Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 2 Message Outlines
Luke 2:21-39 (13)
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 3 Study # 13 July 31, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(173)Thesis:The Incarnation establishes the nature of the "glory" extended to men.
Introduction:Last week we dived into a consideration of what Simeon's statement about the significance of Jesus in respect to the Gentiles meant. When the dust cleared (pardon the mixed metaphor of diving into the dust), we concluded that the incarnation confronted the attitude of the Gentiles toward God about whether He is a God of Love or not. Simeon said that the Incarnate Son of God was a "light" which gave true divine insight through "revelation" to a people who were trying to take refuge in "wisdom" from a hateful god (a most "foolish" effort). The incarnation not only demonstrated the superiority of omnipotence over finite man's greatest abilities, but it proved that there was no basis for the "hateful god" thesis and, thus, undercut the antagonism of the Gentiles toward Him.
This morning we are going to take a serious look at Simeon's other statement: the one about the significance of Jesus in respect to Israel. He said that Jesus, prepared by God according to the standard of the countenance of all people, was Israel's "glory". What does that mean?
I. Simeon's Larger Context Regarding Israel (1 Corinthians 1:22).
A. For God...Simeon...Paul...Luke...Theophilus, the "Gentile" problem was a fixation on how to best escape the predatory actions of a hateful god. The best answer they could come up with was "wisdom".
B. For the same group, the "Jewish" problem was a fixation on how to best capitalize upon the status given by a God of special favorites. The best answer they could come up with was "signs".
1. The issue of "signs" for the Jews was one issue: proving the legitimacy of a claim.
a. For the Jews, "the proof of the pudding was in the eating".
1) They didn't care about the convoluted reasonings of the "wise" for one reason: the bottom line, which was not whether one could reason his way to some kind of satisfactory mental conclusion, but whether one could put his feet up on the edge of the Chairman of the Board's desk in the penthouse suite on the top floor of the highest office building in the world.
2) They knew that what really mattered was not whether one "ought" to be able to "kick back in the top dog's place" (the "ought" business is the reasonings of the "wise"), but whether one "got" to.
b. In that context, "signs" were the powerful works of God which put His "favored" in the place of blessing.
1) This meant that "promise" (the making of the "claim") was validated by a "sign".
2) This turned into "any action of power that puts me in the favored slot is a 'work of God' and needs to be accepted as such by everyone".
2. There is a huge problem here: Revelation 13:13.
3. There is a significant tension introduced by the problem: if "signs" can actually be sponsored by the devil, how can John argue on the basis of seven "signs" that Jesus is the Christ?
a. As usual, everything is in the definitions.
b. What is a sign in respect to its identity as a means to an end?
II. Simeon's Argument.
A. First, he uses the "glory" word.
1. A twisted form of the issue of "getting the glory" had, by Simeon's day, become theologically acceptable.
a. The Jews were marked by lust for recognition by men withoutqualms. They used both "signs" and "election" to promote themselves as the "beloved of God" so that they could be "superior" to others so that they could set the agenda.
b. When "getting the glory" means obtaining the means to compel others to submit to a self-centered agenda, and this meaning has been baptized into "T"heology so that a person can make it his goal to be superior to his fellows without qualms, the most perverse distortion of the Truth has been accomplished.
2. The issue of "getting the glory" had, by Simeon's day, become the unyielding steel core of Jewish theology.
a. It was the root of the "salvation by works" perversion of the Word of God as those would "get the glory" who "proved their abilities".
b. It was the cause of all of the in-fighting that invariably goes on when people are jockeying for the highest positions of privilege (Mark 10:41).
c. It was the root cause of the crucifixion of Jesus (Mark 15:10).
3. But Simeon's meaning for "glory" was transparently contrary to the accepted theology of the Israel of his day (we'll come back to this).
B. Second, he uses the "Thy people" terminology.
1. The "Thy people" terminology is rooted in the doctrine of "election".
2. The doctrine of "election" was firmly established by 1500 years of special divine favor upon Israel.
3. For the Jews, "election" meant "God loves us more than He loves you".
a. This was simply a variation of the "glory" thesis: we are more important than you are.
b. When this variation is rooted in the perversity of performance theology ("I am one of the elect because I have obeyed the divine imperatives"), the most perverse distortion of the Truth has been accomplished.
4. But Simeon's meaning of "Thy people" was transparently contrary to the accepted theology of the Israel of his day.
C. Third, as a clarification of what both "glory" and "election" mean, he says that Jesus is Israel's glory.
1. The "Jesus" of whom he speaks is the infant of Mary of Nazareth in Galilee who can not even afford a lamb for her sacrifices...i.e., His recognition is not in the eyes of men, nor on the basis by which men determine what is "glorious".
2. The "Jesus" of whom he speaks is the virgin born Son of God.
a. He is NOT "of Israel", the man...He is virgin born.
b. He IS the greatest "sign" of all time, but not in the typical sense of the term.
1) For the Jews, a "sign" was an act of power that proved they were "right" and, as such proof, put them in the driver's seat.
2) For God, a "sign" was an act of power that made it possible for the one(s) who believed the Truth it signified to plug into the Kingdom of God.
a) At this point the specific identity of the Kingdom of God becomes absolutely crucial because every definition of every word used to clarify it will be tainted by its essential identity.
b) The Kingdom of God is a Servant-Kingdom which knows no acceptability for the "be-served" mentality (the "I get to sit in the penthouse suite" mindset). Mark 10:45 absolutely rejects that mindset.
c) This means that Mary's baby is not about the "glory" and the "election" of people who are still wrapped up in the "I just want someone to love me" whining of the wicked.
D. Thus, Simeon says the Incarnate God is Israel's "glory" as the "elect of God".
1. This means that "election" is unto "servanthood", not dominion...i.e., it is not about being "more important than..." (what does John 3:16 say about Jesus' election and value?).
2. This means the "glory" is the "privilege of being useful to God" as a willing servant, not "the privilege of pampering by God as spoiled children".
III. The Point.
A. Jesus, as the Incarnation of God, is Israel's most significant contribution to the plan of God as an instrument of the power of God as He used Israel to produce the Agent of Salvation. This is "glory" -- to be useful to God in His plans.
B. Jesus, as the Incarnation of God, is the Gentiles' means of blessedness as the "Elect" of God, chosen, like Israel, to be an instrument for their salvation. As long as "election" is seen to be a choice by God to make a person into one of His agents of blessing for others and not a choice to make a person a prima donna, one participates in "the glory".