The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord
“A Guaranteed Future”
St. Luke 2.22-32; Micah 3.1-4
02 February 2019
Seminarian Simeon Cornwell, Vicar
+ In the Name of Jesus +
By God’s grace you’ve been blessed with faithful pastors who taught it to you over the years: Every word and deed of Jesus is done for the salvation of mankind.
Instances such as our Gospel text for today often make that abundantly clear. For what need, we may (or should) ask, does the Son of God have of being presented before the Father in the temple? What need is there, if He has been there before God the Father from eternity, as we confess in the Creed?
We’re told in our text that in the Law, every male first opening the womb was to be called holy to the Lord. But wasn’t Jesus perfectly holy already? For Jesus, being Himself God, is in fact the fulfillment of the Law in bodily form.
He’s already perfect. Already holy. So why does He need to be presented? If we forget the purpose for which Jesus has come we can very easily get the answer to these questions wrong, as so many have throughout time.
And so we must remember that every word and deed of Jesus is done for the salvation of mankind. Because we all have not and cannot fulfill the Law.
So He does all these things, not for Himself, but for you. For your salvation. And so His father and mother bring Him to the temple that He might fulfill every dot, every iota of the Law.
They offer the two turtle doves or two young pigeons, the offering that was prescribed for those who were poor. For those who could not afford to purchase and offer a lamb.
Yet, we could say that He, being the Lamb of God, is the lamb presented as a perfect sacrifice to the Father. The perfect sacrifice to end all sacrifices. The perfect sacrifice who would be offered upon the cross for the salvation of all mankind.
So again, while Jesus has no need to do these things for Himself, He does them for you.
It is in this that the man Simeon rejoices. That the fulfillment of all of God’s promises find their yes in this little Child.
But Simeon does not recognize the Child because He comes with great pomp, as if He were dressed as a future king. Because this Child came in lowly, in the hands of a supposed virgin who got pregnant before marriage, and a no-name carpenter.
For as St. Paul writes in our Epistle, “God chose what is foolish to shame the wise. God chose what is weak to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised. All this so that no human being might boast before God, except in this Christ Child.
Simeon has this low and despised Child revealed to him, as our text says, by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who directs Simeon to Jesus. To this seemingly insignificant Child.
And almost as an involuntary reflex, as Simeon takes the Child Jesus into his arms, he breaks out in praise to the Lord. Now that he has seen, and in fact at this very moment is holding, the Christ-child, he can depart in peace.
This Child Himself, is the salvation of the Lord in bodily form. It is not only that Simeon has seen the Child, but that he has Him in his very arms. That is clinging to Him, just as a mother clings to her newborn. For Simeon knows that in this Child he has true joy and peace.
This Child, Simeon says, is also a Light. A Light that will bring revelation to the Gentiles. A Light that will not only reveal the darkness of men’s hearts, but also pull them out of the darkness.
It is for this reason that we began our service in darkness, following the light. For Jesus, the Light, enlightens all men. No darkness can overcome this Light, John writes.
Hopefully then, it is clear that our whole Gospel text, as well as all of Scripture, directs us to this Child. Through the words of Holy Scripture, the Spirit points us to Jesus. Draws us to Him. Shows to us, just as He did to Simeon, that He is the Light for revelation to the Gentiles. For all men.
Christ who brings such inexpressible joy and peace to all who come to Him. This is why Luther can write in the hymn that we just sang, that “death is but a slumber.” And that in Him, God’s people find their joy and glory.
It is why St. Paul exhorts us in our Epistle reading that if we boast at all, we should boast in the Lord. For our righteousness is not found in ourselves. But, as St. Paul writes, Christ is our justification, sanctification, redemption, and righteousness.
In Him we are presented pure before the Father. In Him we are seen as without spot or wrinkle, or any blemish. Because Christ’s presentation in the temple is your presentation. Christ’s perfect fulfillment of the Law is your perfect fulfillment of the Law.
This is not some mystical fairytale. For you have been united to the very flesh of Christ, to His very death and Resurrection, in your Baptism. St. Paul confesses this when he writes, “Do you not know that all of you who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, have been baptized into His death?”
And so, He continues, that just as Christ was raised from the dead, so too will you be raised to new life.
It is often said by faithful Christians that they wish they got to experience the same miracles that occurred in biblical times. But there is no need. For we have the same Christ here today that Simeon held in his hands those many years ago.
And while Simeon saw the salvation of the Lord and held Him in his arms, you get to taste the salvation of the Lord and see that He is indeed good.
So you too, like Simeon, can sing the same words, which in fact we do after every time we receive the Lord’s Body and Blood: “Lord, now you let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your Word. For mine eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of every people. A Light for revelation to the Gentiles and the Glory of Your people, Israel.”
Because no matter what you are experiencing now in your life, whether it be great suffering from physical ailments, large amounts of stress, loss of loved ones, financial issues, or whatever it may be, your future is guaranteed. For the very reason that Christ has overcome these and all troubles.
And so, even if, after we receive the Lord’s Body and Blood, we would depart this life tonight, we need not fear. For receiving the Christ Child you, like Simeon, can depart this life in peace. In Him you can joyfully await and look forward to that day when our Lord chooses to take you to be with Him forever.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.