Friday, December 27, 2013

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 29, 2013

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JESUS PRESENTED IN THE TEMPLE
(JESUS should be the one we are looking for)
(Luke 2:25-38)

In the Apostle Paul’s, now famous, letter to the Romans, as expressed in chapter 8, verse 19 in the original Greek, the word he uses for “earnest expectations”, or “hope for the future”, is apokaradokia (a-pock-a-rah-do-KEE-ah). It is a term that describes the attitude of a man, who scans the horizon, with his head leaning forward, as he eagerly anticipates the first signs of the coming of the glory of GOD.
In biblical times every Jewish person regarded his own nation as the “chosen” people. However, most of them understood quite clearly, that, by human means, they could never aspire to the greatness which they believed their future would bring without the help of the coming MESSIAH.
In Luke chapter 2, verses 25-38, the author of GOD gives us a vivid description of two “old faithful servants” who had been waiting patiently “in the spirit of apokaradokia”. First, we see Simeon (Vs.25-35), an aging, devout, and righteous man of GOD, who was filled with the HOLY SPIRIT, being led to the Temple one day by that compelling SPIRIT. The SPIRIT draws him there so that GOD could fulfill HIS promise to him that he would not die before seeing the coming MESSIAH.
In the Greek, there is a wonderful sounding word that New Testament writers use for “promise”. It is “epaggelia” (ep-ang-el-ee-ah), and it is “an announcement of divine assurance of good”. Simeon had waited a long time for this day and “his faithfully expectant heart” allowed him to recognize THE SON OF GOD when he first saw HIM.
Many a Christian has said that, “they are waiting on the coming of the MESSIAH”, but do we possess the “expectant heart” we must have in order to recognize HIM when HE finally stands before us. Simeon recognized the baby JESUS, and he took HIM into his arms and began to recite a praise hymn to GOD, that has come to be known as the “Nunc Dimittis” (Vs.29-32). It is a term which comes from the Latin “Vulgate”, and it means “Now, let depart”.
One of the great tragedies in life is that pride, social standing, and economic achievements is what most often keeps a person from first, recognizing, and then, giving reverence to the ALMIGHTY GOD. Simeon had received the fulfillment and realization of his dream, and now, he could depart from this life and die in peace.
In Luke 2, verses 35-38, we see a very similar and equally righteous account of a Prophetess named Anna. This daughter of a man named, Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, had lost her husband many years ago, after only seven years of marriage. She was now 84 years old, and had resided in the Temple, perhaps more than 60 years, worshiping GOD with fasting and prayer, day and night.
This is a lovely story, perhaps one that is unparalleled in the annals of Bible history. Anna was convinced that the best was yet to come in her life and she demonstrated it with “an unshakable hope”. It is this kind of example of the “Christian hope” that, now and throughout the history of the church, has served as motivation to make life on earth, conform more fully with the Word of GOD, just as it would later be presented to us by JESUS CHRIST, throughout HIS lifetime, here on earth.
Anna could have chosen to be bitter, after losing her husband at such a young age. But instead, she chose to come out of the darkness of her despairing past, and walk in the light of GOD’s glorious presence, and remain faithful to HIS word, throughout the remainder of her life, here on earth.
Great truths of the Bible, such as these two stories chronicled here in this Gospel account of Luke, are worth the slow, reflective kind of reading that it takes to grasp the beauty of their meaning. Great literary works, by men of GOD, often challenge our imaginations and understanding. That is why we must go back and read them over, time and time again. And let us always remember the unshakable faith of these two great “personifications of the Christian hope”, Simeon and Anna, and share the good news of the gift of Salvation, as we wait on mercy from JESUS CHRIST unto eternal life.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


                                 
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