February 1, 2014

Jesus Saves Us from Spiritual Pollution and Death (Readings for Presentation of Jesus)

The Readings (Mica 3.1-4; Heb. 2.14-18; Luke 2.22-40) for the Celebration of Jesus Presentation in the Temple remind us of the holiness of God and the need for human purification. This was an Epiphany moment for Mary and Joseph who knew God was doing something special but did not know Jesus was the long expected Messiah or Saviour of Israel. The Readings explain how Jesus sacrificial death broke the power of Satan - sin guilt, from leading us to spiritual death.

1. Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to God (Ex. 13.2, 12)
Mary and Joseph were carrying out their responsibilities as parents living under the Covenant of Moses and the Hebrew Law. This was similar to the New Covenant responsibility of baptized parents to prepare and bring their children for Baptism. Israel was a Theocracy where God was the supreme ruler or king.

·         God was holy so the people needed to protect and maintain their personal holiness to be in relationship to God

·         Sin led to spiritual pollution that meant a person could not be in the Hebrew Covenant relationship with God

·         People naturally rebel, sin and separate themselves from God

·         People needed  a way to forgiveness and restored relationship

·         Hebrew Covenant provided forgiveness through animal sacrifices in the Temple by priests

·         Sacrifices required a lot of priests so firstborn males were to be dedicated to God for religious responsibilities in families

·         Reminder that many men in our time have never been taught or have abandoned their role as priests for their family

2. Epiphany Moment for Mary and Joseph - Jesus the Messiah
Mary and Joseph knew God was doing something special with their son. They were astonished to learn that Jesus was the long expected Messiah. (Notice the personal holiness of both prophets).

·         Hebrews had been waiting since King David for a military leader who would restore the glory of Israel

·         Instead God gave them a spiritual solution that was far more powerful and permanent – an eternal solution

·         Jesus was to be the solution to the problem of sin and death

·         People lived in fear of separation from God and physical death

·         God provided a new effective way to purify themselves and free themselves of sin guilt and live with God forever

3. Jesus sacrificial death broke the power of sin guilt & death
Jesus added to the Covenant of Moses a new possibility for the forgiveness of sins. This New Covenant was made in the blood of Jesus on the Cross.

·         Penalty for sin was death – shedding of blood (life)

·         Jesus offered His death as a substitute for the sin of others

·         Not automatic – are three conditions

 A. Requires personal belief in Jesus as Saviour – was who he said He was and could do what he said He would do - Thief on the cross the basic example

B. Also requires specific repentance and confession –   like the thief on the cross

C. Requires a specific request – words have power

·         Mystery – but God has promised that those who believe in Jesus and ask Jesus to cover their specific sins with His shed blood will be forgiven

·         Our Baptismal Covenant establishes a Spiritual connection as we become part of the Body of Jesus

·         Jesus somehow  takes our sin guilt back in time to the Cross and includes our guilt in His death

Today we celebrate the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the Epiphany Moment of discovering Jesus is our Saviour

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