Summary: Simeon waited for a long time for the opportunity to see the Lord’s Christ. This message discusses what He saw in Jesus.
Christmas is The Christ
Text: Luke 2:25-35
Introduction: Christmas has a lot to do with waiting and waiting seems to be hard work for most of us. True, on rare occasions, you do find people who are happy to wait. I’m reminded of the condemned man who, while awaiting his execution in the dead of winter, was asked what he wanted for his last meal. He said, "All I want is a big juicy watermelon." The warden complained, "Ah, come on...it’s December! How am I going to get you a watermelon?" "Don’t worry about it warden," said the condemned man. "I’m willing to wait ’til next year." For most of us, however, waiting is an ordeal rather than a good deal. Just ask our children if they enjoyed waiting for the opportunity to open their presents this morning. The truth is that they are no different from us and we all WANT WHAT WE WANT WHEN WE WANT IT! And yet one of the predominant themes of Christmas is delayed gratification. Think about it.
• The nation of Israel had to wait thousands of years for the Messiah to come and deliver them.
• Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, for failing to believe the words of God, had to wait nine months to speak again.
• Joseph and Mary had to wait at least as long for the birth of their son after the announcement from the angel Gabriel.
• And the magi waited 18-24 months before they were finally able to see Him. Yes, indeed, Christmas has a lot do with waiting!
Christian writer and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, imprisoned by Hitler during WWII, wrote to his fiancée on one lesson learned from life in prison: "A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent."
In the text we read this morning, we learn that Simeon had been looking for the appearance of the Lord’s Christ for a long time. Now to get a sense of what he was waiting for, you need to know a little bit more about the term "Christ." Translated in the Old Testament as "Messiah," it is not so much a name (although it is used that way at times -- see Acts 9:34) as it is a title expressing the work that Jesus came to accomplish. The word means "anointed."
• In the Greek translation of the Old Testament it was used to refer to King Saul by David (See 2 Samuel 1:14) who, in fact, was the Lord’s anointed to lead Israel (See 1 Samuel 10:1). Notice that Saul was anointed with oil which is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Later he prophesied in the Spirit as evidence that the hand of God was upon him (See 1 Samuel 10:10).
• "The Christ" or "the Lord’s Anointed" was a title Jesus accepted for Himself as well (See Matthew 16:13-17; John 4:25-26). As confirmation that He was the Lord’s anointed, the Father gave Him the Spirit without measure (See John 3:34). Christ had been set apart to God even before He had been conceived to accomplish His Father’s purposes (See Matthew 1:22-23). He was duty-bound to offer Himself in payment for our sin (See Matthew 16:21 - Note the use of the word "must"). This was the One for whom Simeon had patiently waited...the very hope of Israel. In what ways would He bring hope to the world? Let’s look at the text.
Background: Following the birth of Christ, Joseph and Mary went to the temple to observe two important ceremonies in obedience to the Word of God: the presentation of the child (See Numbers 18:15-16) and the purification of the mother (See Leviticus 12:1-4, 6-7). While they are there they ran into Simeon. His name means "one who hears and obeys." Simeon was called a "righteous and devout man." The first word indicates that he behaved well towards people. The second means that he took his religious duties seriously. He had been waiting patiently for the opportunity to see the Lord’s Christ before he died because God the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would be given this privilege. After years of waiting, at last the moment came and hope arrived in the form of a baby. Simeon, in his sheer exuberance offered up a prayer of thanksgiving to God and a prophecy concerning the child and his mother. In so doing, he directed our attention to three main ideas.
I. To see Christ is to see God’s promises fulfilled. (See Luke 2:29-31). God is the ultimate promise keeper. He always does what He says. As a matter of fact, it is impossible for God to make a promise and not fulfill it for that would constitute lying (See 1 Samuel 15:29). So here in this passage, Simeon acknowledges that God has in fact kept His word.