Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 3 Study # 12
Thesis: The Incarnation dissolves man's "desperate need" for "wisdom".
Introduction: In our studies of Simeon's words regarding Mary's six-week-old baby, we have seen that he was pretty much focused upon this baby as the essence of God's promise of eternal life. He called Him "God's Salvation". This description immediately turns the reader's attention to two issues: man's need, and God's provision. In the biblical statement of man's "need" we find that man is enslaved to an entire complex of issues that gather under the umbrella word "Sin". In the biblical statement of God's "provision" we find that God has promised a multi-faceted deliverance from Sin that is gathered together under the umbrella promise of "Eternal Life".
In calling Jesus "God's Salvation", Simeon was putting all of the intricacies of the details of a promise of "Life" together into one Person. In effect, he was saying that Jesus would be the "Instrument of the Grace of Yahweh" that would resolve each and every detail of the bondage of man so that he could be completely free of that enslavement. So, what we have in Simeon's words is a package of unexploded dynamite. Luke's mentor, Paul, called the "Gospel of Jesus Christ" the "dynamite" of God unto salvation in Romans 1:16. His word picture is of a message that will blast the bonds which hold man under Sin into smithereens.
But, there is a problem with the word-picture in the minds of many: they think the blast of the power is supposed to be instantaneous and comprehensively immediate. Whereas, in our experience, the explosion of "dynamite" is pretty much instantaneous and its impact is as comprehensive as the power can make it, the truth about God's Salvation is that though the power is just as great (yea, vastly greater) as we conceive of dynamite's power, the impact is gradual, time-consuming, and tied to the incremental development of a renewed mind. The biblical promise does two things: it gives us hope that the end result will actually be comprehensively effective in all of the myriad of details (see Revelation 22 for the comprehensiveness of the hope); and it gives us a method called "transformation by the renewal of the mind" (see Romans 12:1-2 for the methodology of transformation).
The fact is, the promise is a power-package that is more like a bundle of extremely potent fire crackers that release their power individually at specific points along the way than it is a single piece of dynamite that releases all of its power all at once. Likewise, Simeon's words are "umbrella-like" in that they give a broad brush-stroke statement of an issue that has a multitude of parts. This morning we are going to spend our study time considering some of the parts involved in his declaration that Jesus was to be a "light of revelation to the Gentiles".
July 24, 2005
- I. Foundations We Need to Understand.
- A. Simeon's focus was upon Jesus as the baby brought to Yahweh by His parents.
- 1. This means, first, that his focus was upon the baby who came into being as Luke told us -- a miraculously produced "Son of God" Who was "the Lord incarnate"... God made human.
- 2. This means, second, that his focus was upon the specific implications of Jesus as the God made human in respect to the human "need": salvation.
- 3. This means, third, that his focus was upon the most fundamental "need" of man in respect to the salvation of God: that he "see" God in terms of what His provision of salvation by incarnation demands.
- 4. This means, fourth, that though the details of the "T"heology of incarnation-unto-salvation are many and complex, the big-ticket issue is the answer to the question: Why did God become flesh?
- 5. Since the biblical, bottom-line answer to this question is Yahweh's gracious love, this means, fifth, that man is being confronted by the claim of Yahweh that He loves him when he is presented with the Jesus-as-a-human-baby thesis.
- 6. Thus, we can conclude that Simeon was addressing man's most basic misunderstanding about God: that He is not loving, or, at least, "He doesn't love me".
- B. Simeon's understanding of the "problem" the Gentiles had as they were wrapped up in the "God doesn't love me" mindset was Paul's understanding.
- 1. Luke is the "selector" of the data to make his case.
- a. Simeon said of the Gentiles that they needed a "light of revelation".
- b. Simeon's words are in Luke's record because they "suit" Luke's desire to bring to light what those words mean.
- c. Simeon's words, then, are not just Simeon's; they are Luke's; they are Paul's; and they are God's.
- 2. Luke was the protege of Paul, who wrote his "Gospel" after many years of exposure to the "dynamite of Paul's Gospel".
- 3. Paul's Gospel included a record of how men defuse his dynamite.
- a. In 1 Corinthians 1:22 Paul gave a "blanket summary" of the two most basic problems of humanity in its relationship to the "problems" of life.
- 1) He said of the "Jewish" segment of humanity that it believed that the solution to the problems of life could only come through "signs" (an issue we probably will pursue in our next study).
- 2) He said of the "Gentile" segment of humanity that it believed that the solutions to the problems of life could only come through "wisdom".
- b. In that same text, Paul said that this "blanket summary" set both segments of humanity in opposition to Yahweh's "dynamite solution".
- 1) The "Jews" considered Paul's statement of Yahweh's solution to be "offensive"; for them the message of the Cross was a stumblingblock.
- 2) The "Gentiles" considered Paul's statement of Yahweh's solution to be "the babbling (Acts 17:18) of a mad (Acts 26:24) zealot"; for them the message of the Cross was "foolishness".
- C. Simeon's understanding of the Gentiles' "problem" was that they preferred "wisdom" over "revelation" as a defense against the "unloving" God.
- 1. All men have the same problem: How shall I address the dangerous complexity of life as a creature of a hateful God?
- 2. The "Gentiles" opted for "intellectualism" under the "dangerous God" thesis.
- a. Life is a "dangerous complexity" because the Author of Life is "dangerous" and "deceptive". This is the assumption of all men.
- b. Life's dangerous complexity can only be met by finding effective answers that will enable safety.
- c. Life's greatest danger is being shown to be a "fool"; i.e., an "incompetent" in the search for, and application of, wisdom.
- D. Simeon's understanding of God's solution to the Gentiles' "problem" was that they began on the wrong assumption and the Incarnation would provide a sufficient "light" of "revelation" to put them on the right track.
- 1. The underlying assumption of the Gentiles: God is manipulatively hateful.
- a. There can be no danger in life if God is loving.
- b. Since it is obvious that there are many dangers, God must not be loving.
- c. Therefore, it should be obvious to all that God is both hateful and manipulative.
- 2. The contrary declaration of the Incarnation: God is loving, but not simplistic.
- a. There is no danger in life if man's conception of God is that He is loving.
- 1) Romans 8:28 eliminates all true "danger".
- 2) Romans 8:32-39 eliminates every impact of every "perceived" danger.
- b. There is enormous danger in life if man's conception of God is adversarial.
- 1) The problem is "creation" reality: God cannot create God.
- a) By definition, God is uncreated.
- b) By definition, all creation is "less than God".
- c) By definition, then, man is less wise than God, less loving than God, less merciful than God, less just than God, less powerful than God, less everything than God.
- 2) The danger is in "creation of persons": "less-than-God" persons are incapable of "as wise as God" decisions unless they are rooted in sufficient revelation from God.
- a) Wisdom in a creature can only exist as a "shared" reality, with the "sharing" being from Omniscience to creatureliness.
- b) All is well if the creature does not adopt an "adversarial" attitude and decide to reject sufficient revelation.
- c) All is Hell if the creature does adopt an "adversarial" attitude and rejects sufficient revelation.
- 3. The Incarnation has no rationale under the "God is hateful" thesis and, thus, stands as a brilliant beacon of sufficient revelation for any thoughtful person.
- a. In a thoughtful world, the Incarnation would be a sufficient revelation.
- b. The Gentiles do not inhabit a thoughtful world.
- 1) The Gentiles have made "being considered foolish" the bottom line definition of death, and "being considered wise" the bottom line definition of life.
- 2) The Gentiles have made themselves foolish and, thus, dead, by their own definitions.
- a) How can anyone be thought "wise" who opposes an omnipotent deity?
- b) How can anyone be thought "wise" who will not even consider the manifest claim of Incarnation?
- E. Simeon knew that God will act as you expect Him to: Matthew 25:14-30.