Reuben Smith 12-2011
Luke 2:21-40 NIV
INTRO: God made clear proclamations of the first Christmas via prophesies in the Old Testament (such as Isaiah 7:14), the angelic visitations to Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, and in a different way the Magi. Mary and Joseph had direct visitations from heaven, they needed such encounters. God knew they would need to draw on the memories of them for the hardships and joys of the future.
Just days after the birth of the Christ Child Luke records two very different Christmas revelations and we can learn much from these two events. I feel it’s especially important for us today.
Luke was not an eye-witness to these events. There are three “we sections” in the book of Acts which record events to which Luke was a participant. These sections are quite detailed, especially the shipwreck of Acts 27, perhaps the greatest document of antiquity of sea-faring dangers and disasters. Luke is a detailed writer, very meticulous & careful. By his own words he “carefully investigated everything from the beginning…(to give an) orderly account…so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” His writings record many decades so when he pens an episode such as today’s text it is good to mine it’s riches. The Holy Spirit is in control here. We see an aged man and women continue the testimony of Christ that dominate Luke’s narratives.
They had no specific encounter w/ angels. They were ready to meet the Messiah.
In verses 22-24 we see that Mary and Joseph were the careful to follow the law. This is not unlike the life of Christ for He was the fulfillment of the law itself! I believe these verses are theologically loaded.
They brought grace into the temple according to the law. Jesus’ body is the Temple’s fulfillment! The temple was not God’s idea, it was David’s. God preferred a tent, hence the church! But that’s another message!
We know nothing of Simeon before or after this text. He was apparently a “layman”, not a priest or rabbi, not that we see here anyway. He was a student of the word and man of God no doubt. Nothing indicates the Simeon of Acts 13 is this Simeon. This was not an uncommon name by any stretch for the name Simeon (or Simonites) was mentioned 42 times in the Old Testament. God uses common men and women with common names, lives and families.
Simeon had qualities we are good to exhibit ourselves. We see he was….
Righteous – Right w/ God
Devout – Not double-minded, he was committed to the one true God
Waiting for the consolation of Israel – Patient concerning God’s promises
Holy Spirit was upon him – Anointed. Did not grieve the Spirit
Move into the temple courts by the Spirit – Listened to the Spirit
Recognized Jesus as the truly unique Son of God – There were surely other babies to be seen that day however he recognized Jesus’s uniqueness. For an amazingly poetic Old Testament passage on the uniqueness of Christ see Song of Songs 5:9-16. He is far superior and to be desired above all others! Jesus Christ is completely unique.
His prayer: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
Notice he begins with God’s sovereignty as did the first corporate prayer of Christians in Acts 4. This is important because God’s sovereignty is a recognition of both His power and will (see Acts 4:28.) Simeon hung on to God’s sovereignty for many years as we see in his famous prayer above (as you have promised, dismiss your servant, your salvation, you have prepared, a light for revelation, the glory of your people.…)
He saw is graduation into glory as something to look forward to. For years he longed to see Yahweh God face to face but did not want to enter heaven’s gates without first seeing the Messiah of God! Think of it, holding one who is all God and all man outweighed the streets of Gold!! Imagine living with the promise to see the Christ before leaving and dwelling in glory!!! This is a sign of Christian maturity for even Paul felt the upward desire for home but the draw to continue here until his race was finished.
His prophecy: He turns to Mary and says “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
This again is full of riches. Mary would need to hear these sayings, as hard as they must have been to hear at the time. This is a “statement-of-fact” prophecy not unlike Agabus in Acts 21. It was not meant to discourage her young heart, it was to prepare her and confirm again that God’s hand was indeed on her and the events she experienced and witnessed. Mary would feels as though she had been “stabbed with a dagger” (CEV) in witnessing the Passion week and all thoughts would be revealed.
This passage is worth reading in the Message Bible: “This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many in Israel, A figure misunderstood and contradicted—
the pain of a sword-thrust through you—
But the rejection will force honesty,
as God reveals who they really are.”
Not only did Simeon recognize the Christ Child, he blessed Mary and Joseph and by the Holy Spirit prepared them for the joys and sufferings that were ahead. Paul was prepared for sufferings also so we see that this is in alignment with God’s love and methods.
Anna was a prophetess. The only other place in the New Testament where we see prophetesses are Philip’s four daughters in Acts 21.
Anna was known for her faithfulness. She was once married but became a widow after seven years of marriage. Depending on how the greek is rendered she was either 84 when she died or she was a widow for 84 years. She was a worshiper. She fasted and prayed. These qualities precluded the recognition of the Christ Child.
Anna goes down in history for recognizing the glorious event of Simeon with Jesus. This shows she was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s ways. She began to tell all who were looking for Jerusalem’s redemption of the Christ Child.
They possessed qualities which enable the most enjoyment of Christmas: the richest and most satisfying Christmas experience. Of course, this is not walled into this time of year only.
They had no shopping deadlines or Christmas countdowns. The announcement was prompted by the Holy Spirit (who always points to Christ!). They were also unashamed in their proclamations.
What Luke records in these short verses are meant to bless, encourage, and even warn today.
Perhaps the most important revelations we see here is found in verse 30 – Jesus is Salvation. He is the hope for all nations. He is your hope today. If you have not made Him Lord of your life there’s no time than the present to call out to Jesus as your Lord. He is not a Baby anymore but a risen Lord, Supreme Authority, who washes away the sins of all who call to him with a repentant heart towards God. He loves you with an everlasting love. Come to Him today, you will be made brand new!
Simeon and Anna provide the best examples of the true thankfulness of Christmas, they were folks who longed as a part of life. Their longing was fulfilled in Christ! May it be so with us!