Summary: The Perseverence, the Perception and Prophetic Message of Simeon
Candlemas Lk: 2:22-40
The perseverance of Simeon
Story: On 12th February 1809 a baby boy was born in a one-room log cabin with a dirt floor on a farm in Kentucky.
He grew up to be a man of rugged determination. And although he had less than a year of formal education, he succeeded in becoming a lawyer.
However he REALLY wanted to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the world and so entered politics.
He believed that if he was going to have the maximum impact, he would have to become president of the United States.
However, he tried and he tried – and he failed and he failed.
In fact, his list of failures was embarrassing:
YEAR FAILURES or SETBACKS
1832 Lost job and was defeated for state legislature
1833 Failed in business
1835 His fiancée died
1836 Had nervous breakdown
1838 Defeated for the position of Illinois House Speaker
1843 Defeated for nomination for Congress
1846 Elected to Congress but lost renomination in
1849 Rejected for the position of land officer for
1854 Defeated for U.S. Senate
1856 Defeated for nomination for Vice-President
1858 Again defeated for U.S. Senate
But in 1860 he was elected President of the United States.
You have probably guessed that I was talking about - Abraham Lincoln, the greatest of all American Presidents.
His persistence paid off. I’d have given up long ago but Lincoln persevered.
He didn’t allow setbacks to deflect him from his goal.
And so it was with Simeon in our Gospel reading this morning. He was a man of perserverence and his persistence bore fruit.
I would like to look at three things about Simeon.
First, he was a man of Persistence.
Second, he was a man of Perception and
Thirdly I’d like to look at his Prophetic message.
So let us start with his persistence. Simeon was a man of perseverence.
The Gospel passage tells us that
“It had been revealed to (Simeon) by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (v.26).
It would have been easy for Simeon to GIVE UP as time passed and nothing seemed to happen.
But for Simeon God had spoken - and he believed God, even though the fulfillment was a long time coming. That is why he was able to respond when the Holy Spirit prompted him to go into the Temple.
Story: Persistence is something that is alien to our
modern culture. We live in a fast moving society.
We want everything to happen instantly – something that has been called the McDonald- isation of society.
If it doesn’t happen instantly – we give up.
But I think Keith Green’s comment goes to the nub when he said “Just because I go to Mc.Donalds - doesn’t make me a hamburger.”
We don’t have to “to go with the flow”. We can decide to be different
Endurance and perseverence are still important godly attributes for the Christian today.
If you were to have asked Simeon what the greatest day of his life was – I’m sure he would have said that it was when he saw the Messiah of Israel, the baby Jesus. It was worth the wait.
The second thing I noticed about Simeon was his perception.
He recognised God’s answer to his prayers-and so recognised the Messiah.
We read that Simeon was described as a “devout and righteous man” (Lk2:25). In other words, he was a man close to God.
And his perception, I believe came from being attune to the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was brought into the Temple,Simeon wasn’t there. However, Luke tells us that “moved by the Spirit, he went into the Temple Courts” (Lk. 2:27)
His life style when hand in hand with God’s communication with him.
I think the key to Godly perception comes firstly from the way we live – Simeon was ” a devout and righteous” man and secondly from being close to the Holy Spirit.
Prayer is simply being in tune with the Spirit and the Bible has been given to us to reveal, amongst other things how we should live.
And as Simeon was holding Jesus in his arms, he perceived that Jesus was the Messiah - for whom he had been waiting . He expressed this in the words of the Nunc Dimittis.
We heard it read in the Gospel reading this morning in a modern form. And we will be singing Timothy Dudley Smith, the former Bishop of Thetford’s poetic paraphrase at the end of the service.(see hymn below)
However, I’d like to read to you in its more familiar form - from the Book of Common Prayer
Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace; according to thy word
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation