INI + AMEN.
The Bible is God’s Word for you. It’s not for you to fill you up with facts and figures, though you could change it into that. It’s not for you so that you can memorize God’s right answers so you can be smarter than others or put it down once you’ve got it “right”. The Bible’s not for you only to give you some path to a better life. The Bible’s not dictates and rules and manuals from a bygone era. The Bible’s not a mysterious book, impossible to understand. The Bible’s God’s Word for you, but it’s not about you. He didn’t give it for you to figure out what it means to you.
So, what is it for? The Bible is God’s Word, and He gave it for you and to you in order to sanctify you, to make you holy. Figures and factoids are not your foundation for faith. Manuals and rules and laws don’t do you any good before God. The Lord has a completely different purpose for giving His Word. The Bible isn’t about you or hard to figure out or meaningless. Instead, the Bible is one big promise book, where God tells you how He’s going to save you and that He did actually save you. God’s Word is about Jesus, your Savior.
The 12 Days of Christmas, today’s Gospel reading, our gathering to hear God’s Word, our eternal salvation are all wrapped up in God’s Word and it’s true meaning. God’s Word is the story of God making promises and keeping them. God’s Word is all about God saving children for Himself in His Son, Jesus. We believe this is true because the resounding, repeating message the LORD gives in His Word is that
THE LORD FULFILLS HIS WORD TO HIS CHILDREN.
((I.)) That’s what Christmas is all about.
God promised a Savior. In Eden, He first made that promise to Adam and Eve. He made that promise again and again: to Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and all the rest. He promised it to David and the kings of Judah. He promised it again and again through His prophets. That Word and Promise was fulfilled in Bethlehem. “A Savior born for you. He is Christ, the LORD.”
It’s fulfilled in our reading today, too. “The days of their purification were fulfilled according to the Law of Moses…As it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’…[they] gave a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves or two small pigeons.’”
The “male who opens the womb” points to Jesus who was “born of the Virgin Mary.” All the Laws were given for the Savior to keep in your place. The Sacrifices, too. Every animal killed told that the Savior would die. Every grain offering was burned up before God and given out for God’s people to eat. The Bread of Life, burned up under God’s wrath, but given you to eat at Communion. Every drink offering poured out points to the blood poured out for the forgiveness of your sins.
There’s no passage of Scripture that doesn’t point to Jesus Christ, your Savior, crucified and raised for you. We may put the Word of Jesus in red in some versions of our Bibles, but the truth is: every page is full of Jesus and His Word, dripping with the message of His blood shed for you. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, THE LORD FULFILLS HIS WORD TO HIS CHILDREN.
((II. That’s what today’s all about.))
That’s not just what your Bible’s all about. It’s what today’s all about, too. Not our reading, but your being here. THE LORD FULFILLS HIS WORD TO HIS CHILDREN, to you, just like Simeon sings, “For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people.” The Lord brings His salvation right to His people. That’s how He fulfills His Word to His children. He doesn’t just do it off somewhere. He makes it available to His children. The presents don’t stay in their hiding spots. They’re delivered to be enjoyed.
So a promise of a Savior ends with a Savior held in arms, seen with eyes, heard with ears, trusted in through faith. Simeon saw baby Jesus, held Him in his arms, heard Him. And Mary also saw and heard more, even His dying on the cross and risen again from the dead. You, too, have Jesus delivered to you in similar ways: things seen, heard, received into hands and mouths and hearts. You see water and hear words, or you see ink on a page (maybe pixels on a screen), or see and partake of bread and wine, just like Simeon saw and held a Baby. But THE LORD FULFILLS HIS WORD TO HIS CHILDREN, and so those things are what He says and promises. The Baby is the LORD’s salvation, the LORD Himself come to save His people. The Water and Word is Baptism into that Savior, the Scriptures are that Savior’s promise book, and just as He says, “My body, My blood; for you for the forgiveness of your sins.”
((III. That’s what eternal life’s all about.))
But the Lord’s not done. THE LORD FULFILLS HIS WORD TO HIS CHILDREN. “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy Word.” Yes, “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” How? We aren’t told. But Simeon was a priest, and priests from time to time were also prophets: Ezekiel. Simeon would die in peace, having seen and held, the “consolation of Israel,” the Baby Savior.
THE LORD FULFILLS HIS WORD TO HIS CHILDREN, to you. You will die in peace. He’s made that promise. “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” Jesus says. He is “appointed for the falling and rising of many in Israel.” Not just because some believe and receive what He promises and delivers and other’s don’t. No, He will actually bring you through death in peace and raise you from the dead, too. (He is that Peace.) That sort of eternal life, where you will come back to life, is yours because that’s the promise of His Baptism and His Supper of His body and blood, and THE LORD FULFILLS HIS WORD TO HIS CHILDREN.
God’s Word is for you, His Bible is for you. As are all His promises to you: Baptism, preaching, His Supper. His Word is for you. His Bible is His book of Promises. Through His Word, His preaching, His Supper, He would fill you up with His Word, His Promises.
But we’re selfish. We don’t read the Bible because we’re selfish. What’s 10 minutes a day? Or 2 hours to start a week? But even when we do read or receive His Gifts, we’re selfish all the more: focusing on our doing or using our doing as a chance to judge others. Maybe we even set up stipulations and reasons and actions that put us in charge of receiving the Lord’s Word and Gifts and Promises. Besides the fact that we aren’t even thankful to Him for what He’s doing for us in His Word and Gifts and Promises when we do read or receive them!
Thanks be to God for Christmas! THE LORD FULFILLS HIS WORD TO HIS CHILDREN. He keeps His promises. Savior promised, Savior sent, Savior crucified and raised, Savior delivered in His Word and Gifts. For you. That’s what the LORD wants to deliver into you. He wants to fill us up with His promises. He wants to make you holy, increase your faith in His Son, increase your love for the people you meet in your daily life. He does that. He promises that. He works that. All through His Word, which tells of Jesus, your Savior. Through His Gifts, He delivers Jesus your Savior all the more.
THE LORD FULFILLS HIS WORD TO HIS CHILDREN. His Word does what it says for you. Delivers what it says, too. Promises. Jesus. Salvation and forgiveness. That’s what He fulfills for you. Word and Promises and Gifts, even “My body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.”
INI + AMEN.