- First reading
- Second reading
Hebrews 2:14-18 | New Living Translation (NLT)
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Luke 2:22-40 | New Living Translation (NLT)
Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
I have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared for all people.
He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.
Here in the United States today is known as Groundhog Day. Being that we are now again residents of Pennsylvania, this has taken an added significance. In case you haven’t heard, Punxsutawney Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter. If good old Phil lived here in Eldred, he wouldn’t have seen his shadow. By now you are probably wondering what this has to do with the presentation of Jesus. Believe it or not, there is a link between the feast that we know as “The Presentation of the Lord” or also known as “Candlemas” and Groundhog Day. Here are the two Wikipedia links if you are interested:
But enough about animals predicting the weather! Today is the 40th day after Christmas. While we know that Jesus more than likely wasn’t born on December 25 – don’t even want to get into that – Today is the 40th day after Christmas – also known as Candlemas. In some religious traditions it is the day when the Christmas decorations are put away. Two asides here – our Christmas tree is still up. The last few years, it was about this time that our kids came from Canada and we celebrated Christmas. This year it just stayed up. I suppose it’s time to take it down. Also today is our daughters due date. Her name will be Anna and if you look up Luke’s gospel account in chapter 2, you will see why. Anna is a prophet of the Lord and spent her life at the Temple. She was there when Jesus was presented to the Lord. Since Jesus was a Jewish boy and his parents wanted to bring him up in the faith, they brought him to the Lord at the Temple just like all parents would have done. This takes us to our passage in Hebrews 2:
This passage reminds us that Jesus is fully God – God of very God as the Nicene Creed declares – but is fully flesh and blood. We are reminded that only because Jesus came and died for our sins – being the perfect sacrifice – by being human (we often like to downplay Jesus humanness) that we can be free from the power of death and the fear of death. Jesus did not come to help the angels – but he came to help us – he was like us in every way – knowing what it was like – he experienced our frail human bodies. It was in this way that He became our High Priest and could offer a sacrifice of himself to take away our sins. I don’t pretend to understand all of the theology in that, but that is huge! Jesus came as a human being – Jesus who was there at the beginning and created us – came to be one of us. If Jesus cares that much to save us – the ones he created – that He would come and be one of us – wow! He has already gone through all the sufferings that we have gone through. He knows all about it. The next time you say, “God you don’t understand!” remember that God – through Jesus the Son has already experienced what you have experienced. Jesus has gone through testing and suffering and He can help us as well.