Christmas Sermon: For Our Sake Jesus Became Poor (Luke 2:21-40)

For Our Sake the Savior  Became Poor

I don’t think Luke’s point will easily be missed.  All through his Gospel are reminders that Jesus came to this world and took on flesh to seek and save the lost.  Luke is specific in his Gospel that Jesus came for all people but He especially came for the poor.

Let’s very quickly this morning run through the Book of Luke and read some of the verses that prove this point.

Jesus’ mother was poor-

Luke 1:46-48 (ESV)

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

[47] and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

[48] for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.

For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

He was born in a cow stall

Luke 2:7 (ESV)

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

He was dedicated with a poor offering

Luke 2:22-24 (ESV)

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

[23] (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”)  [24] and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

He was anointed to preach to the poor

Luke 4:18 (ESV)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

He has called the poor blessed and the rich woeful

Luke 6:20 & 24 (ESV)

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God….

[24] “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

He said it’s hard for the wealthy to be saved

Luke 18:24-25 (ESV)

Jesus, looking at him with sadness, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!  [25] For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

He called for a passionate search for the poor

Luke 14:21 (ESV)

So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’

(This section came from John Piper’s book Taste and See pages 259-260)

What Luke is highlighting through his Gospel is that Jesus came for the helpless.  He came for those who see their sin as such an insurmountable obstacle that it has rendered them helpless to stand before God.  He also indicates in his Gospel that Jesus came also for society’s misfits.

Last week we read the text from 1 Corinthians that told us why Jesus was born to a poor family in Nazareth…

2 Cor. 8:9 (ESV)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Jesus came for the poor is Luke’s point and the other point made in this text is that In these witnesses, namely Simeon and Anna, Jesus’ credentials as Messiah are confirmed.  It was the fact that the Messiah was born to a poor family that His credentials would be doubted by many.  The long awaited Messiah is not supposed to be humble and poor, many would think.

In this text of Scripture there are many important things going on.  Joseph and Mary being devout Jews and those who feared God would, as you might think, practice the Old Covenant tradition concerning purification and the temple tradition as prescribed in the Law of God written by Moses.

In this passage we’ll see the act of circumcision and the naming of the baby.  We’ll see two elderly saints testifying to the credibility of the baby.  However, Luke’s main point is that multiple godly witnesses add to the credibility that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah and Savior.

Deut. 19:15 (ESV)

“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.

What adds even more credibility is that these witnesses are godly faithful people.  These folks were part of remnant Israel.  Part of the true Israel, those waiting for God’s Messiah.

Luke 2:21-40 (ESV)

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

[22] And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

[23] (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”)  [24] and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”  [25] Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  [26] And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  [27] And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law,  [28] he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

[29] “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,

according to your word;

[30] for my eyes have seen your salvation

[31] that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

[32] a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory to your people Israel.”

[33] And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.  [34] And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed

[35] (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Luke 2:36-40 (ESV)

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin,  [37] and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.  [38] And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

[39] And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.  [40] And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

1.  The Baby Circumcised and Named

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day according to the Mosaic Law.  This act was symbolic of the covenant and of the removal of sin.  The question may arise, well if Jesus was sinless then why was He circumcised?  The short answer today is that Jesus, as the second Adam, came into the world to perfectly keep the Law of God.  This law prescribed circumcision so, Jesus’ parents made sure this command was kept.

He was also given the name that the angel gave.  You will call Him Jesus because He will save His people from their sin.  That’s what Jesus means…Savior or salvation is of the Lord.

Have you ever thought for a moment that Jesus could have been given a name that meant King, Ruler, Prophet, Priest, Law Giver, or even Eternal One.  But God wanted His Son to be named Jesus, Savior.  He wasn’t to be associated with the rich and famous but the poor and lowly.  That’s an amazing truth.  All the universe belongs to Him as Creator and of all the names contained in it, Jesus was the selected name.  Jesus is Savior.

2 Cor. 8:9 (ESV)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Are you poor in spirit today?  Do you see your need for a Savior?  The most important question you will ever ask is this, Is Jesus my Savior?  Last week we learned that that the angel said He was born for you Savior.  Is Jesus your Savior?

God is most glorified when He acts as Savior…

2.  Joseph and Mary in the Temple (2:22-24)

[22] And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

[23] (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”)  [24] and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

I really like how Luke phrases this section.  He says their purification.  This family did things together.  Joseph didn’t send his wife to worship he accompanied her with the baby.  Forty days had passed since Jesus was born and Mary needed to go to the temple for her right of purification.  This was in order to be reinstated into the worship at the temple.

For Mary, a sacrifice needed to be made.

Leviticus 12:6-8 (ESV)

” ‘And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering,  [7] and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. Then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female.  [8] And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.’ ”

Joseph and Mary didn’t bring a year old lamb to sacrifice but by God’s grace she was allowed to bring two turtledoves.  One would be sacrificed for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering and then Mary was clean and allowed into the temple to worship.

What does this tell us about Joseph and Mary?

They were poor and could not afford a lamb to sacrifice.  If, in fact, they could afford a lamb but decided to bring the turtledoves, they would not have been accepted by God.

In our lives, God gives us grace but please, we must never try to take advantage of the situation.  There is a cost involved when it comes to worship.  We must be very careful not to cheat God.  Salvation is for all people no matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white God is the God of the nations.  Whether you were rich or poor, you brought God the best you had.  Do you bring God your best?  Do you bring Him anything at all?  Do you worship God in your giving or have you somehow convinced yourself that you have God’s permission to be exempt from giving?

The fact that they offered the offering for the poor, as it was called, also meant that the wise men had not made their visit yet, because after that visit, Joseph and Mary would no longer be poor.

3.  The Old Prophets Give Way to the Messiah

Here, Luke makes a very important point.  Everything the Old Testament pointed to and waited for has been fulfilled in Christ.

A.  Simeon Sings

[25] Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  [26] And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  [27] And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law,  [28] he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

[29] “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,

according to your word;

[30] for my eyes have seen your salvation

[31] that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

[32] a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory to your people Israel.”

[33] And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.  [34] And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed

[35] (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Simeon was a man who lived in Jerusalem.  He was righteous and devout.  He was waiting for the redemption of Israel.  In other words, he waited for the Messiah.  Another thing the text says is that the Holy Spirit was upon him.  The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he saw with his own two eyes, the Savior.  What Simeon is about to say concerning Jesus is authoritative and true.

This is the fifth and final song concerning the birth of Jesus.  Mary sang, Elizabeth sang, Zechariah sang, the angels sang, and now Old Simeon breaks forth in song.

He grabs the baby arms and his old body feels young again.  He hobbled into the temple that morning and now he begins to dance around holding the baby and singing thanksgiving to God.  You see when Simeon sees Baby Jesus, he doesn’t see a baby—he sees salvation.

This salvation is for him.  God’s Word is fulfilled; he was blessed to see the Savior before he died.  His song is about God releasing him to die in peace.  By faith Simeon sings about dying in peace.

Simeon sings because he has also seen salvation granted to the Gentiles.  Now, because of Christ Gentiles can be grafted into the family tree of the Messiah.

The Old Covenant departs in peace as Jesus is born.  The Old Covenant takes the New Covenant in his arms and sings and rejoices that now God will write His law on all our hearts.

Now God’s people, Israel, will have her glory through the Messiah.  There will be a remnant that will trust in the Messiah and be saved.  Simeon is a clear example of believing Israel and so is Anna.

B. Anna Rejoices (2:36-40)

Luke 2:36-40 (ESV)

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin,  [37] and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.  [38] And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Holy Spirit uses another Old Testament figure to establish the fact that Jesus is the Messiah.  No one could bring into question the dedication and spirituality of Simeon and Anna.

When they saw Jesus they knew God’s promise had come.  The Messiah that they waited so long for was finally here.

Let’s celebrate with Joseph and Mary and let’s rejoice with Simeon and Anna that Jesus Christ Savior and Lord has come.

[31] that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

[32] a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory to your people Israel.”

Jesus has come and things will never be the same.  This Christmas may we too celebrate the birth of the Messiah.

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