In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under Law, to redeem those under the Law (Galatians 4:4-5). God’s timing is perfect. It is true. It is an arrow that hit the bullseye from thousands of years out. All of time revolves around this moment. All eternity praises this moment and depends on this moment when in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son. Why did He do it? To redeem you. To buy you back from sin. To be the saviour of God’s fallen children and of all creation.
Most importantly, the spiritual time was right. The Law of the Lord had done its work. The Law can not save you. The Old Covenant was at its end. The history of the Jewish people showed that all attempts to live according to God’s standards and to reap the benefits and blessedness of that Law are wholly hopeless. At no point, even at the summit of success was Israel ever right and pure according to the Law. Even David, her greatest king was also her greatest sinner. When God’s blessing was not enough for him he used his privilege to take his pleasure.
In the fullness of time, all religions, all systems of rules to get to God were bankrupt. Religion had been the power base of Babylon, and of most any empire that had risen to that time, except maybe Alexander the Great’s brief military and cultural remaking of the world. And then here came Christianity. A religion that swept through the world not quite as fast as Alexander’s 12 years of military conquest. But within a generation of Christ’s cross and resurrection a kingdom not of this world with Christ as its king had taken root in the hearts of people from the Atlantic to the Indian to the Pacific oceans. It was not a worldly kingdom of power and justice, spread by military might, but a kingdom of grace and mercy, spread by a Word spoken. A greater conquest has never been known than the peaceful passing of this righteous rule over the hearts and minds of those conquered by this Prince of Peace.
So, His righteous parents—righteous by faith in Him—brought Him to the Temple for His mother’s purification and His redemption. And those who had heard the story of the shepherds that had spread out throughout the whole region 40 days earlier were gathered in the Temple that day waiting. Expectant. Knowing that the Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, would be there, just as the Old Testament had laid out in its Laws that on the 40th day a first born Son must be brought for His redemption. They were there, they were waiting for their Redeemer, not least of which were sincere Simeon and angelic Anna.
And our God who lines all things up, who times all things perfectly, did it just right again. Anna had been married 7 years. 7 is the number of the day of God’s rest, after He created, and after He finished redeeming the world. She was 84 which is 7 x 12. 12 is the number of God’s people: the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 apostles, Old Testament and New Testament. She was an expression of the faith of the Old Testament people. That faith looked for this baby boy and trusted that God would be true to His promise to send Him. So she thanked God for this baby. She told all who were waiting for their saviour that this babe was He. That through Him the Old was done, the New has come.
He is your rest and your peace. Have you notice that you sing Simeon’s song after you go to the Lord’s Supper? For there, like Simeon, you have seen your salvation. It is held aloft for you as the Pastor declares to you that Jesus’ body and blood are your peace with God. And you say: Amen! Which means, “Ain’t that the truth.”
Like Simeon, you go to the Sacrament like you are going to your death, so that you can go to your death like you are going to the Sacrament. Which is to say, you go joyfully. You go expectantly. You go knowing that after this you can die in peace for God’s peace is yours. It is in you. Like Simeon, your own eyes have seen your salvation (Luke 2:29-30). Like King David, your lips have tasted the Lord’s goodness (Psalm 34:8). Like doubting Thomas your hands have handled the risen Saviour (John 20:24-29).
Our God’s timing is perfect. He revives your soul, even in the midst of sorrow and woe. He raises you up in the peace and joy of Christ Jesus. For this baby beheld by you is the only thing that counts when all is said and done. And HE is yours in His Supper.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON