What Does God Expect of Me?
Text: Luke 2: 21-38
Proposition: Our reasonable response to what God has done and is about to do is to serve Him simply, passionately and perseveringly.
Introduction: What do you think is a reasonable expectation for God to have over your life?. Is it reasonable that He would expect you to seek Him, if you are a Christian is it reasonable that He would expect you to serve Him. Does God expect us to talk with Him regularly, does He expect us exercise faith every day? It’s either that or God has no expectations of us whatsoever, we just coast along with a heavenly Father who is really busy, perhaps too busy and is just happy that we are His children.
Consider what Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” In other words it’s only reasonable that our response to God be a ‘living sacrifice’. I’d like to look at the lives of four people this morning, just tiny glimpses into what they considered a reasonable response might look like. Turn with me to Luke 2: 21-38.
I. For Joseph and Mary, A Reasonable Response Was Simple.
How can something as profound as God’s expectations for our lives be simple? It’s simple because it is plainly spoken to us, it is a logical or reasonable response and it is something we all can do. When your mother told you to be home by 9, did you wonder what she meant by that, did you grasp her logic for why she said this, was it within your will to comply…then it was simple!
It’s about a week after the birth of Jesus, eight days to be precise. For seven days, after giving birth, Mary was considered to be unclean. On the evening of the eighth day she and Joseph would have taken their son to the local synagogue. Here they would officially have Him named Jesus and then the Rabbi would have circumcised him. This cutting of His flesh marked Jesus as being under the covenant or agreement that God had made with all Israel. It both identified Him with Israel and it marked Him as being under the Law of Moses, which demanded that there be sacrifice for sin. The couple returned to their lodgings and then waited another 33 days for the time of purification to be complete before they took Him to the Temple in Jerusalem for the first time. So when Jesus was just 40 days old they went to the temple to offer sacrifice. They go here to give thanks and to recognize the cost of sin. The first born male child is presented in thanksgiving in the Temple as a reminder of what God did in delivering the people of Israel from Egypt by the death of the first born of that land. That’s what Joseph and Mary did, it was not considered to be extraordinary, just a reasonable service of worship. Two doves were given as a sin offering. They were responding to what the Word of God prescribed, they were being obedient to the revealed will of God. They heard what it said, they understood the logic behind it and it was within their will to do…it was simple. As we ready ourselves each day for what lay ahead our reasonable response to God is also simple. How you will give, how you will commit, how you will pray, how you will love…in all these things do you hear what the Scripture says, do you understand the reason or logic for why it’s there, is it within your ability to do it…then it’s simple. It is just your reasonable response.
II. For Simeon, A Reasonable Response Was to Search.
Though he is described as being righteous and devout, these were not his end response, they merely describe how he searched. In other words he did not set out to act devoutly or righteously, he set out to know God with all his heart, mind and soul and to search for what had been promised in His word. Specifically he searched for the consolation or comforting of Israel. He searched with a passion for the Messiah. Is there anything in your life that you are searching for with such passion? Is it possible that God would desire that level of passion from us as part of our reasonable response to Him? Simeon, an elderly man, is filled with the heavenly Father’s love for the Son of God… he is in the Spirit… and he sees what God sees, he sees Jesus. He sees what he has been searching for, God’s salvation, prepared in the presence of all peoples. The salvation of God has been prepared in the presence of all peoples so that you would know there is sin in humanity, there is a hell for those who remain under the sentence of sin, there is a God, who although He is loving is also holy, absolutely without sin. This is the light of revelation to the Gentiles because they weren’t raised with such an awareness as the Jews have been in their generations. This salvation in Jesus Christ is the glory of Israel, it is what Israel was designed for in the first place, to reveal all of Who God is and all of what He intends to do. Israel was designed to glorify God and now Jesus Christ is the pinnacle and fulfillment of all that Israel was created for. In Simeon’s closing words to Mary he sets her upon a search. This child, he tells Mary, will cause many in Israel to stumble, they will oppose Him, the sword that will pierce your own soul will be His rejection and death. In Romans 11 Paul says, “For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off. And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree. ” It is this belief that God indeed searches for, even expects of us, it is what Simeon’s last comment refers to, “to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Is there a search, a passionate search going on within your own soul, a search that fires belief and ever seeks like armor to guard you from unbelief out of which sin will arise? It too is your reasonable response to God.
III. For Anna, A Reasonable Response Was to Stand Firm.
Likely Anna was about 17 when she married, her husband died 7 years later and for the next 60 years or so she remained single and served God in the richness of being single. Night and day she served, with fastings and prayer she served. It was to her only a reasonable response, it was not extraordinary. She is described as being a ‘prophetess’, a woman whom God used to proclaim His word and revealed will. Sir Edwyn Clement Hoskyns has this quote attributed to him, “The Truth which is being spoken to you most clearly in the Scriptures is your only protection against cynicism and skepticism, just as it is your only protection against that false romanticism which is the modern cruel substitute for faith in God.” How will you stand firm against these same corrosive forces in your life? Whenever you are assailed by cynicism or skepticism that seeks to replace your faith, how will you stand firm? You see Anna, like Simeon, was also searching for the redemption of Israel, she longed to see His salvation come. She fasted to that end, she prayed and served to that end. She didn’t quit, she didn’t take a break, she didn’t pull back, she stood firm. It was to her a reasonable response to God. In God’s timing, Anna perfectly intersected with Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Jesus. She beheld Christ, she saw Jesus and all that she had persevered for was fulfilled.
God does have a reasonable expectation for each one of us here this morning, that we would respond in simplicity, with a passion to search that we would also enable us to persevere and stand firm…it is our reasonable response to all of what God has done and is about to do in Christ Jesus.