Christ: Savior or Stumbling Stone?

Luke 2.21—35

Jesus’ birth is an amazing event. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, while
traveling to participate in a census. A few days later, Jesus is
presented in the temple. Luke points out that their offering is either
a pair of doves or two young pigeons, which was the offering made if
you were poor. If you could afford it, you offered a lamb. This speaks
of the humble roots of Jesus’ family—they apparently could not afford
the expense of a lamb.

Simeon – the Lord’s Servant (Slave) …
Simeon received a promise from the Lord that he would not die until he
sees the Savior. It is with great joy that he announces, “With my own
eyes, I have seen what you have done to save your people.” He says, in
his prayer, “Now, you can release (dismiss) me.” IOW, he’s ready to die.

Jesus, Savior for whom?
Is the phrase all peoples a reference to Israel alone, or to both
Israel and the Gentiles? “He is a light to reveal God to the nations.”
This verse makes it clear that all peoples includes Gentiles!

Christ: Savior or Stumbling block?
Simeon said to Mary, “This child of yours will cause many people in
Israel to fall and others to stand. The child will be like a warning
sign. Many people will reject him, 35and you, Mary, will suffer as
though you had been stabbed by a dagger. But all this will show what
people are really thinking.”

The language of falling and rising emphasizes that Jesus will bring
division in the nation, as some will be judged (falling) and others
blessed (rising) because of how they respond to him. This is the first
hint that Jesus’ coming will be accompanied with some difficulties.

For example, we’ve seen a cultural battle this Christmas season: “Happy
Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas.” Many have struggled in a politically
correct environment.

  • Target decided not to allow Salvation Army bell ringers
  • Wal-Mart responded by matching contributions of up to $1 million.
  • Perhaps Barnes & Noble had the wisest response of the PC crowd – they had a “respond in kind” policy.

On Christmas Eve when I talked about “All I Want for Christmas,” one of
the things I said I’d ask God for, is peace. The Scriptures say …

  • “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14.33)
  • Jesus says, “I am leaving you with agift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the
    peace the world gives” (John 14.27)
  • “God’s peace … is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand” (Philippians 4.7).

But in Luke 12.51–53, Jesus says, “Do you think I have come to bring
peace to the earth? No, I have come to bring strife and division! From
now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two
against–or the other way around. There will be a division between
father and son, mother and daughter, mother-in-law and
daughter-in-law.” (See also Romans 9.31–33 and John 3.14–18).

Many people want to create a Savior in their own image!
Your warning system should go off any time you hear someone say, “To
me, God is like ____.” There’s nothing wrong with saying what God is
like, but it should be based on Scripture. We must be careful about
creating God in our image. That’s the trouble with a lot of
contemporary spirituality. It’s all based on what makes us happy,
fulfilled, complete, etc. It’s really about creating God (i.e. Savior)
in our image! That’s why many Israelites couldn’t accept Jesus as the
Messiah – he didn’t fit their image of the Messiah.

The problem is, if you create God in your image, when God acts in a way
that doesn’t fit your image, you will reject him. Why do you think
everyone asks, “How could God allow this?” after a tragedies like 911?
Because they’ve created an image of God that doesn’t allow bad things
to happen to good people.

Psalm 118.21–29

What’s Your Response?

  1. Get to know the Savior revealed in the Scriptures.
  2. Receive Jesus the Savior
  3. Serve the Savior – become a “servant of the Lord”

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