And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.Luke 2:36-39, ESV
Imagine this young mother and father bringing their newborn child into the Temple about a week after birth. Their hearts already overflowing at the wonderful words they heard from the shepherds, but at the Temple, an elderly man scoops up the baby Jesus to praise God and identify the infant as the promised Saviour. But, there’s more. An elderly woman named Anna approaches the young family and begins to praise God with wonderful words of her own and she begins to evangelize all who would listen about the present redeemer and the coming redemption.
Mary and Joseph’s hearts were surely overflowing like someone trying to pour an entire coffee pot into an eight-ounce mug. This newly married couple had received God’s gracious words from the mouth of Gabriel, the angel of the Lord in a dream, Elizabeth, Zechariah, shepherds, Simeon, and finally Anna. Those messengers of God were like a choir that harmonized brilliantly as each of those seven voices all singing the same song of Divine fulfillment. God’s promises were being fulfilled in their very ears. I think it must have been overwhelming at times and nearly impossible to contain all the grace poured out upon them.
Preformed according to the Law
Anna’s message to all who would listen to her was redemption. God’s promised redemption for His people was drawing near. God had finally sent His redeemer. It was exactly as Malachi told them four hundred years earlier the Lord had suddenly come to His Temple.
…she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord…Luke 2:38-39, ESV
Let’s pay attention to a connection that is subtle but real. There is a connection between redemption and Jesus performing everything according to the Law of the Lord. As the Redeemer, Jesus entered into the misery of our world as a man to represent us before God. The Apostle Paul identified Jesus as the last Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:45.
What is the significance of that title? Adam was not merely an individual man who was in a relationship with God. Adam was a public figure. Adam was the representative of all humanity in relationship to God. That is why Paul describes all humanity as naturally fallen, corrupt, and damned “in Adam” (1 Cor 15:22). When Adam rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden he plunged all humanity into a state of sin and misery. We all suffer for our own sins, but we also suffer as the result of Adam’s original sin (Rom 5:12-14). Our original representative was given the Law of the Lord and willingly defied (1 Tim 2:14) that law and the result was divine justice and condemnation for our entire race.
Jesus’ title “the last Adam” is describing Him as our new representative. As individuals, we will be judged, but we cannot redeem ourselves. We are born sinners who hopelessly deny the Law of the Lord, seemingly at every turn. If we will be redeemed, we need a representative or a mediator between us and God. Therefore, Paul wrote to Timothy, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). There are two aspects of Christ’s mediation between God and us that I want us to briefly consider. First, our representative must perfectly obey the Law of the Lord on our behalf (active obedience). Second, our representative must satisfy justice for the crimes for which we are guilty (passive obedience).
Because we are guilty sinners who have broken God’s law we have all earned our own condemnation. When God says, “thou shalt not” and “thou shalt” He has every right to command us, and we do not have the right to rebel. God’s law is good, and if it was followed we would experience true freedom and joy. The problem is that we are all natural-born rebels who prefer to order our own lives according to our own imaginations. While that rebellious nature resides within us naturally it does not excuse our wickedness. When God gave His law it had threats of divine justice attached in order to deter the violation. We often don’t take the time to consider God’s threats because we desire the satisfaction of our lusts immediately. What is the threat of divine justice attached to breaking God’s law? Death.
We all deserve death according to the law of God. Will we all receive death? No. God sent forth His Son to redeem us (Gal 4:4-5). Jesus, our representative, is truly God and truly man. This mystery called the incarnation is fundamental to our redemption for at least two reasons. First, if Jesus will be our representative He must truly be one of us. Second, if Jesus will accept the responsibility of representing us before God to be condemned for our crimes He must be truly divine. Only God could survive the wrath of God poured out upon all the ungodliness of men. God will not violate His own perfectly just nature and He will not deny His own perfectly merciful nature. Therefore He has intervened. It is through God incarnate that we are saved because as our representative He has obeyed God’s law perfectly for us and perfectly satisfied God’s wrath against us. We are now free, and that is why Paul wrote to the Romans, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).