Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 2 Message Outlines
Luke 2:21-39 (4)
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4 May 15, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(155)Thesis:The "presentation" of Jesus as the Firstborn is a huge umbrella concept that directly addresses the problem of uncleanness at its root: rebellion.
Introduction:We have been looking at Luke's presentation of the "presentation" of Jesus to Yahweh in Jerusalem. We have seen that "Jesus" is being presented by Luke as the Person in the midst of the Justice/Mercy conundrum so that we might understand His identity as the Savior Who brings "great joy". We have also seen that Luke is "focused" upon these twin issues: Justice is highlighted by the "uncleanness" that requires "purification". Mercy is highlighted by the "provision" for that "purification". We have seen that the root of "uncleanness" is disobedience out of rebellion. And we have seen that the root of "purification" is obedience out of faith. And, finally, we have seen that Jesus is the Only basis for any real purification because His obedience out of faith is the only obedience that is both real and complete. In the attempt to bring understanding to men, God entered into a massive program of "physical-realm illustration" that included the entire sacrificial system and the "Law" to enforce it, but it is a huge mistake to think that the "illustrations" can actually effect the reality. Man is NOT purified by the sacrifice of two birds. Rather, he is purified by the faith that God's real provision was so far above and beyond "two birds" that He actually addressed the Justice/Mercy conundrum.
This morning we are going to continue our pursuit of Luke's "presentation" by looking specifically at the "presentation" of Jesus in Jerusalem. What we want to try to understand is the divine rationale for the entire "dedication of the firstborn male" concept.
I. Luke Presents the "Presentation" as "Legal".
A. Luke clearly moves the "legal" issues beyond "Moses" by switching his terminology from "the Law of Moses" to "the Law of the Lord".
1. This is the foundation for understanding: this creation belongs to Yahweh and it stands under His dominion in an absolute sense.
a. Any compromise of this reality injects misunderstanding into the mix.
b. Any grasp of divine revelation that is not accompanied by a sense that it is absolutely true without exception also injects misunderstanding into the mix.
2. This is the root of man's problem: he is not opposed to a "human" demand; he is opposed to Yahweh Himself.
a. Uncleanness is not "about" resistance to some man's good ideas.
b. Uncleanness is "about" rebellion against God.
B. Luke also clearly moves the "legal" issues into the very heart of his presentation.
1. The issue is man's oppositional attitude toward God.
a. This is the root of death.
b. The question is whether there is any solution to it so that great joy can come.
2. The issue of the presentation of Jesus is His service to God as God's Savior of fallen humanity.
II. Luke's Presentation Requires an Understanding of "the Presentation".
A. It's roots are in Exodus 13:2, 12.
1. There the consecration of the firstfruits of the womb is required.
2. There the focus upon the male firstborn is established.
B. It's significance rests upon the "illustrative impact" of the consecration of the sons who are firstborns.
1. The first issue here is the entire concept of "consecration".
a. The "presentation" was not a "dedication of the parents to the proper upbringing of the child".
b. The presentation was a "sacrifice" of the child to the will of Yahweh.
1) In the "beast" realm of this "sacrifice of the firstborn", the animal was slain.
a) By this was signified the absolute loss of the animal to the man's personal agenda(s) of life.
b) The "illustrative value" of the death of the animal was the irreversible realization that this "firstborn" is not "mine" to direct for "my" objectives.
2) That the children were not slain, but "redeemed", was not supposed to diminish the grasp of "total hands off in terms of your desires"...but, it did.
a) It was supposed to permit the child to live to serve Yahweh's will.
b) But it was twisted into the rather ungodly, but typical, idea of redemption that men, even now, continue to promote: I am redeemed so I won't face judgment; not so I can pursue my reconciled relationship with Yahweh.
c) My "redeemed" firstborn is now really "mine" to press into the service of "my" agenda.
2. The second issue here is the focus upon "firstborns".
a. It is interesting to note how Exodus 13 flows.
1) God tells Moses to set the firstborns aside to Him.
2) Moses tells the people to focus upon the foundations of Passover.
a) The "connection" here is that the firstborns of Egypt were slain sothat Israel could be set free to serve Yahweh. [There was no notion that Israel's "freedom" from Egypt was a freedom to self-interest.]
b) The "Passover" was distinctly tied, in the development of divine revelation, to the Ultimate Passover (that would genuinely set slaves of sin free to serve Yahweh) in which a Firstborn Son would be sacrificed in death.
b. The question is this: What did the sacrifice of the firstborns really mean?
1) First, the issue of "firstborns" is the issue of "primacy of love". [Note Jacob's "split" focus upon firstborns -- Reuben from Leah and Joseph from Rachel]. There is a significantly diminished meaning in John 3:16 without this "primacy of love" thesis.
2) Second, the issue of "firstborns", like "firstfruits", was not a "this one belongs to God, but the rest belongs to me".
a) Men have almost invariably moved in the direction of rebellion: God has His agenda, but I have mine.
b) Men, in their desire to appear "submissive", have almost invariably moved in the direction of hypocrisy: I will give God His due, but the rest is mine.
3) Third, the divine intention was to highlight the issue of true loyalty: you will dedicate your most-beloved as an indicator that YOU are dedicated to ME.
a) This would signal a "if my most-beloved is dedicated to the will of God, so are all the rest also".
b) This would signal a concept of redemption that says: I so appreciate God's deliverance of me from Death that I am totally committed to Him in Life.
III. Luke's Presentation is of Jesus as the Totally Loyal Man.
A. In Luke's theology, Adam was the Disloyal Man who introduced Sin and Death.
B. In Luke's theology, Jesus is the Loyal Man Who brings Righteousness and Life.
C. In Luke's theology, only the true volunteerism of the heart that is changed by the faith of Jesus is of any positive value in this world.