Posts Tagged ‘Gentiles’

Luke 2:25-35 — Simeon’s Song. There are several things we must understand about this passage that are significant to our faith. First, today, let us not forget where this meeting between Simeon and Jesus’ parents takes place. Second, Wednesday, we will think on Simeon’s Song itself, Finally, on Thursday, we must consider Simeon’s warning to Mary.

First, let’s think on where this meeting took place. We must remember that in the Temple, there was progressively restrictive access to the inner parts of the Temple. First, there was the Court of the Gentiles, where God-fearing non-Jews could worship the Lord. Next, there was the Court of Women. Jewish women could proceed past the Court of the Gentiles into the Court of Women where they could worship the Lord. Finally, past that point, only Jewish men could pass into the Court of Israel. It and was part of the sacred inner court of the Temple. It was a rectangular area that was just inside the eastern wall of the sacred Temple court. It covered half the area from the eastern wall and the Great Altar, and it was slightly lower in elevation than the Priest’s Court to its west, where the offerings were made.

It is significant that this meeting occurred at the Temple. It was where God’s presence dwelled. Three parts of the Trinity come together here. God, the Father, is in His dwelling place. God, the Son, is being brought to the center of worship. Jesus was always obedient to the Father throughout His life on earth. In His earthly function as the Son, He is always seeking to please the Father. Here, we see Him being brought to the Father to be dedicated to His service to the Father. The Holy Spirit was upon Simeon and reveals to him that He is in the presence of the Son. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the other two parts of the Trinity, the Father and the Son. Here, as in Jesus’ baptism, we see the convergence of the three parts of the Trinity. Thus, this is a significant event. Jesus’ parents are bringing Him to dedicate Him, as the firstborn son, to God’s service as any Jewish firstborn male had done by any righteousness-seeking parents would do. As Jesus would later state, He came to fulfill the law not abolish it. He was the fulfillment of the law. He was the culmination of the law. The law points us toward Him and our need for Him. It is the beauty that He observed the very same law of which He was the fulfillment. This moment, thus, is so significant that all three parts of the Trinity are present. All of this sounds pretty high brow theological doesn’t it? It is in a way. But what does it mean to us? Let us remember that from birth Jesus was dedicated to God’s glory. You repeatedly see throughout the gospels that Jesus’ main aim in everything He did was to glorify God. His earthly parents were righteous people were obedient to the Lord because they wanted the same thing – to glorify the Lord. For us, let us model this Holy Family’s ideal. Let us measure everything we do by whether it brings glory to the Lord. May we seek to be in His presence, in His will always. Just as Mary and Joseph are in the presence of the Trinity at this moment, may we seek the same by seeking to honor God in everything we do. Mary & Joseph were devout in keeping the Word of God at the center and as the reason for their actions. Let us be the same and it is there that we will find the presence of the Lord.

Not only should we notice that this meeting took place in the Temple but we must notice where in the Temple this meeting takes place. The fact that Mary is still in the scene is significant. She was not allowed in the inner part of the Temple. She was a woman. She would have had to stop in the Court of Women. It should not be lost on us where this meeting takes place then. Mary is still present. This means that this meeting either took place in the Court of the Gentile or at the farthest in the Court of Women. This, to me, is the signal to the readers of Luke that Jesus was not here just for the pious Jewish man. He was here for all people including women. Luke’s gospel often stresses the importance of women in Jesus’ ministry and the fact that Jesus was here for the Gentiles as much as the Jews. Jesus is not exclusive. He is for all. Jews, Gentiles, women, men. He is accessible and available to all. He offers salvation to all, not just those who have certain pedigrees or gender. He is here for the entire world. You don’t have to be born the child of a church member. You don’t have to born in a certain part of town. You don’t have to be a member of a country club. There is no one more deserving than another of God’s grace given us in the person of Jesus Christ. He is in the inner Temple. He is in the Court of Women. He is in the Court of the Gentiles. He is the Savior of the World.

Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Blessed Trinity. We seek Your presence Lord. Help us to glorify you by obeying your Word, by seeking to please you in everything that we do, by seeking your presence in our lives. In so doing may we learn that no matter who we are or what we have done, You gave us grace in in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the Savior of the World. All we have to do is seek Him, want Him to rule over our lives, and seek to please Him in everything we do just as when He was here on earth that He sought daily to be an obedient Son. May we remember too that the grace we enjoy is grace for all so that we will share the Good News with all. Jesus came for us all. Amen.

Romans 16:1-16 — After reading through the list of names in Paul’s greetings to the church at Rome, it strikes you that the early church was diverse and it was mobile.

The list of names includes Roman names, Greek names, Jews and Gentiles. It includes men and women. It includes prisoners and prominent citizens. It reveals that the church’s base was broad. It crossed cultural, social and economic lines. This is what the church should be. It should not matter where you live, what you look like, how much money you make, or the color of your skin. The thing that matters is that we all believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Too often in the church now, we segregate ourselves by economic lines, racial lines, etc. Our churches are mainly people just like us. Yes, there are many large churches that are culturally and racially diverse, but there are far too many mid-size to small churches that are not. We should be welcoming to all believers who walk through our doors and make them feel comfortable and accepted. The only qualification for acceptance in our pews should be that we are all seeking Jesus. Although LifeSong may not be as culturally and racially as diverse as we could be, our church is a collection of young in their walk believers and believers who have been away from church because of past hurts. As a result there is a general sense of acceptance to anyone who walks through our doors. The general sense we have at our church is that we are simply thankful to not be living our old lives and because of that we simply have no time for the old games. There are no stares or quiet whispers when someone new walks through our doors. This is church as it should be.

The list of names also make recognize that Paul apparently already knew a good many people from the church at Rome. How did this happen if he had desired to come to Rome but had not yet been there. The answer is that the church at Rome, much like all of the early churches, was mobile. Everyone was a missionary. Paul would meet these people in other places where the church was being planted. All of the early church was eager to get out and help the church along wherever the help was needed. These early Christians would go anywhere anytime to spread the gospel. They were willing to go to prison for it. They were willing to die for it. What if we had these sensibilities today. Many today use the excuse that they have jobs in the real world and thus what they can do is limited, very limited. Didn’t people have to work back in the first century? Well, of course they did. However, they made the advance of the church the single most important priority. They measured their employment options by how it would affect their ability to participate in the mission of the church. Last night, I was sitting in the upper deck of Clemson’s football stadium watching the Tigers play along with 80,031 of my friends. It struck me that we make priorities out the things we WANT to make priorities out of. What if we had the passion for the church’s mission that we Tiger fans have for our beloved Clemson Tigers. Clemson fans are some of the most passionate and most willing to travel fans in college football. Last week, Clemson was well represented at the Boston College game – the longest road trip that the Tigers have every other year. What if we were just as willing to travel far and wide to spread the gospel with that same passion and loyalty. What if we were willing to make the same sacrifices for the church’s worldwide mission that we are willing to make to follow our Tigers. May we be as passionate with our LifeSong Church t-shirt on as we are when we have our Clemson t-shirts on. May be be as passionate to post on Christian blog boards as we are to post our passionate feelings on our Clemson blog boards. The early church was mobile, passionate, and willing. This is the hope we have for our church in today’s world. May we be a church that is willing to do whatever it takes, go wherever we need to go, to help the spread of the gospel.

Father, help us to remember that the only thing that matters about membership in the fellowship of saints is that we are seeking Jesus Christ. No other qualifications matter. Help us to also remember that we should be passionate about this fact, seeking Jesus and making His name known. We should be willing to go anywhere and do anything to make His name famous. May we do it with all our passion. May there be no sacrifice that we consider too great to make this happen. Jesus thought that we worth no sacrifice too great. Let us repay Him with the same mindset. Amen.