Welcome! It’s January and it’s wonderful to celebrate a new year but sad to take down decorations, so I haven’t taken mine down yet. We have one more Sunday of Christmas today. What happens after the birth of Jesus? Today’s passage is about 40 days after Jesus’ birth. It’s about why Jesus came, why he was born and why it matters.
A mother would go to the temple and offer a sacrifice for purification. Mary and Joseph lived outside of Jerusalem so they went to the temple. They were close. Mary will make a sacrifice and Jesus will be presented in the temple. Mary and Joseph are trying to raise Jesus in the way they were called to do. In the middle of this there’s a big surprise! What we have in Luke 2 are stories about people who were part of Jesus’ coming to earth. We are reminded why this story matters and what God was doing in people’s hearts in that day.
Simeon heard from God. How significant it is to hear from God. If God is speaking in your life you’re greatly blessed. Simeon is doing something simple; he is hearing from God.
Knowing God is one of life’s greatest blessings.
25Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Luke 2.25-26 (ESV)
Verse 25 tells us the kind of person Simeon was. He was devout which means he was careful in his religious duties. This doesn’t sound exciting! He was careful in all he did. For example, if you need a surgery you want the guy who is careful! If someone is preparing food, we want it done carefully. Simeon is thoughtful. The Bible doesn’t say that Simeon was a priest. The Bible says he was at the temple, he hears from God and does what God told him to do. It’s a blessing to hear from God. Chris reminded us last week that one way we hear from God is through God’s Word. God reveals Himself in a number of ways.
Verse 25 also tell us that Simeon is waiting for the Messiah. He is aware that things are not as they should be. Society is broken and he longs for God to do a great work. They’re waiting on God. In verse 38 Anna is a prophetess in the temple. She is devout and is waiting on the consecration of Israel. Later in Luke 23 we have Joseph of Arimathea. Normally when someone was crucified the body was thrown away. Joseph goes to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body. Joseph is described as devout, careful and waiting on the salvation of Israel. Simeon is also one of these people. He heard from God and goes to the temple. What God speaks is simple but remarkable.
Jesus is the hope of every nation. Most of us already know this but back then this wasn’t understood. This is Simeon’s message:
30for my eyes have seen your salvation 31that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Luke 2.30-32 (ESV)
Mary has done her sacrifice and Jesus is only about 40 days old. Simeon takes the baby Jesus and speaks these words over him. Simeon has been waiting for this. Jacob does a prayer of blessing over his sons. When we talk about being blessed today we think about finances. We might say that we are blessed to have the job we have. In the Bible this is a spoken blessing. Hearing from God is a blessing. Financial blessings are for a short time but God’s blessings last forever. Jacob said he was waiting on the salvation of the Lord. Jacob didn’t know Jesus yet he is longing for Jesus. Generation after generation people have prayed this prayer for thousands of years. They waited for the day God would redeem us. God has revealed to Simeon the hope of nations and generations is here. This is a blessing to proclaim that salvation has come! Here’s the one our hearts long for. This is a surprise!
Jesus is called a light to the Gentiles. Jesus didn’t just come for Israel but for all people on the earth. Remember Jonah? He was a mighty and faithful prophet who proclaimed to the people. He would have talked about God parting the sea to save the Israelites. God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and Jonah said, “I ain’t goin to Nineveh!” What God reveals to Simeon is amazing! Jesus is for everyone, the hope of all nations, and the light of the world. We just celebrated this on Christmas Eve together with glow sticks and candles. We believe Jesus is the light of the world. This is simple but profound. Simeon hears God. Simeon goes where God says to go and Simeon says what God tells him to say.
You bless others when you speak God’s truth over them.
33And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34And Simeon blessed them
Luke 2.33-34 (ESV)
Simeon blesses Jesus but he also blessed Joseph and Mary. Luke writes from Mary’s perspective. 40-60 years later Mary is probably telling Luke about these things, about when this guy approached them in the temple and how the marveled in wonder at what he said. This is one of these tremendous moments. It’s a new understanding. What God puts on your heart to say to someone may not seem like a big deal at that moment. There are people who have spoken into your life and God can use you in the same way in the lives of other people. Maybe someone is struggling and sometimes we wonder if we should say something. Simeon didn’t give them money. He speaks truth over their lives. There’s people you can bless by speaking into their lives.
Today, most of you were at the missions fair. Most of the things you saw there are things God is doing in our church family. Most of what you saw are ministries we have because our people responded to God. Ask God, “What do you want me to do? Where do you want me to go? What do you want me to say?” Being available is huge. If you have come to know Jesus as the Lord of your life God can and will use you to bless other people. Lots of these ministries happen right here in Asheboro. You don’t have to go to Thailand, but you can and if you’re interested you can come see me afterwards!
God is fitting all of us for eternity.
“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." Luke 2.34-35 (ESV)
When we think about blessings we think about good things but sometimes blessings are hard things to hear. Some of the greatest blessings are hard things spoken into our lives. Blessings can be laying out for someone, “this is what’s happening.” The revealing of our hearts is preparation for eternity. What we believe about Jesus exposes our heart. Do you believe Jesus is the hope of all nations? Do you believe Jesus came to die and to be resurrected so we be reconciled to the Father? Simeon tells Mary that what Jesus will do will be costly.
Jesus will change the way people think and act. This is what is means to turn darkness into light. These are powerful words. Luke 20 has similar words when Jesus is described as the cornerstone. If this stone falls on you it will crush you, but it’s also the same stone you can build your life upon. We are sinners, separated from a holy God but in Jesus there’s hope. Jesus is a sword that will pierce our hearts. In verse 35 Mary will stand at the foot of the cross. Mary will know Jesus was crucified for her sin. It pierces our heart to come to the reality that God died for us. The song Away in a Manger has the phrase, “fit us for Heaven.” What God is doing is shaping us for eternity with Him. If you have not given your life to Christ, know we can all be made whole. This is God’s work, shaping us. God used people to shape you and wants to use you to shape other people. What God has done in our lives is forgive us and shape us. He is our Hope.
Sermon Notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.
Sermon Notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.