Thursday, December 15, 2016

P1 God's Perfect Gift - Reflections on Jesus' Presentation at The Temple in Luke 2:21-40

Image result for Jesus presented at the temple
Luke 2:21-22 "And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
22 And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord."

Recently I just completed shopping for some items for my wife. Searching for the "right" gift takes forethought, knowledge of that person and the determination to search wherever possible to find that particular item (or set of items). Many people reading this post today are in the process of trying to find the "right" gift or gifts. We all know what it is like when we have achieved our goal and that person is delighted by what we bought. When it comes though to a "perfect" gift, there is only "One, Ultimate, Perfect Gift". James 1:17 reminds us with respect to God: "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." 

In today's post we want to consider the One Perfect Gift the Father gave. Interestingly enough, the Perfect Gift given by God the Father was a gift no one was looking to obtain nor had the interest in receiving apart from His grace. Nonetheless, the perfection of the Gift lies not within the recipients, but in the Gift and the Giver of the Gift. This Perfect Gift of which I speak is none-other than the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Understanding the scene of Jesus' presentation at the temple
In the account of Luke 2:21-40 we find the episode of Mary and Joseph presenting the infant Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem. John MacArthur comments on what Mary and Joseph are doing with the infant Christ:

"Performing everything according to the law of the Lord refers back to verse 22. After a Jewish woman gave birth to a male child, she was to go forty days later to the temple to make purification sacrifice.  And that's exactly what they did as verse 22 indicates when the days, the forty days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.  They went up, they made the appropriate sacrifice. They did what they were to do. Setting apart the male child, verse 23, indicates as the Old Testament instruction had been given in Exodus and in Numbers.  And then verse 24, to offer the sacrifice, in their case a pair of turtledoves, two young pigeons because they were too poor to afford a lamb.  So they did that. They made the sacrifice.  They presented the male child to the Lord. They uniquely presented this child, this virgin-conceived child to God."

What makes God's Perfect Gift so grand? This gift is the Gospel's Savior
So as we consider this Perfect gift, the Lord Jesus Christ, we find that everything occurring in this text: the setting, the ceremony of bring the infant child to the temple, the words that would be spoken by Simeon, and then Anna, was supremely orchestrated and set by God to convey the significance of this gift. If we take that word "g.i.f.t", we can note four significant features of God's perfect gift, the Lord Jesus Christ, as found here in Luke 2:21-40...

1. Gospel's Savior. Luke 2:21
Luke 2:21 reads - "And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb." This bit of information is parenthetical and takes us back to when Jesus had been named. Matthew 1:21-23 gives the clearest explanation of the meaning of Jesus' name: "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” The infant in Mary's arms was and remained God in the flesh. True humanity were united to the Person of the Son who had eternal been God along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Son came in the virginal conception, was born and would now be presented (see Hebrews 10:1-10). He came to experience human life, beginning the days following His birth as a helpless baby in the arms of his parents. 

Though frail and infantile in his humanity in this scene of Luke 2:21-40, the Son ever remained omnipotent, all-knowing, ever-where present with respect to His Deity. In this course of events, we find the Son voluntarily laying aside the benefits that come with being God whilst not ceasing to be truly and eternal Divine.  

As the Gospel's Savior, this Jesus could shed blood as the sinner's substitute. As the Gospel's Savior, this Jesus ever-remained truly Lord and God, which carries with it the unique capacity to provide salvation ("salvation is of the Lord" Jonah 2:9). 

As the Gospel's Savior, the very law He had revealed as God along with the Father and Holy Spirit He obligated Himself to complete as perfect man. A sinful man, Adam, had broken the original covenant God had made (see Genesis 3:1-14). Divine justice demanded that a man repair what had been broken. None but a sinless human being could remedy the situation (see Romans 5:12-20; 1 Corinthians 15:44-49). 

The Gospel's Savior was presented that day at the temple. Just as the Father had given this perfect gift for a humanity He wanted to redeem, this perfect Gift would be historically presented and testified of for all to read about, hear and see. Thus we find God's Perfect Gift being the perfect gift due to the fact that He is the Gospel's Savior.

More tomorrow....