Christ Covenant Church
Rev. Marq Toombs
10 June 2018
Third Sunday after Pentecost / Ordinary Time

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Sermon: Luke 2 

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The word of the Lord.

[Sketch Notes] 

Intro

Reason for writing = that you may know the true truth of your catechesis

Theophilus = lover of God

A theology of children.

Luke 1-2 = Stories about women and their children from before they were conceived to after they were born. Last week we focused on John. Today we will focus on Jesus.

Before conception 

God knew Jesus before he was born. Not only because he was God and dwelled with God from all eternity, but also because God is sovereign and knows the end of a story from the beginning

God told Mary who Jesus would be and what he would do before he was even conceived in her womb.

God called Jesus to be a son, a savior, and a sovereign. He was set apart from before conception to serve the purpose and plan of God.

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

And the angel answered her, “the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”

After conception

God took on flesh and became man in Mary’s womb not at his birth. The moment of conception was the moment of the incarnation.

When Jesus was only a teeny-tiny little baby in Mary’s tummy, he was still God in the flesh. When his body was still unformed, he was still God in the flesh. When he was being knit and woven together in his mother’s womb, he was still God in the flesh.

After forty weeks of gestation, from conception to formation, it was time for Mary to give birth to a fully developed baby boy. This baby boy was still God in the flesh.

As scripture says, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Gal. 4)

Birth

Mary wrapped her baby boy in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger.

This was a sign of the good news for the shepherds — Mary’s newborn baby boy is the Savior — Christ the Lord. 

This good news of great joy will be for all the people. Not just the shepherds. Not just the rich and famous. Not just Jews. But also for Gentiles. And the poor. And the weak. And the hungry.

This fulfills what was spoken by the prophets. 

Isaiah: For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9)

Micah: O Bethlehem,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
    from ancient days.
    when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
    to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace. Micah 5 

[Note: Now, this wrapping in cloths also foreshadows Jesus’s being wrapped in cloths for burial and laid in a tomb.]

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

The angels’ new song echoed the old songs of the prophets; their old songs echoed the eternal songs of the Spirit of Christ.

8 Days Old / Circumcision — a naming ceremony

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Circumcised was necessary or else Jesus would have been cut off from his people as a covenant breaker. Jesus’s faithfulness started with and depended on his parents’ obedience.

[Note: Jesus’ first circumcision was a foretaste of his last circumcision: his flesh was cut off; he felt sharp pain in his body; tears streamed down his face; he cried aloud; he shed drops of blood. What he experienced on a small scale as an infant he experienced later on a large scale as a man on the cross. (notes on Luke 2:21 cp Col 2:11; Isa. 53:8)]

40 days old / Dedication — a consecrating ritual 

As the firstborn son Jesus had to be redeemed, dedicated, and consecrated according to the Law of God — Exodus 13.

Destiny

Simeon called Jesus the Lord’s Christ, salvation, and a light for the gentiles. In other words, he saw Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise to save the world — Jews and Gentiles.

And yet Simeon told Mary that Jesus was not appointed to save every-single-person-under-heaven-no-matter-what. No — he was appointed by God to be a polarizing figure — to make some fall down and others rise up.

He is a stumbling block to some, and a sanctuary to others. Those who stumble on him will be broken to pieces; and the ones on whom he falls will be crushed. But the ones for whom he is crushed will be mended; and those who stand on him will never fall. (Luke 2:34-35; cp Isa 8:18; Mat 21:44; 1 Pet 2:6-8)

Jesus was destined to be sign that was spoken against / contradicted so that pensive, doubting, fearful thoughts might be revealed from many hearts. (Luke 2:35 cp Luke 5:22; 6:8; 9:46-47; 24:38)

[side-note: The Greek word for appointed (keimai) is also used in the birth and death narratives. Upon his birth the angels told the shepherds to look for a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and *lying* (keimai) in a manger (2:12, 16). Upon his death the body of Jesus was taken down from the cross, wrapped in a linen shroud, and laid in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been *laid* (keimai) (23:53). The stone that the builders rejected was *laid* as the cornerstone of our redemption.]

And when Mary and Joseph had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

Now, given his family and life experience, we can say with confidence that Jesus knew the Holy Scriptures from infancy. Not intellectually or emotionally, but experientially and spiritually (mystically).

With his parents’ help, Jesus learned God’s word by experience. His spiritual growth depended on his parents’ spiritual devotion and discipline.

No one ever accuses Mary and Joseph of imposing their will on the infant Jesus when they had him circumcised on the 8th day and consecrated on the 40th day after his birth. They were just doing God’s will for him and applying God’s word to him, by faith.

Likewise, Christian parents, you do the same things by faith when you present your children to the Lord for baptism and when you teach to obey the words of the Lord in catechism. You are applying God’s gracious will to your children for God’s glory and their good. (thoughts on Luke 2:39)

We live in a time when many professing Christians think that only hard-core legalistic parents would ever try to do everything according to the Law of the Lord for their children.

But that just goes to show that God’s ways are not our ways.

Psalm 19 says, The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart; enlightening the eyes; enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than much fine gold; in keeping them there is great reward.

That helps explain why Mary and Joseph raised Jesus according to the Law of the Lord and the rule of faith. And what was the result? “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.” 

favor = covenantal grace and faithful love

12 Years

By the time Jesus was twelve years old, Jesus was so well-versed in the scriptures that he wanted to go to the temple and sit among the teachers and elders — listening and asking them questions about the things of God.

And he was so well-catechized that all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

Mary and Joseph *finished* everything according to the Law of the Lord when Jesus was a baby. And when Jesus was a man — hanging on the cross — he *finished* everything according to the Law and the Prophets just as his mommy and daddy trained him to do. As the scripture says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Luke 2:39; cp 18:31; 22:37)

So you see, there is a direct correlation between the parents’ faithful obedience to God’s word and their child’s spiritual development and formation.

Present connections

Now kids, make sure your mommy and daddy are listening.

Jesus was not a morally, spiritually, or covenantally neutral child until he reached some mythical age of accountability. Nor are your children.

Jesus was marked with the sign of the covenant in his infancy, consecrated to God in his infancy, and brought up in the teaching and training of the Lord from his infancy. If that is how God wanted his son to be raised, how do you think he wants your children to be raised?

You don’t have to imagine or guess. His word tells you to do the same things with all your children that Mary and Joseph did with his child.

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and keep them before your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6)

Parents, you must teach your children the truths of God’s word, and that means you must talk to them.

As most of you probably know by now, no two kids are the same. Each one of your kids is unique.

You can raise your voice to one kid and get his full attention; but raise it to another and she will tune you out. You can speak softly to one kid and she will tremble with fear, but speak softly to another he will just blow it off. You can discipline one kid with mere words, but another one requires more than words.

Moms and Dads, you gotta make every effort to get to know each one of your children — and you gotta take the time to talk to them as individuals, and find out what makes them tick.

Now parents, make sure your kids are listening. Little children, you are called to follow Jesus, to walk in his footsteps, to carry his cross.

That starts right now when you are little.

Here are some things that Jesus did when he was a little kid that you can do.

Go to church. Listen to your elders. Talk to your pastor. Ask questions about God. Obey your parents. Learn what they teach you. Do what they tell you. Show them respect.  

When your parents tell you to clean your room, or take out the trash, or play with your sister, or share your toys, or feed the dog, or turn off your video games, or turn off your phone, or do your homework, or say your prayers, or get ready for church, or whatever they ask you — just do it.

And life will go well with you. Like Jesus, you will increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Pastoral Prayer — 

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