Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 3 Study # 8
26 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,
28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
1901 ASV Translation:
26 And it had been revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should 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, that they might do concerning him after the custom of the law,
28 then he received him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Textual Issues: In 2:26 the text of the Nestle/Aland 26 has an untranslated particle that is not found in the text of the Textus Receptus. In 2:28 the text of the Textus Receptus has the word "his" which the Nestle/Aland 26 does not have.
June 26, 2005
- I. Luke's Emphasis Upon the Holy Spirit's Activity [see notes for 06/05 <161>].
- II. Luke's Emphasis Upon the Particular Content of the Spirit's Revelation.
- A. The big-ticket issue: the identification of Jesus as the Lord's Christ.
- 1. This is the reason for the inclusion of the record regarding Simeon.
- 2. As Luke unveils the details of the events for Theophilus, the one thing that he wants to be sure of at this point is that Theophilus understands that Jesus was identified as a baby at the point of His presentation to the Lord as the "Lord's Christ".
- B. The questions that arise...
- 1. Since neither Joseph, nor Mary, had any "reasonable" basis for believing Simeon, they were being subjected to the ministry of the Spirit "beyond reason". What is the point?
- a. If Simeon had been convinced by the Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ, and he was convinced by that same Spirit that the baby he was seeing was, in fact, the Lord's Christ, why did not the Spirit simply dispense with the "procedures" and convince Joseph and Mary that Jesus was the Lord's Christ? And, not only Joseph and Mary, but all of the rest of the elect of God?
- 1) Mary had already been told by Gabriel that Jesus was the Lord's Christ.
- 2) Joseph had already been told by an angel that Jesus was "of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20).
- 3) Both of them had already experienced the shepherds' behavior and witness that they had been told that Jesus was the Christ.
- 4) Thus, Simeon's words were added information of the same kind...i.e., additional input of the same truth(s) -- without any significant attendant event(s) like Mary's experience with Gabriel and the shepherds' experience of the heavenly host. In other words, Simeon's words had the least to commend them to the hearers as truth, but were added on top of already-given revelation. However, the bottom line for "hearers of the truth" is that "hearing" is about all that most people get. Those who "experience" a phenomenal event have their "experience" as a goad to faith; the rest simply have their testimony...and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
- b. The "point" seems to be this: the Spirit of God does both as much as, and as little as, is necessary to get the will of the Father accomplished.
- 2. Since Mary, Joseph, Simeon, and everyone in the temple (priests, worshippers, and on-lookers) were involved in this story, with whom would Luke have us identify?
- a. Should we identify with Simeon, the recipient of special, divine, particular revelation so that we go about our daily lives seeking to have the same kind of experience?
- b. Should we identify with Joseph who had the witness of Mary as to how she had become pregnant and the "proof" of a "dream" and the witness of the shepherds?
- c. Should we identify with Mary who had the personal confrontation of Gabriel, the unquestionable pregnancy without sex with a man, the experiences of the time in Zacharias' home with Elizabeth, and the witness of the shepherds? It was, after all, Luke's claim that it was "Mary" (2:19) that kept these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 8:18-21 raises serious questions about this entire issue. In that context Jesus warns about "how one hears" because one's life will be directly affected afterwards by "how one heard", and then Mary and the brethren of Jesus are lumped together and "rejected" by Jesus.
- d. Or should we identify with the folks in the temple that day? They had only their prior knowledge of Simeon and Anna to give impetus to the words they heard.
- e. It is probable that Luke didn't want Theophilus to "identify" with anyone in his story: he wanted Theophilus to plug into the divine process for himself.
- 3. What is the divine process?
- a. The common "bottom line" in everyone's experience is the communication by God of true information that will, if believed, enhance and deepen one's experience of the life of God and that will, if rejected, harden and make more shallow one's experience of the life of God.
- b. The teaching of Jesus is that "every word" that proceeds from the mouth of God is a life-imparting tool and, therefore, should be seen as such.
- c. The common "bottom line" in everyone's experience is the reception of words from God that are known to be from God. Then, the next most common "bottom line" is the presence of the preserved record of the life-imparting words of God...i.e., the Bible. Without it, there is no "standard" by which one can measure the thoughts and concepts that arise in one's mind to determine whether they are from God or not. Even with it, the problems are significant as Luke 8:18-21 clearly shows.
- 1) This is the problematical area: if God "convinces" people that He is the one who is "speaking" before they get into the whole process of learning and becoming discerning, why does He not continue that function at the same level of persuasion and with the same level of immediacy? What is the point of the insistence upon getting into the process of learning and becoming discerning?
- 2) On any given day, in any given text, a person who is interacting with the Bible has no way to determine "meaning" infallibly. So, the "bottom line" becomes an "educated guess" that is no better, or worse, than the "education" that is behind the "guess". The result is that the "believer" is without any certainty on the basis of his "education". It is still the ministry of the Spirit that gives impetus to the life.
- 3) The Bible teaches two things clearly: (a) that men are to pursue both knowledge and wisdom with great diligence; and (b) that men are to be as sure as they can be that they wish to know the Truth when involved in that pursuit.
- 4) At issue is a "relationship" between two persons who have been seriously alienated and are involved in becoming "one" in both goals and methods. The two persons are separated by the fact that One of them is Omniscient and the other is both finite and ignorant. The analogy of a newborn growing into a mature elder is fitting for this entire process: the newborn has many things done for it as it is gradually learning to handle those things for itself. In the end, the mature elder is "handling" things pretty much as a matter of course and does not need to be treated as a newborn. It is, apparently, God's intent to nurture people into becoming "capable through trust" so that they are able to "handle" the complexities of Life without failing to apply truth to their situations. The issue at the root of this process is knowing and believing truth. The process of God is to gradually extend the knowledge and faith of His people so that they become "believing" of more and more of what is true.
- d. Thus, the divine process is to "reveal" truth and then "motivate" the participants in His creation to submit themselves to that truth so that it can worm its way deeply into their hearts and minds. When the truth and the motivation are absent, one can tell that it is God's intent to judge and not save. When the truth and the motivation are present, one can tell that it is God's intent to deliver into Life.