I'm sure I don't have to remind anybody here this morning that Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation of Christ.
In fact, the celebration of the day of his birth, which was an exact day in history when a child was born to a mother called Mary. We don't know, of course, the exact day. We don't know if December 25 is the correct date or not. Some are certain that it could not be. Others think that it very well may be, and I don't have time to go into all of that right now.
But it's obvious that the Bible does not give us an exact date, but it's also obvious that there was one. I'm told that I was born on April 28 in 1948. The only way I know that is because of things that other people have told me in documentation that has been given to me.
I was there, but I don't remember. And the proof that I was born is not that I have a document. It is a birth certificate that says I was born.
This is the proof. I was born. Whether the documentation is correct or not, my existence is the evidence that a birth occurred. And likewise with Jesus Christ. We don't know the exact date when he was born, but he was born on a specific day in time and history, and it was the most momentous day in all of history. And so we celebrate the incarnation of Christ on this particular day.
But it is more than simply celebrating a particular day, Christmas Day, a day of birth. But it is also a time to think about the whole childhood of this one who was born. And rightfully, therefore, we look backwards to the miraculous virgin conception nine months prior to his birth.
In fact, we can even go back further than that in Luke's account to the surprising birth of John the Baptist to Elizabeth and Zacharias, who had been unable to have children and how that prepared the way for the coming of Christ and so forth. And we also, if we're paying careful attention to the Bible, look beyond the birth of Christ to a number of events that took place in his childhood, his presentation in the temple, the visit of the Magi who came to Jerusalem looking for him, the flight of his family into Egypt, and his relocation to the town of Nazareth in Galilee. And every one of these events tell us something about who this child is and why he came. And so today we take up in the Gospel of Luke, where we left off last Lord's Day, as we examine two elements from the childhood of Jesus Christ.
We could call them, number one, his infancy concluded in verses 36 through 38, and number two, his childhood recorded in verses 39 and 40. His infancy concluded has to do with a second prophetic confirmation of his identity and the fulfillment of the promises of God and his coming. Last Lord's Day, we looked at the prophecy of Simeon, this one that God had prepared to wait for and to recognize the birth of the Messiah when he came. This one who had been told by God that he would not die until he with his own eyes had seen the promised Messiah.
And when Mary and Joseph brought that child into the temple to present him to the Lord, the firstborn male child born to Mary, according to the law of God, that he might be redeemed, Simeon was there by the appointment of God. And he spoke a prophecy that tells those who were within earshot, certainly, and the temple was a busy place with a lot of people coming and going all the time. And he told to those who were there that this indeed is the fulfillment. This one fulfills the prophecies about a coming Messiah that had been made hundreds of years before and repeated many times down through the centuries. But now we have a second prophetic confirmation in Luke 2 36 and following by a prophetess by the name of Anna. Now there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Nathaniel of the tribe of Asher.
She was of a great age and had lived with a husband seven years before her virginity. And this woman was a widow of about 84 years who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant, she gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
A second prophetic confirmation. And who was it that God used to accomplish that purpose? It was a woman, a prophetess, we are told by the name of Anna. Anna is the Greek form of the Old Testament Hannah.
And it means grace. And she is designated as a prophetess, that is a female prophet. A prophet, of course, is one who receives divine revelation and declares it to others. And we have many, many, many prophets that are named in the scriptures and hundreds others that we know of that are only referred to generally without a specific name to identify them. There are only a handful of prophetesses in the Bible that is female prophets, but there are several. There is Hannah, the mother of Samuel, and there is Deborah and Huldah and Philip's four daughters in the New Testament who are all designated as prophets who were females. They were those who received divine revelation from God and declared it to others according to the plan of God.
Now, there are several things. This is puzzling to some people to even think about female prophets. And it's a difficult reality for some of God's people to know how to deal with. There are a couple of errors that I think we need to avoid in considering this reality of several female prophets in the scriptures. One is to take the position that is very common in modern days to say, well, that cancels all the instructions regarding women pastors that are given in the Bible. No, we don't take one part of the Bible to contradict another part of the Bible.
That's illegitimate. That's wrong. That's treating the scriptures as if they have errors in them and they do not.
So that's a wrong approach. The fact that they were female prophets does not cancel the other instructions that God gives us in His word. But there are others that go clear to the other side and treat female prophets as if there's some kind of an aberration that really shouldn't be there and somehow they are. We're not quite sure how they snuck into the scriptures because clearly God didn't intend for that to happen.
Nope, that's wrong too. This is God's word. It is God's intention. It is God who raised up these women and gave to them divine revelation. They couldn't have divine revelation if God had not given it to them and God who gave them an assignment in their prophetic ministry. And so what we should do as a people of God is to formulate with all of the scriptures in mind a welcome harmonization. We don't have to use the presence of female prophets to reject other things that are taught us in God's word, but we don't have to use the other things that are taught in God's word about the role of men and women and God's design for pastors in the church and so forth to cancel out the reality of female prophets, but we need to harmonize these two in such a way that we make room for both, but don't use either one to cancel the other.
And I'll leave it for you to work out the details on that because we don't have time for that today, but that's the direction we need to go. But back to Anna, this prophetess that God raised up for this particular time. We know a little bit about her lineage. Her father, we're told, was a man named Phanuel. That's a Hebrew equivalent of Peniel, a word which means face to face.
God met Jacob face to face at Peniel. And she was of the tribe of Asher. Here again is a little bit of information that some people overlook. Asher is one of the 10 northern tribes. There were 10 tribes to the north and two to the south when the kingdom was divided. And as we know, the 10 northern tribes were carried away into captivity and were largely dispersed, never to return and are therefore sometimes called the 10 lost tribes of Israel, as if they completely went out of existence and we don't know anything about them or what happened to those people after that. And lo and behold, we come to this account and we read about Anna, who was of the tribe of Asher, one of those 10 northern tribes, one of those 10 so-called lost tribes.
She wasn't lost. Her tribe wasn't lost. And so very clearly there were people from these 10 tribes who remained with the tribes that carried on, Judah and Benjamin.
And there are a couple of ways that could have happened. Number one, some of them very likely migrated from the north down into the south even before the dispersion of the 10 northern tribes. So they were there all along, interspersed among the southern, the members of the southern kingdom. But number two, it's also possible that some of those who were scattered did in fact make their way back. And what's clear is that there were some of them present in the New Testament times. They were not lost. And the records of their tribal lineage, their genealogy, were still being kept.
They were as much documented as those who belonged to the southern tribes. And that continued on until about 70 A.D. when Jerusalem fell and then there was a scattering that lost many of those records. But at least at this time when these words by Dr. Luke are recorded, those records were still being kept and Anna was of the tribe of Asher. Beyond her lineage, we know a little bit about her history. We are told that she had been married for seven years before her husband died and she became a widow.
Then after that it gets a little murky. Was she widowed for 84 years or was she widowed from the time she became a widow until her 84th birthday? Was she 84 years of age now or had she been widowed for 84 years? And actually the Greek is indecisive at that point. Linguistically this could be telling us either way. Realistically it seems much more likely that she's 84 because if she's not 84, if the other meaning is the correct one, she's got to be about 104, 105. Is that possible? Yes. Is it likely?
You answer that one, I'd say no, it's not real likely but not impossible. So I lean toward her being 84 years of age. She's still moving around, she's still mobile, she's still very active but there have been some rare instances where even those past the age of 100 are in that condition so we leave that to heaven to find out the answer to that particular question because we can't resolve that here upon earth. But what we know is that either way she was of advanced age and she chose to devote her singleness when she became a widow probably Jewish girls were generally married young like 14, 15 years of age so she was probably widowed in her early 20s and the normal thing would of course to be remarried and to continue on as a wife but she chose instead to devote her singleness in total service to the Lord for however many years he gave her and he gave her a lot of them and here she is at the birth of Christ in her advanced years having devoted herself to the service of God in her singleness for all of these years. What devotion? The location of her devotion we are told was a temple of course the central location of Jewish worship in these days. It says she departed not from the temple day or night which if you take that in the most literal sense means that she must have lived in the temple and we do know there were living quarters in the temple it was possible to live there and yet again from what we know about who would be allowed to live in the temple it doesn't seem likely that she would have qualified for that and so to say that she departed not from the temple day and night may be more of an idiom that says she was there whenever possible.
We sometimes talk about people who aren't church every time the doors are open that means they're there as often as possible and we talk about people who work all the time and we don't mean by that that they work 24-7 because that's physically impossible but it does mean they work more than most people and I think something like that is probably indicated here with Hannah. She devoted herself to the Lord, she was in the temple whenever the doors were open because they were closed at night and so they were opened in the morning, worship took place throughout the day, activity took place throughout the day, people coming and going all day long and then the gates were closed at night and the doors were reopened again the next day. But we're told that she served the Lord with fasting and prayers night and day which would seem to indicate that wherever she was located she not only did this, this praying and fasting during the day when the temple was open but also at night wherever she was whether she lived in a room at the temple or whether she had some other accommodations in the city of Jerusalem she was still serving the Lord with her praying and with her fasting. She was quite an unusual example of devoted service unto the Lord. And then we consider what it was that she did if she prayed we can understand that pretty readily and we know how important that is though we often neglect it to our sorrow but God honors prayers, God utilizes our prayers, that's another one of those mysteries of sovereignty and divine providence how God can take our prayers and incorporate them into his eternal purposes and accomplish those purposes through our prayers.
It is a mystery but it is a delightful mystery that we are invited into the middle of that mystery and to become a part of it, what a privilege that is. But when it comes to the question of fasting it's a little more murky. What does the Bible exactly teach us about fasting? Oftentimes we find fasting and prayers combined together in the Bible we know that there is a link between them but what exactly is the instruction of scripture in regard to fasting? We don't have any difficulty figuring out what the Bible teaches us to do regarding praying we know what we're told we know what we're commanded we just need to be more obedient in carrying that out but what about fasting? Well let me tell you what I understand about it according to Old Testament law there was only one fast required a year and that was on the day of atonement and that was an indication of mourning for sin on the day when the sins of Israel were atoned and the fasting was a reminder of the reality of sin the burden of sin the the great guilt involved in sin the necessity of sin being removed by a sacrifice provided by God and so fasting was required one day a year on the day of atonement. But there were additional fasts that were added by tradition by circumstance to the normal practice of the faithful in Israel throughout the years we find a reference to that in Zechariah chapter 8 and in verse 19 we read thus says the Lord of hosts the fast of the fourth month the fast of the fifth the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth so there are fasts on four different months now just one one day a month but four four times throughout the year that are being practiced in the days of Zechariah toward the end of the Old Testament he was contemporaries contemporary with the Malachi and we read these four fasts shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah therefore love truth and peace and so Zechariah is prophesying a day when what is now practiced as fasting a time of mourning and sorrow and burden for for spiritual needs of great proportion will all be done away with because of the joy of the reality of full redemption and no more need for fasting no more no more opportunity or or purpose in fasting at some future date but something about fasting seems to have caught the attention of people caught the the excitement of people or something could the fascination of people and so when we come to the New Testament we find that the Pharisees were in the custom of fasting two days out of every week and I knew what those days were but I didn't write them down and I forgot and it was either Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and I don't know but anyway two days a week that they fasted so now they've gone from one commanded fast to four traditional fast in a year to now more than a hundred in a year that they are practicing and we would hardly take the Pharisees as paragons of spirituality would we so in fact in spite of the fact that they were doing this and in demonstrating what would appear to be excessive dedication and commitment and devotion to God and to his word we know that in fact it had become an empty ritual to trumpet their their righteousness which in fact was no true righteousness at all it was all external it was not internal they had abused the idea of fasting to make it a mark of their superior spirituality when in fact it was simply an indication of their misunderstanding what true spirituality is but the disciples of John also followed the Pharisees in their practice of fasting two days a week which doesn't surprise us because we pick up very quickly that John was an ascetic he was one of these people who who pushed aside a lot of the normal things of life the normal diet of life and the he ate locusts and wild honey in the wilderness and so forth so we're not surprised that he too picked up this idea of fasting and taught it to his disciples so they all fasted two days a week and they came to Jesus and they asked him why don't you do this you and your disciples aren't doing it the Pharisees do we do in their minds this is the right thing to do the God honoring thing to do maybe in their minds even the commanded thing to do though it certainly wasn't in scripture but one of the commandments of men that they had picked up and they came to Jesus and said why don't you and your disciples fast you can find this in Matthew chapter 9 verses 14 and following which tells us that Jesus did not follow this practice of fasting two days a week that the Pharisees did nor taught his disciples to do so it was not practiced by them it was foreign to them and when questioned about it Jesus said such fasting is inappropriate on the part of his disciples as long as he is with them he said the guests of the at the wedding feast the guests the friends of the bridegroom don't fast while he's with them that's a time of rejoicing and feasting and joy and celebration but he said the time will come when they will fast he doesn't say what will be the practice of their fasting when the time comes but there will come a time when they will fast the indication seemed to be seems to be that they will fast when he's gone out of sorrow like when he was crucified before he rose from the dead I don't think there was a lot of feasting going along on among the disciples during that period do you they were probably they probably had no appetite whatsoever they probably fasted pretty much that whole period until Jesus rose from the dead that seems to be the kind of thing that Jesus is talking about when your hearts are weighed down with sorrow so greatly that you're not even interested in food fast it's appropriate it's appropriate and make that a time of special prayer but it's not something that God has commanded and so what do we say about fasting on the one hand the additional fast that were picked up in Zechariah's day were are not are not corrected not saying you shouldn't have added those I didn't command those says God no that's not the case they are acknowledged but nevertheless it's clear that this is something that can be abused and it seems to me therefore that what the Bible is teaching is fasting is an appropriate response to a heavy burden that all of us will carry from time to time and when God lays upon us a heavy burden the appropriate response is to fast and pray it's always appropriate to pray but in times of a special heavy burden that's the time to fast and to pray however there's nothing wrong with depriving ourselves of food even as a regular practice if we keep the right purpose in mind and don't make it an empty ritual don't make it a badge of superior spirituality in fact Jesus said when you fast don't don't parade your fasting but do it in secret it is appropriate to do it but not to trumpet it any more than it's appropriate to pray but it's not appropriate to trumpet your prayers any more than it's appropriate to give but it's not appropriate to trumpet your giving it's appropriate to fast though there's no instructions given for how that should be done or how often it should be done but it's appropriate to do it it's a good thing to deny yourself it's a good thing to concentrate upon prayer it's a good thing to acknowledge the reality of spiritual burdens though there's no instructions for exactly when and how that should be done but it's appropriate to do it it's a it's a useful thing though not a commanded thing but be certain that if you are doing it you're doing it for the right reasons and it's not something that is puffing you up in a false sense of righteousness of goodness of of doing something that God is highly pleased with because it may be a mark of hypocrisy and of misplaced priorities it's a tricky thing this fasting but Hannah practiced fasting but what was and I called her Hannah but it's Anna what was Anna's testimony on this occasion well what she demonstrated was that she was a true prophet spirit-led now there was one Anna a prophetess the daughter of annual the tribe of Asher she was a great age and lived with her husband seven years from virginity and this woman was a widow of about 84 years who did not depart from the temple but served God with fastings and prayers night and day and verse 38 coming in that instant what instant at the very instant when Simeon was prophesying in the circle of Mary and Jesus and the Christ child and whoever else might have been lingering around the edges and listening to all of this at that very instant she showed up Simeon showing up at the right time when Mary and Joseph brought the child is an indication that he was led by God in fact the scripture tells us that that God led him there at the right time and Anna showing up at exactly this right time is another indication of her position as one who was spirit-filled and led by the Lord and how does she confirm this reality that the Christ has finally come and she did so by giving thanks to God coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem she prayed she thanked God she rendered public prayer to give thanks that the promise had been fulfilled the Messiah has come and so in doing this she is proclaiming the arrival of the Messiah he has come and she's proclaiming the identity of the Messiah he has come and this is he right here the one that Simeon was even holding at that moment as he had completed his prophecy to Mary but there's also the question of to whom did she speak she spoke of him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem and the question is did she speak to people as they came into the temple to worship which is the most likely understanding or did she leave the temple and go out throughout the streets and houses of Jerusalem to proclaim this message which is certainly a possibility but either way what we see is a a person who is carrying on conversation with people on a personal level this is not a not standing up on a platform and preaching to the crowds but she is speaking to people as they come in the temple she may be speaking to people out in the public areas of Jerusalem and in in the homes of those that she knows to be believers who are looking for the coming of the Messiah she spoke we are told to those who quote looked for redemption in Jerusalem even in these days of spiritual hypocrisy and great declension there is a remnant of true believers those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem unlike the religious leaders for the most part who turned their back on every evidence of the coming of Christ they didn't want to hear about it because they weren't really looking for the redemption of Israel but there's some who were just like those in verse 25 were told of Simeon this man was just and devout waiting for the consolation of Israel these are two different phrases that basically are saying the same thing Simeon waiting for the consolation of Israel there were those who are looking for the redemption of Jerusalem this is two different ways of saying these are people who were sincerely looking for the Messiah they believe the scriptures they believe the promises of God they were true believers and what God had spoken and those are the ones that Anna spoke to confirming Simeon's testimony Simeon had prophesied that this is the one now Anna confirms the prophecy because no doubt the Old Testament scripture said that anything must be confirmed by what two or three witnesses well here is the second of two witnesses Simeon confirms the arrival of the Christ by prophetic inspiration Anna seconds that the second witness to the coming of Christ by spirit-led inspiration and so many people heard of Christ coming if you think back to what the shepherds did after they came and worshiped Jesus at the at the manger it tells us that they went out to proclaim the glad tidings to everyone here are shepherds who've come and seen with their own eyes the promised Messiah are convinced in their hearts of this and indeed is the Messiah how could you think otherwise it was angels that appeared to them and told them that news and directed them to the right place they knew that this was the word of God and so they went out and proclaimed it publicly Simeon now knows that this is the Christ child and he proclaims it publicly Anna knows that this is the Christ child and she proclaims it publicly which means that the news about the arrival of the Messiah was widely spread throughout Israel throughout Jerusalem for sure and even beyond that throughout Israel and that many believers had their their hopes fulfilled their their joy raised to a grand new level anticipation was high among believers and yet in spite of that we know that there were so many who shrugged their shoulders and refused to believe in other words there must have been hundreds and thousands who heard the same message but only relatively a few that believed it very much like what we see today isn't it thousands who hear the gospel but only a few relatively speaking who believe it well that's his infancy concluded that's the pretty much the end of what we have here about his infancy so we move on to his childhood recorded in verses 39 and 40 verse 39 so when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord they returned to Galilee to their own city Nazareth and the child grew and became strong in spirit filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him so this answers a couple of questions number one where did Jesus grow up and the answer is Nazareth and question number two what was his childhood like and we'll look at it more carefully in a moment but on the surface we would say his childhood was pretty normal in most respects we'll see that in a moment but where did he grow up Nazareth so when did the parents Mary in this and the legal father of Jesus Joseph returned to Nazareth and we're told verse 39 so when they had performed all things according to the law that has already been emphasized we saw it last Sunday they circumcised him on the eighth day according to the law Mary came to the temple for the mosaically required purification according to the law Jesus was presented to the Lord as the firstborn son of Mary according to the law and redeemed according to the law his life began with with strict obedience to the law of God his parents were people who obeyed the law of God he continued to obey it throughout the remainder of his life to a perfect degree like no one else ever did but that is emphasized again after they done all of these things required by the law then they returned to Nazareth but of course Luke doesn't record the flight into Egypt that takes place between this time in the temple and before they returned to Nazareth that's recorded in Matthew chapter 2 Luke doesn't record it Luke doesn't contradict it he just doesn't mention it you can't mention everything and that didn't fit into his purposes if all the gospel writers said exactly the same thing we wouldn't need four Gospels would we we get a lot of information by reading them all so the flight into Egypt obviously took place Herod when the when the magi came Herod plotted to kill this one who was designated as king of the Jews the angel warned Joseph to flee to take Mary and Jesus and flee into Egypt which he did Herod tried to carry out his evil plot by killing all the infants in Bethlehem below all the male children in Bethlehem age two and below which gives us some sense of of a number of months that had passed from the birth of Christ before the magi came and this took place and then the angel came to Joseph in Egypt and said Herod's dead the one that sought the child's life it's safe to return and so Joseph and Mary and Jesus returned but the question is where did they intend to return and the the careful reading of the text makes it clear again this is Matthew 2 that their intention was to return to Bethlehem or Jerusalem but when Joseph learned that it was the son of Herod who was now the ruler in Jerusalem he realized the danger might not be completely over and so he changed his plans and redirected their route back to Nazareth which of course was the hometown of Mary and Joseph where they had come from but then the question is why did he originally intend to go to Bethlehem or Jerusalem instead of back to Nazareth which does seem more likely and we're not told but let me offer a couple of possibilities knowing as they did the significance of this child and the fulfillment of scripture and the realization that God in an amazing way had brought them to Bethlehem for the birth of this child because he was of the lineage of David and was therefore appropriately born in David's hometown it would be logical for Joseph to think we should take him back to Bethlehem here's where he ought to grow up to be a true son of David or Jerusalem is the royal city the center of Jewish worship that's an appropriate place for the Messiah sent by God and if a king is going to reign upon the throne of David again he's going to do so in Jerusalem so it would seem logical that we should be there with this child that we know fulfills these prophecies but God had other intentions and he stopped them from going to Bethlehem or Jerusalem and sent them 65 miles north to Nazareth in Galilee because God intended for Jesus to grow up in Nazareth Nazareth unimpressive Bethlehem might be considered impressive in a prophetic sense Jerusalem impressive in many ways Nazareth unimpressive as a city not only unimpressive but uncredentialed Bethlehem was credentialed as I've already explained Jerusalem was credentialed in other ways as I've already explained Nazareth what credentials does it have for the location of the Messiah none that we can find in scripture but if Nazareth was unimpressive and uncredentialed it was also unmolested it was a quiet place to grow up that's what God intended a quiet place for Jesus to grow up until it was time for him to present himself publicly to Israel and then the opposition begins and so he grew up in Nazareth and what was his childhood like in the very brief summary that's given us of the first 12 years of his life his childhood was pretty normal as a human child he grew we read in verse 40 and became strong in spirit filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him what are we reading here he had normal physical growth except it was without any defect in other words it was normal physical growth to human perfection no defects the epitome of normal physical development and he had normal intellectual development he gained knowledge in the normal way how did Jesus come to know the scriptures you say well he was God he wrote them he knew them that's his divine nature but how did Jesus the human child learn these scriptures he studied them he learned them the same way you and I learned them he grew in knowledge he had to study the various scriptures that he and his divine nature had given but in his human nature he had to study them and learn them just like you and I do his humanity and so his intellectual development was in the normal way but again the epitome of intellectual development there was no sin no defect nothing to keep him from the utmost in other words if you want to know what humanity would have been like if Adam hadn't sinned look at Jesus and you'll get a pretty good idea perfect physically perfect intellectually perfect morally again normal moral development he was filled with wisdom he didn't have it automatically wisdom is the insight to apply knowledge correctly and all of these things that he was learning he had the wisdom to understand them and apply them properly to life and so it was amazing for a child of 12 years when he shows up at the temple in Jerusalem as the last portion of of Acts chapter 2 or Luke chapter 2 tells us it is amazing to see how he is more advanced than many of the scholars in Jerusalem and his understanding but he got it all in the normal way he studied and he applied God's word to life so if we ask the question why did Jesus excel in development the answer is number one because he had a sinless nature and none of us do so he had that ability to excel in a way that we don't but there's another answer to that question too because it says the child grew and became strong in spirit filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him God's abundant grace enabled him to excel in this way not surprising that God's grace would be upon him what might be surprising is that God's grace needed to be upon him but again this is because of his human nature Jesus in his human nature needed God's grace how much more do we in our fallen human natures need God's grace and thank God it is available to those who seek it so that brings me now to cite two or three lessons out of this passage before we close lesson number one it's clear that God values and blesses obedience to his word Anna is an example of that utter devotion to the word of God and how God blessed her and used her in her single-hearted devotion her willingness to give up husband and children and family life and just devote herself completely to the Lord don't ever despise those who are single by God's design and if you're single it is by God's design isn't it recognize the special place that God has for those who devote themselves to his service in a way that doesn't require the responsibilities of family like most of us have it's a great thing God values and blesses obedience to his word and God values and blesses devotion to his son his Anna is a wonderful example of that but here is the bottom line that we must take away from all of this God loves and redeems fallen sinners as much as God values and blesses obedience to his word nobody but Jesus has kept his word perfectly and therefore we need grace don't we as much as God values and blesses devotion to his son none of us even redeemed ones have devoted ourselves to Christ as fully as we should and therefore we need the pardon and grace of God don't we forgiveness for our sins but thank God he's given that that's what this is all about that's what the coming of Jesus is all about is God's love and grace poured out upon undeserving fallen sinners who can't keep his instructions his commandments perfectly but provision is made for our sin who can't devote ourselves to him as we ought to loving the Lord our God with all of our heart and souls and mind and strength and yet finding that we cannot do that we don't have the capacity as fallen sons and daughters of Adam but the grace of God to forgive to cleanse to wash away our sins and therefore acknowledge your need as a sinner and trust the son that God has given and serve him not out of merit trying to earn merit you can't do that serve him out of gratitude love and gratitude for what he has done for your soul shall we pray father thank you for your word thank you for your son thank you for a day that he was born thank you for a day that he died upon the cross for sinners thank you for a day that he arose from the tomb and we thank you for the day when he is coming again to finalize this great redemption oh and apply these truths to our hearts we pray in Christ's name amen.
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