Calvary Road Baptist Church

November 27, 2014 - 319 West Olive Avenue, Monrovia, California 91016 (626) 357-2711

“CHRIST’S PRESENTATION AT THE TEMPLE

(Christ’s reason for being there)

Luke 2.22-38

 

Next Sunday our church will celebrate Easter, that annual observance commemorating the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Being committed Bible people, we will not celebrate the resurrection of our savior with chocolate bunnies or colored hard-boiled eggs.

Remember, from your own reading of God’s Word, the sequence of events leading up to Christ’s glorious resurrection. The Lord Jesus Christ instituted the communion of the Lord’s Supper during the Passover meal, the night before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Three days later, He rose from the dead, which event we commemorate on Easter Sunday. It was just after He had instituted the Lord’s Supper that the savior and eleven of His disciples left that upper room and passed close by the Temple that last night before His crucifixion, as they walked to the Garden of Gethsemane on the side of the Mount of Olives. That was the last time He was in close proximity to the Temple until He comes in power and great glory at His second coming.

Today we look at a passage that records the first time our Lord Jesus Christ came to the Temple in Jerusalem, when He was presented to His heavenly Father, fulfilling a requirement of the Law of Moses. To that end, turn in your Bible to Luke chapter 2. When you find Luke chapter 2, stand for the reading of God’s Word, beginning at verse 22:

 

22     And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

23     (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)

24     And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

25     And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

26     And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

27     And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,

28     Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,

29     Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

30     For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

31     Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

32     A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

33     And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

34     And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

35     (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

36     And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

37     And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

38     And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

 

This passage records events leading up to the Lord Jesus Christ’s presentation before the Lord, at the Temple in Jerusalem. There were three other especially notable people who converged on that site, thirty-three days after the Lord was circumcised: His mother Mary, a man named Simeon, and the aged woman Anna. Our attention, however, is focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, the infant Christ child, Who is the king of glory. Verses 22-23 directly address our Lord’s reason for being at the Temple that day:

 

22     And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

23     (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord)

 

There are several reasons for our Lord Jesus Christ being in the Temple that day we should be aware of:

 

First, be aware of God’s possession of the first-born

 

It has always been with God’s people that the first-born son of a family or clan would assume priestly responsibilities for the clan when his father died. This was a principle God established and recognized from the days of Adam to the days of Moses. Therefore, because the first-born was the individual who would approach God and represent his family or clan to God, God underscored His personal possession of the first-born in Exodus 13.1-2, where we read,

 

1      And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2      Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.

 

Please do not wrongly conclude, from this passage, that God only lays claim to the first-born. That would be a mistake. God owns every child. God owns every person. God owns every thing, by right of creation. However, He retained a particular claim on the life of the first-born.

 

Next, be aware of God’s provision of the Levites

 

To work out the details of the Mosaic economy and its requirement for a contingent of priests to serve on a regular and full-time basis, God saw fit to set aside for Himself the entire tribe of Levi to function as priests. Aaron and his descendants were chosen by God to minister in and around the Tabernacle, and later on in the Temple, with the other Levites supporting the Aaronic order.

Still asserting His right to claim the first-born for Himself, God’s plan worked to allow the tribe of Levi to substitute for the first-born of each home as priests. I read Numbers 3.12-13:

 

12     And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine;

13     Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the LORD.

 

God had a whole host of priests set aside to serve Him under the Mosaic economy who were first qualified by tribe, then by family, and by physical characteristics, and finally by age. It would be a mistake not to recognize Israel’s priesthood as an elite cadre of men set aside to serve the most high God. In that sense, they were holy.

 

Third, be aware of God’s problem with THE Levites

 

Even before the inception of the priesthood there were problems. Though we will not read the passage at this time, remember that while Moses was atop Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from God, the people at the foot of Mount Sinai were feverishly breaking those commands. Who, pray tell, led the sinning by crafting the idolatrous golden calf, Exodus chapter 32? Aaron, the brother of Moses! Listen to Aaron’s pathetic excuse to his younger brother, Moses, in verse 24 of Exodus chapter 32: “Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.” It is quite obvious that this man had his own sins to worry about, much less the sins of the people he would represent in his dealings with God.

Soon after the inception of the Aaronic priesthood another problem occurred, which once again illustrates the weakness of not only the Aaronic order, but of any order of priests who are mortal men. Nadab and Abihu, two of Aaron’s sons, offered strange fire on the altar. God immediately slew them for their sin of presumption. And so things went with the Aaronic order. And so things always go with priests who are mortal men, as God knew would happen.

If you look into the book of Hebrews, you will see a compilation of the problems that existed with the priesthood of Israel, and which exists with any human priesthood, which presumes to mediate between God and man.

Hebrews 7.18: “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.” The Law under which the Aaronic priests functioned was weak and unprofitable insofar as remitting sins was concerned. In other words, the Law was great for telling you what is wrong with you, but it has no power to correct your problems.

Hebrews 7.23: “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death.” Priests who are mortal men die. You might not think this a problem, but God does, or He would not have made it an issue with a priesthood of men.

Hebrews 7.27: “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” Human priests have to offer up sin offerings for their own sins, and then for the people they minister to.

Was there a problem with the Aaronic order of priests who ministered in the Tabernacle and then in the Temple? Yes. There will always be problems with priests who are mortal men. They are sinful, they are mortal, and they die.

 

Finally, be aware of God’s provision of His Son

 

When a Jewish mother brought her first-born son to the Tabernacle, and then once it was built to the Temple, to acknowledge him God’s property, God’s attitude was essentially, “Thanks, but I’ll use the Levites.” This went on for centuries, until One was born Who would replace the Levitical priesthood with a better priesthood. When He was brought to Jerusalem on this day to formally acknowledge that He was God’s, God had the attitude of, “That’s right, and I’ll take Him.”

This small child would begin His priesthood as an adult. As well, it would be radically different than any ordinary human priesthood. Instead of ministering under a weak and unprofitable Law, He would minister a better testament that had power to benefit mankind. Hebrews 7.22: “By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.”

Instead of having a priesthood populated with mortal men who died, Christ would preside over His Own unchangeable priesthood, capable of saving to the uttermost, because He ever liveth to make intercession for us, Hebrews 7.24-25:

 

24     But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

25     Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

 

Finally, instead of having a priest who was himself a sinner, Christ, the sinless One, would not need to offer daily sacrifices for Himself and then for others. He would offer Himself one time, a complete and acceptable sacrifice for sin, Hebrews 7.27-28:

 

27     Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

28     For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

 

The infant Christ child needed to be in the Temple as preparation for His glorious priesthood which He now occupies, and from which He mediates for us, according to First Timothy 2.5-6:

 

5      For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

6      Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 

Oh, the event that transpired in Jerusalem that day, with only four or five people having any idea what was actually happening. The Son of God was presented to, and after a fashion accepted by, His heavenly Father!

 

SERMON:

 

We hear a great deal of talk these days about accepting Jesus Christ. Have you noticed that? Professing Christians always talking about how they accepted Jesus.

Incredible, isn’t it, how things get twisted around because people are not careful about details? You would think no one ever read a Bible.

I say that because you never find anyone getting saved in the Bible by accepting Christ. People always talk about how they accepted Christ, but there is no precedent for it in the Bible. The whole thing troubles me.

What we find in the Bible is that God accepts those who are in Christ. Ephesians 1.6 reads, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”

At His presentation at the Temple, then, we know God the Father accepted Jesus Christ, since He was formally presented to His heavenly Father on that occasion according to the dictates of the Law of Moses. As well, from Ephesians 1.6, we know that God the Father accepts those who are in Christ.

So, what we have in the Bible is God the Father doing to the accepting. He first accepted His Own Son. Then, He accepts those who are saved by His Son. But we never find a sinner doing the accepting in order to get saved.

Let me tell you what is wrong with you accepting Jesus in order to get saved, after which I will tell you what Jesus demands of sinners:

 

First, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU ACCEPTING JESUS IN ORDER TO BE SAVED?

 

Nothing, I guess, so long as you are okay with some plan for being saved that is not found in the Bible. Are you okay with conjuring up some plan to get to heaven that is foreign to the Bible?

Does it not bother you that the Bible is perfectly clear and amazingly clear about the simplicity of the gospel, and how straightforward it is for a sinner to be saved, yet someone has to change things around?

I know that some people think the distinction between accepting Jesus Christ as your savior and what the Bible specifically says is a distinction for which there is no difference, but I respectfully disagree. Proverbs 14.12 reminds us that “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” The principle is so important that we are reminded of exactly the same thing again in Proverbs 16.25.

Consider this matter of accepting Jesus. When you accept Jesus, you are passing judgment on Him. When you accept Jesus, you are finding Him acceptable. When you accept Jesus, you place yourself as the final authority. When you accept Jesus, you eliminate from your mind any consideration of Jesus being the King and you being the supplicant, for what commoner ever accepted a king? As well, it is frequent in the Old Testament for God to accept the offerings of the worshipper.

There are several Hebrew words translated “accept” and “accepted” in the Old Testament. They have meanings that range from rising to approving. Do you see the problem with this? Sinners are not saved by coming to highly estimate Jesus. Sinners are not saved by coming to the place where you approve of Jesus.

Never in God’s Word do you see someone get saved by coming to such realization of Christ’s greatness, of His grace, of His power, of His majesty, or of the salvation He offers. Sinners are not saved by accepting Jesus, if by accepting is meant coming to a high opinion of Him.

My friends, the high opinion of Jesus Christ is not formed in the mind and heart of the person as he is saved from His sins and made a new creature in Christ. Oh, no. The high opinion of Christ, the accepting of Him if you will, comes from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, whereby the sinner is made to see himself low in his sins and to see Jesus as the high and lifted up savior. However, that happens before the sinner is saved.

I am challenging you here today who claim you were saved by accepting Jesus as your savior. I am challenging you on the basis that such an approach to being saved is simply not found in the Bible. In addition, I am challenging you on the basis that such an estimation of Jesus Christ is rightly and properly arrived at before the sinner has been saved.

 

On The Other Hand, WHAT DOES JESUS DEMAND OF SINNERS?

 

Will you grant that there is only one way to be saved? Will you grant that there is only one true plan of salvation? If you will grant me that faith in Christ is the only way for any sinner to be saved from his sins, will you also grant that the various instructions for getting saved are all really looking at the same thing from differing perspectives? Thus, to receive Christ is to trust Him is to believe on Him is to come to Him.

To reiterate, when Paul told the Philippian jailor to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” in Acts 16.31, and when Paul wrote to the Ephesians about trusting in Christ in Ephesians 1.12, it is essentially the same thing as when Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11.28.

In each instance, the single requirement for the salvation, which Jesus alone provides, is looked at from a somewhat different perspective. However, whichever perspective you look at salvation from, there is only one way, and that is Jesus Christ, to whom the sinner is joined by faith.

Where does accepting Jesus fit into this picture? I do not think it fits into this picture from any perspective, from any angle. Therefore, I like to look at this matter of conversion from what I believe to be the simplest of the vantage points given to us in scripture, the directive Jesus gave concerning little children. In Mark 10.14, Jesus said to His disciples, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”

Therefore, the simplest and most direct conception of how to be saved is the directive the Lord Jesus Christ gave concerning children. After all, if children can understand, how much simpler can a concept be? Therefore, Jesus gave orders that children be allowed to come to Him. In addition, in Matthew 11.28, which I just read, Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

 

“Pastor, I am a Christian, because I asked Jesus to save me.” Can you find a single instance in the Bible where a sinner is saved by asking Jesus to save him?

 

“Pastor, I am a Christian, because I prayed to God and said, “Be merciful to me a sinner.” Be careful. Jesus was standing right there when that sinner prayed that prayer to God. Did not the Lord Jesus Christ declare Himself the way, the truth, and the life? Be careful how you use that sinner’s prayer.

 

My suggestion is that you just do what Jesus actually told sinners to do, that you very simply and in uncomplicated fashion come to Him. What can be wrong with that? After all, that is what Simeon actually did when he laid eyes on Him. That is what Anna did when she beheld Him.

They had already arrived at a decided opinion about His greatness, about His mission, about His unique role in God’s great plan of the ages. Then they came to Him. Have you accepted Jesus as Wonderful, as Marvelous, as Prince of Peace, as Savior, as Son of God, as Messiah of Israel? How wonderful that you have accepted Jesus. Now, in order to be saved from your sins . . . you must come to Him.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org