Summary: Advent sermon on the joy of Christ’s birth.
GIVE ME A REASON TO SHOUT
December 5, 2009
Pastor Brian Matherlee
A few weeks ago the Panthers played on Thursday night and Pastor Josh and I went along with Dave Lawlor and another friend. We had a great time and really appreciated the gift of the tickets. Pastor Josh and I were talking the following day about the amount of money, time, and effort put into that game. The people yelled and screamed, put down a lot of money and all of it was for something that doesn’t matter at all in life when you really get down to it. It’s a game. But people invest their lives in it.
Wouldn’t it be better to find something real to shout about? Something that would change our life and have lasting value?
In Luke 2 we find 3 expressions of praise regarding Jesus. Each of them teaches us something beautiful about our Lord’s plan of salvation. The first two were waiting for something specific the Lord had promised. That something was really a “someone”. The last-they weren’t waiting for anything.
a. Luke uses a Greek word that tells us how Simeon was waiting for the Messiah. He was “alert to his appearance, and ready to welcome him.”
b. Luke tells us Simeon was righteous and devout. This means he lived right before God and put into practice the principles of his faith in God.
c. It tells us he was waiting for the consolation of Israel. What does that mean? It sounds like he was the losing bidder on The Price is Right. It means he was longing for deliverance from the tough times they were facing as a nation.
d. Things weren’t going very well for Israel. They had experience 400 years of silence from God. No prophets, no spiritual leaders. The Romans were in charge and they were held captive by fear. They had no say in government and were at the mercy of Herod…a cruel turncoat who found great pleasure in oppressing the Jews.
e. Simeon hoped for deliverance because the Holy Spirit revealed to him (v. 26) that he would see the Messiah. If we compared Simeon’s wait to a car ride he would have been the one in the back seat peering out the front asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
f. This focus on Christ as a comforter was a popular title among the Jewish people of Simeon’s day. And why not? We long for God to answer the emptiness or hardship of life.
g. The need for comfort is a universal human need. Everyone struggles with loneliness, empty times, not feeling valued. Some even fall into desperation. This time of year sees a marked increase in these feelings that can lead to depression and strife…but it doesn’t have to be that way.
h. Simeon was promised comfort was coming in his lifetime.
i. God wants you to learn He can be the comfort you need. What better picture of God’s desire to bring comfort than His willingness to identify with our broken world. To walk where and how we have to walk and to reveal the loving heart of God that touches all those who feel abandoned and betrayed.
j. Verse 28 tells us that Simeon reached down and took Jesus out of Mary’s arms and began to praise God. Can you imagine how bizarre this scene must have been? How would we react today if someone came up, took your child and starting singing, “God, You came through, now let me die.”
k. Simeon’s story reminds me God loves me and has not forgotten my situation.
a. Anna was like Simeon…alert and ready to welcome.
b. She was a widow and had dedicated herself to fasting and praying in the temple. She never left. She was something special.
c. Where Simeon was waiting for comfort, Anna had a different desire she longed to see fulfilled for her people.
d. Anna was looking for redemption.
e. Redemption is related to the idea of captivity. Those who were enslaved could be redeemed (bought back) for a price. And that’s what it was going to take for humanity to bought back from the one holding their souls captive.
f. Anna understood that Israel was hopelessly bound and only God could set them free. I’m convinced that Anna had more in mind than political captivity. She would have known Israel’s history of spiritual rebellion, captivity, and God’s deliverance. Israel had a spiritual issue at the core of their captivity.
g. What she prayed for was spiritual release.
h. Perhaps that’s where you are today. You may be plagued with guilt of past sins. You may be trapped in the cycle of sin. Despite your best effort, you cannot solve your redemption problem. Slaves cannot pay their way out. Someone with great means must do it. God was Israel’s only hope. He’s your only hope.