Let Us Ponder These Things


December 28, 1997 ~ Bloomfield Standard Church


Luke 2:15-19 - When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.


Luke 24:44-47 - He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.


The Messiah was not a mystery, He was not an unexpected personage, even the humblest of Jews understood that both the Law and the Prophets time and time again revealed hidden insights into His life and ministry. The promise of the Messiah was near to the heart of every Jew, He was expected and He was longed for. Yet how often have we read the verses above, and others like them, and wondered what facts were being refered to as proof of Jesus legitimacy.


The problem, as often as not, is our method of reading the Bible. Today we tend to read far more for pleasure than at any other time in this world's history and it this freely available entertainment, I believe, that affects how we read the Bible.


The words before us on the page of a novel must by necessity have a very direct relationship to the events immediately surrounding them; very seldom in literature is the written word isolated from neighbouring events. Then we come to the Bible with our reading skills shaped by years of Max Brand, Toronto Star, Margaret Atwood, and Farley Mowat and we find little of the wonder for which many over the years have been willing to give their lives. We often cannot see the foretellings of the Messiah because we are reading the Bible as novel, by which we may be entertained, instead of as the revelation of God to man, by which we may be saved. We neglect to remember that in the Bible words have less to do with neighbouring events than they do with the coming of the Promised One. Let us view several of these important passages this morning and observe what the plan which was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ shows us of the majesty and love of our God.


Our very first text is taken from the beginnings of mankind, in the garden our first parents called their home, just after their rebellion against God. Confronting the man, woman, and serpent the God of all creation proclaims:


Genesis 3:15 - And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.


Notice that God is talking here to the serpent, the one responsible for our original downfall, Satan in disguise. He is saying something remarkable in informing the serpent that his head shall be bruised by the woman's seed. Not the seed of the man and the woman, but of the woman alone. Note that Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man but that He is not a son of a man. Jesus is the Son of God and the son of Mary, a woman. Many Bible students, myself included, believe this verse to be a clear prophecy of Jesus, the Son of a woman through the Holy Spirit, who would ultimately defeat Satan's attempt to cause the damnation of all mankind.


Our next verse is somewhat more straightforward. God is now speaking with the father of the Jewish people and is telling this ancient man that through his offspring shall great things happen:


Genesis 22:17-18 - I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.


Now we know that Abraham and Sarah had Isaac, the child of promise, long after most people would have given up hope. Picture it in their eyes: An old woman, an older man, 90 and 100 years of age respectively, expecting a child, and from that child a nation! An offspring through whom all nations of the earth would be blessed. It was almost unimaginable! Yet we are told that Abraham believed God and because of this the promise was made. Recall also that Jesus was born a Jew, He is the offspring (seed, just as to the serpent in the garden) through whom all the nations would be blessed. We are here today, having hope of entering eternal kingdoms of glory, because of Jesus. Had He not lived we would die.


Next we come to the Psalms, that collection of great Hebrew poetry upon which we still base many of our favourite hymns. We often read the Psalms for inspiration but did you know that many times in Psalms alone we are confronted by great Messianic prophecies? Only two of them will be covered now, the first being:


Psalm 16:10 - Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.


Upon this verse the apostle Peter preaches his first evangelistic message:


Acts 2:29-36 - Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, "The Lord said to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'" Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.


Emphatically stating that David was not speaking of himself with regard to not experiencing the corruption of the grave but of the Messiah, whom we know did not remain in the grave but came back to life and was witnessed by many to ascend bodily into heaven.


And the second:


Psalm 34:20 - He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.


Which itself builds upon this verse from Exodus:


Exodus 12:46 - It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.


This is completed at Jesus' crucifixion when, to hasten death, the legs of the condemned would be broken and Jesus' were not for He was dead already:


John 19:32-34 - The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.


Recall that Jesus was also our Passover sacrifice, a comparison that is made too often in the writings of the New Testament to dispute and that the bones of the Passover lamb of Hewbrew history were not to be broken.


The prophecies are not isolated events, they build upon each other as we can see in the interconncectedness of the above verses. And it is here that the greatest problem of our style of reading the Bible comes into play. We often merely read snippets, forgetting from one day to the next what has been read before. Yes, the Bible is an incredible devotional book, but it is far more than that, it is God's revelation of Himself to man over a great period of time and the revelation of His mechanism for our salvation. If we reduce ourselves to reading this great treasure in spits and spurts we can never hope to grasp the wonder of the plan that came to fruition in the birth of a child on Christmas Day. Our Bible is a treasure chest filled with the glory of God, prepared throughout the ages for our discovery. Let us begin again to discover the glory of God in the pages of this book that excels all others.