the idea that Jesus, and some other options, are the hope for salvation for people.

That candidates who are trying to become pastors can get up and say, “I don’t believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven,” and still become ordained pastors.

They don’t have to have the same heart and attitude as Simeon in the Bible.  Jesus doesn’t have to be the salvation for all peoples; he doesn’t have to be the salvation for Jew and Gentile.  The people somewhere else, they can choose their own form of salvation.

The Lordship and the uniqueness of Christ is eroding in not just the PCUSA, but in a lot of churches in America because it’s not a popular thing to stand on anymore.

And yet Simeon, the wonderful example he sets before us, is his hope, his enthusiasm, his excitement isn’t just about him… it’s not just about Israel. Out of love and care for people all around the world, he knows the salvation for them too has arrived.

And then he goes on and says,

Luke 2:33-34a
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel,…”

Let’s just pause there… I know what I just said is a controversial component in today’s society.  It’s not tolerant.  It’s viewed as being judgmental.

And the Scripture understood from the beginning that what Jesus was going to do, as Simeon says here, he doesn’t know all the details, but he knows when Jesus comes along, and he says.

“I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”

..that that is going to divide people; that the name of Jesus Christ will be so significant and such a bold claim, that people will either rise or fall by His very name.

And so Simeon goes on and he predicts this reality… that He will cause division and tension, not only in His life when he says.  “And he will be a sign that will be spoken against…

and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.

as they say their negative things about this child. 

And then he looks to Mary…

And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

And he lets Mary know, not all the details…  I’m not convinced Simeon even knows all the details.  But he lets her know the general gist of what we now know today… and we remember, and we celebrate, and we worship.

And that is, eventually Mary’s Son would go to the Cross, and she would witnesses it.

And we can’t even begin to imagine what that must have felt like.

When we’re here… when we gather weekly, we do so not in a funeral-like way, but in a worshiping celebratory way, because we recognize that Jesus Christ was not a helpless victim, drug to the Cross.

No… He came on purpose; He lived his life and said what he did on purpose; and he went to The Cross on purpose, so that as Simeon says..

He might be the salvation for our sins. 

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Let’s pray together.

Heavenly Father… as always we take the time to pause and thank you for your Scripture; and for your Word.  We thank you for this character of Simeon, and we understand that while he sets for us a wonderful example,  he realized that he needed a Savior as well. We worship not him, but Christ his Savior.

But we thank you for the Biblical characters who provide us some wisdom and some insight into where our hearts and our minds and our attitudes might be.

We pray Lord this morning as we close our time together that our hope for the salvation of sins would rest solely in your Son Jesus Christ.  And that our relationship with Him would be more about the things which are eternal and unseen… than the things which are seen and temporary.

We ask these things now.  Christ name.

Amen.

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