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Notes on message brought on 14 February 2010 by John MacDiarmid
As we have gone through the early part of Luke’s gospel we are already seeing a pattern of the narrative of this great gospel. Luke delights to highlight the contribution made by the ordinary person, male or female, Jew or Gentile, young or old. And in this passage we see again the contribution of ordinary people who made extraordinary contributions to the kingdom of God.
We are now considering the circumstances in the life of Jesus immediately after His birth. Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus are still in or around Bethlehem. The flight to Egypt has not yet taken place and there are some requirements still to be fulfilled before Mary and Joseph can continue with their God-given task of raising the Messiah.
1. Ordinary People – doing what is required.
Mary and Joseph had certain obligations under the Law. They were required to give Jesus, as their firstborn, to God. They were also obligated to have him circumcised and to offer sacrifices at the temple for Mary’s purification. They did all three. No one is above keeping the requirements of God – not even Mary and Joseph – or even Jesus himself. The requirements of the law have been fully met by Jesus himself, but that does not mean that God places no expectations on us. God’s blessing is and will to be with those who commit themselves to fully doing what is required, in every area of their lives..
NB – though not a major part of this message, note the poignant irony in the presentation of Jesus in the temple, and the fact that the offering made would one day be fulfilled by his death
2. Ordinary People – looking to the future
We now meet a character who appears once only in the Bible, the righteous and devout Simeon. We read that he was waiting for the consolation of Israel. In other words he was living for the future. God’s kingdom belongs to those who live their lives with an eye to the return of Jesus. Is that true of us? Jesus tells us to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. Those who do that make decisions about every area of their lives that are eternal implications. Does our view of eternity affect the choices that we make about every area of our lives?
3. Ordinary People – living by the Spirit
We read that even under the old covenant the Spirit of God was upon Simeon. We read that he was led by the Spirit and that he spoke to the couple by the Spirit. God used an ordinary devout man to speak words of encouragement to this couple, by the power of the Spirit. Are we open to the possibilities available to every believer who wishes to serve God, as they yield their lives to the Spirit of God? The life of god’s Spirit lives in every believer, an as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians, every believer has a contribution to make to the life of the body.
4. Ordinary People – in the Lord’s house.
Now we meet a new character – Anna. She appears to be the very last person that we would expect to be powerfully used by god in his work. . But she was constantly about the Lord’s business and was available to be used by God. Are we?
5. Ordinary People – encouraging God’s servants
And finally – Mary and Joseph were about to start the challenging, demanding and unspectacular task of raising the child who was to become the saviour of the world. They did in a quiet backwater of the Roman Empire, and, as far as we know, heard little or nothing from God during those years. What prepared them for those long years of service? Surely the words of encouragement and affirmation from Simeon and Anna played their part. Are we open to the possibility of the impact that our words can have on the lives of those who are serving the Lord? Like this old couple, we too can play our part in the encouragement and equipping of God’s saints for the purpose to which he has called them.
God’s church is built on the labours and the attitudes of ordinary people who love him and want to serve him. Is that you?