BULLETIN

SERMON TEXT BELOW

Christmas 1, 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
December 26, 2021
Exodus 13:1–3a, 11–15, Colossians 3:12–17, Luke 2:22–40

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            The anticipation of the celebration of Christmas begins to build after Thanksgiving and continues to inflate up until Christmas Day morning.  Christmas Day afternoon you are left with torn wrapping paper, a sink full of dirty dishes, and a sense of being kind of let down that it is over.  It is as if the anticipation were a big, beautiful balloon but then on the day after Christmas so much of the air has been let out you’re left sad and deflated. 

            I remember as a teenager feeling very disappointed by Christmas.  I don’t think I knew what exactly was disappointing, but I remember thinking that the reality of Christmas did not live up to the anticipation.  Some of that I now blame on the retailers who push us to buy, buy, buy and tell us that we can find happiness inside the boxes under the tree.  Some of this I blame on myself of having unrealistic ideas of what we are celebrating at Christmas. Some of it may even be that the Church over-promises what we are celebrating at Christmas. 

            I think it is easy to get so into the celebration of Jesus’ birth that we can get distracted as to what is actually happening. With the trip to Bethlehem, the baby in the manger, the angels, the shepherds, the magi, the gifts, it is all very wonderful and supernatural and amazing.  The Son of God has become flesh and lives among us.  It is all so bright and warm and wonderful and perfect. 

            For the baby Jesus, however, life is not always so bright and warm and wonderful and perfect.  Eight days after He is born, Mary and Joseph bring Him to be circumcised and named Jesus, Joshua, YHWH saves, the LORD saves.  Baby Jesus, God in flesh, sheds God’s blood to fulfill the law. 

            Thirty two days later, forty days after His birth, Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple.  The Temple was the place of the Lord’s presence with His people in the Holy of Holies.  Now the Lord is returning to the Temple in the person of that 40-day-old little Jewish baby boy.  This trip to the Temple is for Mary’s purification 40-days after giving birth to a male child and it is to redeem Jesus as the first born.  Normally, a lamb is sacrificed to redeem the firstborn to remember God sparing the children of Israel in Egypt whose homes were marked with the blood of a lamb.  Mary and Joseph offer two common birds instead.  This shows that they are humble people of little means and also shows that there is another Lamb present.  Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

            This is amazing, this baby is God’s salvation, a light for the Gentiles, the nations, the non-Jews.  What does that mean?  This baby has come for all people.  Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

            At the Temple there are two people waiting for Jesus; Simeon and Anna are waiting for the consolation of Israel; the redemption of Jerusalem. 

            Simeon takes the baby Jesus in his arms and blesses God and declares, “Master, now you are setting your servant free according to your word in peace; because my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.” 

            This is amazing, this baby is God’s salvation, a light for the Gentiles, the nations, the non-Jews.  What does that mean?  This baby has come for all people.  Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

            But then Simeon’s words take a dark turn.  Luke 2:34–35 (ESV)  34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” 

            Jesus will bring the fall and rising of many in Israel. Jesus, the Son of God, humbly takes on human flesh in the womb of Mary and is born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger. He looks like any other baby boy, but He is not.  He is God in flesh.  And because of that people will reject Him, hate Him, plot his murder, and kill Him. Jesus brings peace between God and man but brings conflict between the world, and Jesus and His followers.  He will later teach, Matthew 10:34 (ESV) 34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 

            People hate Jesus because they do not want to admit they need a savior.  To admit you need a savior is to admit that you are a sinner.  To admit you are a sinner is to admit that there is sin.  To admit that there is sin is to admit that there is right and wrong and it is determined by God, not by you.  To admit you need a savior means that you cannot save yourself and there is such a temptation to think you can do enough to save yourself. To admit you need a savior is to admit you are a helpless sinner who is lost.  To admit you need a Savior is humiliating and people hate to be humiliated, so people hate Jesus.  And people hate those who follow Jesus. 

            A sword will pierce through your own soul.  The thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God and the Word of God in His law cuts through your soul.  It reveals your inner sinful self.  It reveals that you are, by nature, sinful and unclean.  The sword of God’s Word cuts deep and reveals that you are indeed a sinner; guilty and ashamed of your sin. 

            This guilt and shame brings us back to Simeon’s earlier words.  His eyes have seen the Lord’s salvation.  Jesus is salvation.  Jesus comes to save sinners.  God’s Word cuts with the law and reveals the sinful thoughts of your heart, and God’s Word heals by bringing the Good News of forgiveness of your sins through the blood of Jesus first shed when He was 8-days old, and shed again 33 years later on the cross of Calvary.

            Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  At your baptism you are marked with the blood of the Lamb, you are given the gift of the Holy Spirit to believe that Jesus is indeed Immanuel, God with us; your Savior from sin.  You know that the baby Simeon is holding is God for you.  You know the bread and wine in Holy Communion are God for you.  You know you hold the Body of Christ in your hand even though you do not understand how that happens.  You know it is God for you.  You know your sins are forgiven, and so, in Christ, you are ready to die.  You can sing with Simeon 

Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word,

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.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost;

as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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