Monday, December 14, 2015

“Dedication of Firstborn” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School lesson
For Sunday December 20, 2015

Purpose: To celebrate the climax of God’s long plan of salvation in the birth of Jesus

Bible Lesson: Exodus 13:13b-15, Luke 2:22-32

Background Scripture: Exodus 13:11-16; Leviticus 12; Numbers 3:5-13; Luke 2:21-39

Key Verse: When the time came for their ritual cleansing, in accordance with the Law from Moses, they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. (Luke 2:22)

Exodus 13:13b-15 (CEB)
(13) You should ransom every oldest male among your children. (14) When in the future your child asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you should answer, ‘The Lord brought us with great power out of Egypt, out of the place we were slaves. (15) When Pharaoh refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the oldest offspring in the land of Egypt, from the oldest sons to the oldest male animals. That is why I offer to the Lord as a sacrifice every male that first comes out of the womb. But I ransom my oldest sons.’

Luke 2:22-32 (CEB)
(22) When the time came for their ritual cleansing, in accordance with the Law from Moses, they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. (23) It’s written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord.” (24) They offered a sacrifice in keeping with what’s stated in the Law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. (25) A man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. He eagerly anticipated the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. (26) The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (27) Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple area. Meanwhile, Jesus’ parents brought the child to the temple so that they could do what was customary under the Law. (28) Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said, (29) “Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word, (30) because my eyes have seen your salvation. (31) You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples. (32) It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles and a glory for your people Israel.”

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

I think this lesson could be made a lot more complicated than it really is. I will try and explain what I think the lesson teaches us.

Most of us are familiar with the story of Abraham and Isaac, and how Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac, but God provide a ram caught in a thicket as a ransom for Isaac. In the story of creation, we know that the first born son was Abel, but he was killed by Cain. In the story of the children of Israel being brought out of Egypt, a ransom of the firstborn male of every living thing was required, unless the blood was painted over the door post of a home.

So the children of Israel were ransomed by the death of the Egyptian first born sons. All of this sets up a pattern for God to redeem his creation,

In the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus we see God’s plan come to fruition. In our text from Luke there are two ceremonies that appear as one.

In Luke 2:21 it says, “When eight days had passed, Jesus’ parents circumcised him and gave him the name Jesus. This was the name given to him by the angel before he was conceived.” This is a separate event from what follows.

In our printed text in verse 2:22-24 of Luke we have two events. First there is the ransom of Jesus as the first born son of Mary, and there is the purification of Mary. After giving birth and a during a woman's menstrual cycle women were considered unclean and could not worship, or come in contact with people until they were ceremonially purified. After giving birth this time lasted for 33 days. So the appropriate offering was made as a ransom for Jesus and as purification for Mary. (pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,)

All of this sets up Jesus, God’s first born son to become the ransom paid for our own redemption. This is what Anna, and Simeon knew. They both knew (by the Holy Spirit) Jesus was the redeemer of God’s creation, not just for Israel but for the whole world.

There is only one hymn that comes to mind, “Redeemed How I love to Proclaim it.”

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