Mary’s Soul Will Be Pierced, Sermon 12/28/14


Mary’s soul will be pierced

Luke 2.22-40

Grace mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ,

Imagine, a 15 year-old girl in first century Palestine with the anglicized name, Mary. Her familydoesn’t have a bunch of money; she walks through the market and sees mirrors made in Egypt. She has the same stresses as other girls her age; she looks at her reflection and asks her-self, “Does my nose look right? Are my hips too big? And don’t even get me started on my acne.” Most likely she is illiterate, but she has been to synagogue enough time to have Isiah 7.14 memorized, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Like her friends, she hopes that she will be the one that bears the Messiah. Her people have been under Roman control for years, the idea of being the virgin spoken of, is very exciting. Like so many other girls her age, she saves herself for marriage. Then it happens, the Angel Gabriel comes and says that she has found favor with God; and announces that she will be the women that will give birth to the long awaited Messiah. After nine months of pregnancy, Mary has to travel to Bethlehem; the distance between Arlington and Beliot. Of course being that far along in her pregnancy she can’t walk that distance, so she rides a donkey. When she gets to the city,it is full of travelers and there is no room in the local hotel, so shehas to stay in a cave. While in the cave, she goes into labor and has to give birth, alone.

Soon after giving birth, shepherds come in from the fields and say an angel came to them to announce the birth of her son. So now she has confirmation that the all this trouble is worth it, she has given birth to the Savior of her people. Not too much later, wise men, astrologers come from far away to see this child. They tell her they had seen signs in thestars telling them that her child is the King of the Jews. These men leave gifts for this newborn king. Now there are three separate confirmations, this is the long awaited savior, the one that was promised to Adam and Eve. To fulfill the Torah, the books of Moses they have thisnewborn son circumcised. She waits thirty-three days before she go to the temple, because that is how long the law says it takes to purify after giving birth. So on the 40th day, her and the child’s adopted father take their son and present him at the temple. The custom at the time was to take the first-born boy babies and present them for service to the Lord. Because the Levites were to be the priest, and she was not a Levite, she redeems her son by paying a small fee. This is done to remind the people of the original Passover while the Jews were in slavery in Egypt. According to the law, her little family has to make a sacrifice for the birth of this child. Normally the sacrifice would be a year old lamb, but that is too much to pay so they settle for the cheapest minimum sacrifice two pigeons. As we are told in 2 Corinthians, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” Mary, Josef and the new born baby Jesus are in the Temple, the place that is understood to be the where the “Presence of the Lord” is located. Most likely, there are a number of families there to present babies to the Lord. For some inexplicable reason Simeon, a man of God, picks her and her baby out and walks over.

Simeon takes this baby; the one that shehas been told three different times is the Messiah, in his arms. He looks down at him and says, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” She beams over this event, Just like Zechariah marveled at the coming of his own son, John the Baptist. Holding her baby, he said he sees salvation; her baby is God incarnate right now. When he says, “see” what it means is he has the understanding that this child is God. Angels, shepherds, wise men, have visited both Mary and Josefand now Simeon, a man of God has confirmed it, and she has given birth to the Savior.

Simeon said that the baby will be a “Light” to the Gentiles. What does this mean? This Jesus will show the gentiles that they are sinners. The Jews were fully aware of the fact that they were sinners, the Gentiles needed to know that they have broken God’s laws too. When someone realizes they sin, they realize they need a Savior. That is the other thing that Jesus brings to the gentiles, salvation. The message of God is that Jesus saves all people everywhere. It doesn’t matter male, female, Jew or Gentile, salvation is found in Jesus and him alone. The gift of faith in Jesus as lord and savior will be brought to gentile, us, through Him.

After Simeon says these wonderful comforting words, he goes on we read, “And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”At this point her head must be spinning, the questions race through her mind at lightning speed; she can’t believe her ears. “Why would anyone speak against him? Didn’t you just say ‘He is the savior of Israel’?” People will speak against him because he doesn’t meet the human expectations of the Messiah. That happens today, people talk against Jesus because he talks against their favorite sin. People choose to deny the Messiah rather than agree with him, that we are sinners in need of salvation. Jesus was a stumbling block for those in the first century, and it is for us today.

There is no more divisive word in the world as the name “Jesus.” There are people today, which are being tortured, raped and murdered by Isis and others for confessing Jesus as Lord and savior. This time of year the courts are filled with lawsuits, people suing because the name Jesus is associated with Christmas. Public schools in this country cannot sing any Christmas songs that talk about the Savior of all mankind. Stores will say “Happy Holidays” in an effort to avoid the stumbling block of saying “Merry Christmas.” Families split, over the confession of Jesus. As Simeon said, Jesus will be a stumbling block for many. This time of year the internet is full of stories questioning even the very existence of Jesus Christ. The devil uses the idea that people can’t find the evidence they want to in the way they want, so they can say he never existed. Their arguments are childish and do have intellectual integrity but they do reveal one thing, He is a stumbling block to many. If you admit there was a savior, obviously there is something you need to be saved from.

Then there was that one thing Simeon said that must have just sent Mary reeling; “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also”. The sword here has been described as the large type that Goliath held as taunted the young shepherd soon to be King David. This young girl has gone through all these trials, been comforted by many people telling her that her newborn baby is the long awaited savior. Now, she is being told, her soul is going to be pierced with a giant double-edged sword. How, will her soul be stabbed? Later in the book of Luke, Mary and Jesus’s brothers and sisters come to see him. They can’tget close to him and someone says, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” Jesus answers them saying, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” Jesus is saying that his birth family is not his real family, those of us that have faith in him are his family. Here Jesus is separating people just as Simeon had predicted. In Ephesians tells us that the word of God can be compared to a sword, when it says, “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Jesus and the word of God reveal’s our hearts.

Then a 105 year-old woman Anna, comes up to Mary and gave thanks to the Lord for sending the Savior for all of those that looked for the Salvation of Israel. At the point of redemption of Jerusalem, the redemption of Israel, the redemption of the Gentiles, the redemption of Mary and your redemption all comes at the same time; when Mary’s soul is truly pierced. It has been said, “Parents shouldn’t outlive their children”; as a mother seeing her son killed, that would pierce her soul. Salvation was earned when Mary’s soul was pierced. The Savior, God incarnate, allowed himself to be killed by sinful men inorder to redeem us from the punishment for our sins.

When Jesus was executed on the cross, the law was fulfilled. Joseph made sure that the law was fulfilled at time of Jesus birth. It was his job to have him circumcised at the right time, have Mary purify herself, present the first-born male child at the temple and provide a sacrifice; all this to follow the law. Jesus was put on the cross inorder to fulfil the law for us. Romans 6 tells us,”For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Jesus was the only person born without sin, he took our sin for us and paid the price for the, His own death. Scripture tells us everyone needs a savior, no one can do it on their own. Joseph, Mary, Anna, Simeon and you; are all sinners and in need of a savior. That is why he came, as Simeon said to God, “for my eyes have seen your salvation”. When we look to Jesus, we see salvation too.

In the name of the baby that fulfilled the law for us.