INI + AMEN.
Today’s the First Sunday after Christmas, but it’s also the Second Day of Christmas. The world would have us move on from Christmas, turn our focus to New Year’s. We’ll build up to Christmas, with advertising, sales, and parties. But once it’s December 26th, might as well take the tree down, get the 2016 decorations out and prepare to stay up until the ball drops at midnight. That’s the world, but the Church is different. From December 25 through January 6, the Church rejoices and meditates on her Lord and Savior’s birth. That’s a whole twelve days of rejoicing and meditating!
So, as members of the Church by our trust in Jesus, how do we meditate upon His birth? Let’s take a cue from the Third Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. This isn’t just about a day, but it’s about God’s Word, as we learn in the Small Catechism, “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” We rejoice and meditate on Christ’s birth by hearing what God’s Word says about Jesus and His birth.
Let’s not take our cue only from the third commandment, but there’s also words of warning in our text from Luke. “His father and mother were marveling at the things spoken about Him.” Mary and Joseph had angels speak to them concerning the birth of Mary’s son, Jesus. They named Him Jesus because of what an angel said! But our flesh so quickly wants to forget the great mercy of God and His Word. The Word which tells us of His birth is life and salvation for us. We shouldn’t despise this word and think, “Why do I need to hear about this again? I know it all already.” Mary and Joseph had angels appear to them, and they seem to forget. Joseph had been told, “You will name Him Jesus because He will save His people from their sins,” yet, when he heard Simeon praise God and say, “My eyes have seen Your Salvation,” “he marveled.”
Our flesh wants us to forget. The devil’s against it too. The world wants us to move on! The Lord knows we do it! Just listen to the words of warning from Simeon, “the thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed.” What he means is this: the Lord will discern and reveal what’s in your heart. Has it rejoiced to hear His Word always? Would you move mountains to have access to it and study it? Would you clear your schedule so you could hear of Jesus being born to save you? But it mustn’t be outward action only. Just showing up won’t do. He reveals the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
For this reason, dear Christians, rejoice! Rejoice to hear once again who Jesus is and what He’s done for you. He saves us from our sinful forgetfulness. He rescues us from our thoughts and actions which turn so quickly away from Him. Each one of us should be glad this 2nd Christmas day because
JESUS IS THE CHRIST, THE REDEMPTION OF JERUSALEM.
(I. He is the Christ.)
Jesus is the Christ. He’s the Messiah. The Anointed One. That’s what Christ and Messiah mean “Anointed One.” As kings and sacrifices were anointed with oil, so also Jesus is anointed with the Holy Spirit. He has to be! “He was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary.” He’s the promised Seed, set apart to be the Savior of the whole world. Jesus is the Christ, and so He is born under the Law. Today we hear about Jesus being under the law. “They brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord, as it’s written, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD.’” They offered the sacrifices appointed. Jesus fulfilled the Law, even though He wrote it. The one who wrote the Law is born under it and fulfills all that’s required: “Now, as they finished everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.”
Because Jesus is the Christ, He is also God and man. (How else could God be under the Law unless He became man?) The Christ must be God and man. It’s what’s prophesied about this coming Messiah. David in the Spirit calls the Christ “Lord.” In Psalm 110 he says, “Yahweh said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” Jesus is God. He is Lord of all. He was that way from His conception, but He is also man. He is like us in every way, without sin, of course. But He’s just like us. He was a baby. He cried. He ate. If they had diapers then, He’d need them changed. Simeon could take Him up in His arms. That was God. The Jesus baby is “the salvation” that Simeon sees and touches. But He grows like us: “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.” The Lord of all learns to walk and talk. This is why it’s a mystery. It’s why we prayed during Advent “By the mystery of Your holy incarnation, help us, good Lord.”
(II. He saves His bride (Jerusalem), His Church)
It is a mystery. He is Lord of all but grows like us, and He does it FOR YOU. That’s your salvation. God is man, man to deliver. He must be man, born under the Law. This is how He redeems us from the Law. He takes on flesh and blood to redeem us. JESUS IS THE CHRIST, but He’s also THE REDEMPTION OF JERUSALEM. He saves His bride, His Church, His Jerusalem. To save her, He’s going to die. That’s what Simeon prophesies about Jesus. He says it to Mary: “a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” Jesus will be pierced with nails and spear, dying for the sins of the world, for Mary’s sins. Her “marveling.” Even our forgetting His Word. All of it forgiven. Your sin paid for by the death of Jesus the Christ. This will give sorrow to Mary, of course, she will see her son die, and He will commend her to the care of John, the Apostle. But this dying is salvation and redemption. His death redeems Jerusalem, as Anna testified. She spoke “of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Not the city that’s sitting in modern day Israel. He redeems the spiritual Jerusalem, His Bride, the Church. But His death is for all people, as Simeon himself sings: “for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.” Salvation for all.
The Jesus held in Simeon’s arms shall die and rise. It’s what Christmas is all about. It’s not a twelve-day long birthday celebration. It’s a celebration that God has come to save us. That’s what we heard again today from Simeon and Anna. JESUS IS THE CHRIST. He’s the Son of the Father. He’s the Savior. The promised one. He’s God Himself yet man. Born a man under the Law to redeem us who are under the Law. He dies and rises FOR YOU. This is all in what Simeon and Anna say and sing. JESUS IS THE REDEMPTION OF JERUSALEM, your redemption. This is peace, light, and joy for you! It’s the Lord Himself speaking it to you in His Word, giving it to you in His Supper. Let’s not “marvel” like Mary and Joseph, or forget. We’ve been forgiven of that already. We’re at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and as the Psalmist says, “He will speak peace To His people and to His saints; But let them not turn back to folly.” Thanks be to God, then, that JESUS IS still THE CHRIST, THE REDEMPTION OF JERUSALEM, your redemption. Merry Christmas!
INI + AMEN.