Friday, February 27, 2015

“Numbers of Hope-12” (Luke 2:42)

S-1479 2MIL/3B 2/25/2015 Hymns: (O) #140 vv 1, 4; (S) #370; (C) #158

Texts: Luke 2:41-51

Theme: “Numbers of Hope-12” (Luke 2:42)

2nd sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for this evening is from the Gospel Lesson: When He was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom.”

Tonight we continue with the theme: Numbers of Hope! Numbers from Genesis to Revelation are written into the text of the Holy Scriptures by the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible. These numbers beckon us to pay attention. They are like the word “behold” in the Old Testament and New Testament. Every time the word “Behold” appears it is designed to make us pause, ponder, and pray this petition. How does this word lead to Christ, the Hope of history?

Hope is our number one need in life. It has been said that a person can live 60 days without food, 8 days without water, a few minutes without air, but not a second without hope.

Hope is heaven born optimist our body, soul, and spirit needs. Hope is the air for our lungs, the blood in our veins and the light in our eyes. Without hope, we wither, we die; we fold up like a plant without any sunshine.

In preparation of the sermon, I went to a website seeking stories of hope. It led me to But when I clicked on it, sadly this came up: The site is temporary down or no longer available. How disappointing THAT was. How unlike God’s's hope which always keeps every promise through Christ our Lord.

Though the website was down to help me with a story of hope yet, the same day the Lord permitted a video in Arabic to come to my attention. THAT video revealed the most profound hope one can imagine. It spoke of the resurrection Hope Jesus gives to His redeemed today who face the most grave circumstances imaginable.

This story of hope came from the Coptic Christian community in Egypt. It was an interview of an Egyptian man of two brutally martyred brothers by ISIS in Libya (part of the 21) because they are followers of the Lord Jesus.

In the interview the brother states: “Their martyrdom has strengthened our faith…I thank God for ISIS because they ushered my brothers into the Kingdom of heaven with Jesus…our family here is rejoicing at what has taken place and congratulate each other…in our village we are proud of these men who stood the test and received the crown promised to them by Jesus…in the Holy Gospel we are told: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of Your Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 5:44-45)

I asked my mother “what would she do if she saw one of the ISIS men on the street?” Her response was: “I would tell them welcome to my home. I thank you for sending my sons to see the face of Jesus!” Now that is HOPE par excellence. PAUSE.

Tonight our Numbers of hope draw from the number 12. This evening’s gospel reading tells us of the 12 years old Jesus in the temple being instructed from the Word of God even as He instructed the most brilliant rabbis in Israel’s history about God’s love and rescue story—this story of hope. Luke notes the number of 12 very carefully. He wants us to see that Jesus is the bridge of both testaments. He will make this abundantly clear in the story of the Emmaus Disciples when Jesus opens up the eyes of faith of those two forlorn disciples. At the beginning of that seven mile walk they were hopeless, hapless, and heavy-hearted. But by the end of that walk and talk through the Bible they were brimming with mountain top hope, deep joy, and peace beyond all understanding.

As a 12 year-old boy we see Jesus, Israel reduced to one, imbibing the story of God’s grace through the 12 tribes in preparation for even more grace to come through the twelve apostles. You can imagine Jesus at age twelve talking about the twelve sons of Jacob, the twelve tribes in the Old Testament, the twelve springs of water in the wilderness, the twelve pillars of the temple, the twelve stones of thanksgiving, the twelve lions on the mercy seat, the twelve cakes in the house of God, the twelve spies, Joshua praising God with twelve stones, Elijah doing the same and on and on. Each time Jesus no doubt would have brought it back to God’s master plan of salvation, the keeping of His promise, the foundation of hope.

This hope is found in the Gospel reading for this evening saying: “And when He [Jesus] was twelve years old, they [His parents] went up according to custom” (Luke 2:42) This verse demonstrate the great plans of salvation mapped out by this young 12 year old teacher, teaching us the value of each number and word written for us in His book. PAUSE.

Again if you scan, search and study Scripture, you will find the number 12 like sunshine bringing the light of the Gospel to our lives as the blood-bought children of Christ. It is mentioned at least 147 times. But, if you study it further you know that it appears more as it is connected to others numbers.

The first time we come across it, it is connected with the name Seth (the third son of Adam mentioned by name), whose days were 912 years (Genesis 5:8). His name means appointed. This shows us again the Divine plan of God that all of our days are appointed by the Giver of every good and perfect gift. The gifts of numbers are written to make us strong in understanding the grace of God and the hope He offers us in His life-giving and life-sustaining Word.

Numbers of hope they are. They are like the words from the Father at Jesus’ baptism and Jesus’ Transfiguration saying, “Listen to Him!” 12 is the blue print of God’s plans of salvation to bring forth the Son of Promise—not Isaac, “laughter”, but Yeshua—“Jesus”—the Savior. Already in the book of Genesis we see the plan of God carried out. Jacob, the grandson of the Patriarch Abraham, has 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel. Through Judah the line brings forth the Promised Son.

When Jesus enters the ministry field He chooses 12 men and spends 3 years with them preparing them for the greatest joy and privilege they will every have—to be His spokespersons. He taught them to love God and neighbor. He demonstrated forgiveness and showered them with grace upon grace and sent them out into the world as His apostles to carry on the task of spreading the Gospel. He picked each of these men to be His ambassadors in taking His story to the end of the earth beginning right in Jerusalem.

These 12 Galilean men witnessed Jesus do the mighty thing of God—healing, raising the dead, and caring for the needs of others. In one of His miracles (the feeding of the 5000 Matthew 14:15-20) the disciples pick up 12 baskets of barley bread. These 12 baskets of bread, barley bread, become the beautiful barley basket bridge of the Old Testament and New Testament. This mighty miracle highlights the providence of Christ in meetings the needs of all people as John (one of the 12) taught us of Jesus’ Words: “I Am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst” (6:35). He is indeed!

Jesus supplies everything we need as evident in the 12 baskets. The Apostle Paul stated this: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20).

Indeed this Jesus the Eternal God who once was 12 can and does give us more than we can imagine or think about. We see this played out in His final hours of His life. From six in the morning on Good Friday when He was sentenced to die until six at night when He was laid in Joseph’s sepulcher, we see twelve of the most profound hours in all of history.

God in flesh sentenced to die...3 the morning lamb sacrificed! To fulfill Is. 53

God in flesh nailed to the cross 3 hours later! Between 2 malefactors to fulfill Is. 53

A total eclipse of the sun, and the Son...3 hours later! To fulfill Isaiah 53

3 hours later, God’s lifeless body placed in the tomb to fulfill Isaiah 53

12 huge hours...12 hours of misery to provide mercy. 12 hours of hell to provide heaven. 12 hours of agony to provide affirmation. 12 hours of trial to provide triumph.

Consider all of these events please. 3 plus, 3 plus, 3 plus, 3 plus...The promised One of the twelve tribes, Jesus of Nazareth, completes the most extraordinary twelve hours in history as His story for our salvation.

May the Holy Spirit, guide, guard and point you to Your God and Savior Jesus Christ who uses numbers to give more than you can ask or imagine—giving you the one thing you need—hope in Him forever and ever. Amen.

Now the peace…


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