Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part VII: Christianity's Validity Via Predictions Of Christ's Sufferings When He Was But A Baby
(Luke 2:21-38)
  1. Introduction
    1. There is a belief in religious circles that if you are suffering, something about you is wrong, for only blessing should accompany those who are upright in heart.
    2. The problem with that belief is that it counters what happened in Christ's earthly life. He was a despised Messiah Who was crucified by his own religious leaders. Unbelievers might thus assume that Christianity's proclaiming a suffering Messiah is but a cover-up for Jesus' carnal rebellion against the religious leaders!
    3. Luke's Gospel shows how suffering was part of the plan of God for the true Messiah, and he does so to certify evidences of Jesus' Messianic credentials long before Jesus could have come into conflict with the religious authoritie s. This fact provides an interesting lesson on persecution that happens to the believer:
  2. Christianity's Validity Via Forecasts Of Christ's Sufferings When He Was But A Baby, Lk. 2:21-38.
    1. Luke's burden in writing his Gospel was to certify to Theophilus the validity of the Christian faith, 1:4.
    2. One of the hurdles to accepting Christ's suffering as part of Messiah's experiences was that such suffering on a cross and death were not expected by the Hebrew people. Accordingly, accepting that suffering took some explaining, and r emained a tension against proving Christianity to be a valid faith.
    3. In writing his Gospel, Luke thus certified the validity of Christ's sufferings that were made by the witnesses of godly Old Testament saints long before Jesus could humanly have aroused hatred from the authorities:
      1. Almost six weeks after Jesus' birth, before He could humanly come into theological conflict with anybody, Jesus was taken by Joseph and Mary to the temple in accord with Mosaic Law for purification rites, Luke 2:21-24 with Ryrie Study Bible, KJV ftn. to 2:22.
      2. While there, a very godly, aged and thus culturally respected man named Simeon met them. He was told of the Lord that he would not die before seeing the Messiah, Luke 2:25-26, 27a,b.
      3. Apparently signaled by the Spirit that the infant in Mary's arms was Messiah, this very respected, godly man took up Jesus in his arms and gave the revealing statement we have in verses 29-35 as follows:
        1. Simeon blessed the Lord, saying that he could depart this life in peace as he had seen the salvation of the Lord in the Messiah's arrival in accord with the Lord's promise, Luke 2:28-30.
        2. He added that Jesus would minister not only to the Jew, but also to all of the Gentiles, Luke 2:31-32, with Bib. Kno. Com., N.T., p. 209. Jesus' parents marveled at the prediction of world ministry, 33.
        3. While marveling at this worldwide ministry prediction of her infant, Mary was told by Simeon that this ministry would come with an enormous price of suffering: (a) Jesus would produce the spiritual rising and falling of many in Israel, v. 34a. (b) As a result, He would be spoken against, opposed in hatred and rejecti on, v. 34b. (c) The ferocity of rejection of Christ would be so unleashed against Him that even Mary would suffer anguish as Simeon predicted "Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also." (v. 35a) This was all necessary in His coming ministry of exposing sin, 2:35b.
      4. Lest one think Simeon erred in his predictions, God used a second credible witness to certify his words:
        1. At that moment, a very aged, godly widow named Anna, a recognized prophetess, was led of God to arrive at that moment and she also independently certified Jesus to be the Messiah, Luke 2:36-38.
        2. Thus, according to the Law, two witnesses here certified that Jesus would necessarily be the Messiah, and that helped certify Simeon's statement of His suffering ministry was valid. (Dt. 19:15b)
      5. So before Jesus could humanly do anything about it, it was settled by Old Testament certification that He would suffer! Thus, the suffering Savior of Christendom is not a bogus belief, but a true one!
Lesson: The Old Testament-certified witnesses of Simeon and Anna revealed that Jesus would need to suffer due to the sharp conflict his revealing ministry would have in exposing sin. Thus, the Christian faith that sets forth a suffering Savior is not a bogus cover-up for alleged carnal personality conflicts between Jesus and the religious detractors, but the truth about a holy Savior in conflict with sinners.

Application: Likewise, suffering by Christians at the hands of persecutors is not necessarily due to their having sinful personality conflicts, but it is often due to their righteousness, cf. Jn. 15:18-27.