The Christmas Story: The Story of Jerusalem

Bible Book: Luke  2 : 21-38
Subject: Christmas; Jerusalem

The city of Jerusalem is mentioned over 800 times in the scriptures. And when we think of this city we think of the association of some of the notable figures in Israel's history with this city.

Abraham's first connection with this city was when it was still called Salem, and Abraham met Melchizedek, the king of Salem, in Genesis 14:18.

(Genesis 14:18) "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God."

David's first recorded connection with Jerusalem was when he brought the head of Goliath there in 1 Samuel 17:54.

(1 Samuel 17:54) "And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent."

I thought of Nehemiah's arrival in the city of his fathers in Nehemiah 2:11. (Nehemiah 2:11) "So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days."

But there was not a more notable or important person who ever came to Jerusalem than the Lord Jesus Christ. We often think about his presence and passion in Jerusalem 33 years after his birth, but the passage before us tonight reveals his very first visit there some 33 days after his circumcision.

As Mary and Joseph and Jesus came to Jerusalem, they encountered a few things.

I. Let's Notice Their Encounter With The Word (vs. 21-24)

A. The Word Pertained To The Practice Of Circumcision

(Luke 2:21) "And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb."

1. This Child Was Given The Mark Of Separation

Boys were circumcised eight days after their birth. Tradition said that this day was chosen because the mother ceased to be unclean on the seventh day if she had borne a boy. He who circumcised the child used the following words: "Blessed be the Lord our God, who has sanctified as by His precepts, and given us circumcision." The father of the child continued: "Who has sanctified us by His precepts, and has granted us to introduce our child into the covenant of Abraham our father." The child was named the same day, because it was said that God changed the names of Abraham and Sarah when He gave the covenant of circumcision. (E. Stapler from The Biblical Illustrator)

There Was The Separation Of The Hebrew

(Genesis 17:10) "This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised."

There Was The Separation Of The Heart

(Deuteronomy 10:16) "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff necked."

(Colossians 2:11) "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ."

2. This Child Was Given The Mark Of Salvation

Circumcision was a symbolical and bloody removal of the body of sin. But as if to proclaim, in the  very act of performing this rite, that there was no body of sin to be removed in His case, but rather that He was the destined Remover of it from others, the name Jesus, in obedience to express command from heaven, was given Him at His circumcision, and given Him "because," as said the angel, "He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). So significant was this, that His circumciser, had he been fully aware of what he was doing, might have said to Him, as John afterward did, "I have need to be circumcised of Thee, and comest Thou to me?" and the answer, in this case as in that, would doubtless have been, "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:14-15). (From JFB Commentary)

The question meets us, If the blessed Virgin conceived the Son by the operation of the Holy Ghost, and if He Himself were absolutely and entirely pure, then what need of purification? What defilement was there, from which the Virgin Mother could be purified? And an answer is ready to hand, which seems abundantly sufficient, namely, that as Jesus was circumcised, so Mary was purified; in each case there was submission to the letter of a Divine law, and there was no desire and no attempt to establish an exception. (Bishop Goodwin from The Biblical Illustrator)

There was obedience to the law outside of the Temple and inside. This child who needed no cleansing, no redemption, no purification was brought for the sake of obedience.

(Matthew 3:15) "And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him."

B. The Word Pertained To The Presentation Of The Child

(Luke 2:22-24) "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."

1. There Was An Observance Of Redemption Here

(Exodus 13:11-14) "And it shall be when the Lord shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, {12} That thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the Lord's. {13} And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem. {14} And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage."

(Numbers 18:15-16) "Every thing that openeth the matrix in all flesh, which they bring unto the Lord, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine: nevertheless the firstborn of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem. {16} And those that are to be redeemed from a month old shalt thou redeem, according to thine estimation, for the money of five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs."

2. There Was An Offering Of Reconciliation Here

See Leviticus 12 regarding the Law of Moses concerning the events here in Luke 2:22-24

The proper offering on such occasions was a yearling lamb for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtle-dove for a sin-offering; but with that beautiful tenderness, which is so marked a characteristic of the Mosaic legislation, those who were too poor for so comparatively costly an offering, were allowed to bring instead two turtle-doves or two young pigeons. With this humble offering Mary presented herself to the priest. (F. W. Farrar)

II. Let's Notice Their Encounter With The Worshipper (vs. 25-35)

Legend has been busy with the name of Simeon. Nicephorus tells us that, in reading the Scriptures,

be had stumbled at the verse, "Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son" (Isa. vii. 14), and had then received the intimation that He should not die till he had seen it fulfilled. All attempts to identify him with other Simeons have failed. Had he been a High Priest, or President of the Sanhedrin, St. Luke would not have introduced him so casually as "a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon." The statement in the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary that he was 113 years old is wholly arbitrary; as is the conjecture that the silence of the Talmud about him is due to his Christian proclivities. He could not have been Rabban Simeon, the son of Hillel, and father of Gamaliel, who would not at this time have been so old. (F. W. Farrar)

A. The Bible Shows Simeon's Manner

(Luke 2:25) "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."

1. Notice Simeon's Reputable Manner

He Had A Reputation For Being Righteous "just"
He Had A Reputation For Being Reverent "devout"

2. Notice Simeon's Regulated Manner vs. 25b-26

The Source Of His Regulation "the Holy Ghost"
The Scope Of His Regulation

b1. His Time Was Spirit Regulated--he waited

b2. His Trust Was Spirit Regulated--he believed "he came by the Spirit"

(Luke 2:26-27) "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."

B. The Bible Shows Simeon's Message

Nunc Di*mit*tis (n3/4ngk" d¹-m ¹t"¹s, n‹ngk") n. A Christian canticle or hymn using the words of  Simeon in Luke 2:29-32, beginning "Nunc dimittis servum tuum" ("Now lettest thou thy servant depart"). [Late Latin : Latin nunc, now + Latin dºmittis, second person sing. present tense of dmittere, to send away.]

1. It Was A Glorious Message

(Luke 2:28-33) "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."

The Sanction Had Been Satisfied Vs. 29b-30
The Salvation Had Been Seen Vs. 29b-30 b1. A Worldwide Sight Vs. 31

b2. A Widespread Light Vs. 32

To The Heathen To The Hebrew

2. It Was A Grievous Message

(Luke 2:34-35) "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."

Concerning A Sign

(Isaiah 11:10-12) "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. {11} And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. {12} And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."

"This Child Is Set For The Fall And Rising Again Of Many In Israel" a1. He Would Be A Stone Of Stumbling "The Fall"

(1 Peter 2:6-8) "Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. (7) Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, (8) And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed."

b2. He Would Be A Stone Of Stability "Rising Again"

(Psalms 40:1-2) "To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. (2) He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings."

Concerning A Sword

(Luke 2:35) ("Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

III. Let's Notice Their Encounter With The Widow (vs. 36- 38)

A. Let's Consider Anna's Great Tragedy

(Luke 2:36-37) "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."

1. We See The Experience Of Her Tragedy

"And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years." If this means that she had been 84 years in a state of widowhood, then, since her married life extended to seven years, she could not now have been lees than 103 years old, even though she had married at the age of twelve, the earliest marriageable age of Jewish females. But probably the meaning is that her whole present age was 84, of which there had been but seven years of a married life.

(From Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary)

2. We See The Effect Of Her Tragedy

"which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day." Tragedies make you bitter or better.

It is difficult to conceive a more unbecoming, or more pitiable object, than a person, whether male or female, far advanced in years, but still engrossed with the trifles of time. (James Foote from The Biblical Illustrator)

B. Let's Consider Anna's Great Testimony

1. We Have Here The Testimony Of Her Life

[Anna, a prophetess] It does not appear that this person was a prophetess in the strict sense of the word, i.e. one who could foretell future events; but rather a holy woman; who, from her extensive knowledge and deep experience in divine things, was capable of instructing others; according to the use of the word prophetess. (Adam Clarke)

served - Greek 3000. "latreuo," meaning to minister (to God), i.e. render religious homage:--serve, do the service, worship (-per).

2. We Have Here The Testimony Of Her Lips

(Hebrews 13:15) "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

(Luke 2:38) "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."

"gave thanks" - Greek 437. "anthomologeomai," meaning to confess in turn, i.e. respond in praise:-- give thanks.


There is an old hymn called... "Jerusalem, Arise"

Written by Joseph Proud (1745-1826). The hymn says...

Jerusalem, arise,

The heavenly glory view;

The light is come, lift up thine eyes, All things are now made new.

Now ended is the reign Of error's gloomy night:

The Sun of heaven appears again And beams celestial light.

Now living waters flow

To cheer the humble soul: From sea to sea the rivers go,

And bless where'er they roll.

Jesus shall rule alone,

The world shall hear His Word;

By one blest Name shall He be known, The universal Lord.