Summary: What is our reaction to the Saviour? What do we do with the message of Jesus Christ? That’s a good question for us, who hear and read often about the coming of Jesus in the flesh and about his dying on the cross. So what do we do now? How do treat the message of the gospel?
In this world there are scientists of all kinds. So many people, researching so many areas of knowledge. And among these many scientists, there are those who study human behaviour. They will even conduct social experiments because they want to know why people act and react the way we do.
You could say that Luke the gospel-writer is interested in a similar question. As he writes this book, he’s got an eye for human behaviour. And for him, this isn’t a scientific enterprise, it’s a spiritual one. Luke is watching for how different people respond to the meaning and the message of Jesus Christ.
Over the first two chapters of Luke, you see that a few times. For example, what does Zachariah do with the good news of salvation? He doubts, but then he sings. How does Mary react? She believes, and then she sings too. How about John the Baptist? Even as a baby, still in the womb of Elizabeth, his reaction is to leap for joy!
This is true throughout Christ’s life. Once they meet Jesus, everyone has to do something. There is always some kind of reaction to him—for better or for worse: it is either faith or unbelief; repentance or a hardening in sin. Even at the very end of Christ’s life, we see this. Think of the criminal on the cross, or the Roman centurion, how they react rightly when they catch a glimpse of who Jesus is.
And Luke wants everyone to consider it carefully: What is our reaction to the Saviour? What do we do with the message of Jesus Christ? That’s a good question for us, who hear and read often about the coming of Jesus in the flesh and about his dying on the cross. So what do we do now? How do treat the message of the gospel? Let us learn from the reaction of Simeon in Luke 2:25-32,
Simeon praises God for the arrival of consolation:
1) Simeon’s expectation
2) God’s fulfillment
3) Simeon’s peace
1) Simeon’s expectation: The first two chapters of Luke are action-packed. From the beginning, there are marvelous events taking place: angels appearing, an old priest struck dumb, a child born to senior citizens, people breaking out in song and prophecy—and of course, Jesus making his entrance.
But in verse 25, Luke gives us a “meanwhile.” While so much was happening around the arrival of Christ, for most people life went on as usual. And Luke focuses on one man in particular, an old fellow sitting on the sidelines: “There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout” (v 25).
Nothing too out of the ordinary. Here is Simeon, a man unknown to us apart from this one incident. Over the years, people have tried to identify him, to shed light on this mystery figure. There is an old tradition which says that Simeon was a man of high standing in Jerusalem at that time. He was said to have a prophetic spirit, and he possessed great learning too, for he was the son a great rabbi.
But we don’t know for sure. Instead of Simeon being a prominent citizen, we could just as well picture him as an average Israelite, just another face in the crowd: a senior citizen living a quiet life on a nameless street somewhere in the big city.
What we do know is that Simeon was a child of God. Luke tells us that he “was just and devout.” That is to say, he was a man who was serious about his relationship with God. He was faithful in observing the law, and he did so out of a genuine love for the LORD.
And as Simeon meditated on God’s law, as he listened to the priests explaining it at the temple, he often heard about the coming Messiah. It was something that clearly stood out on so many of the old scrolls, that God had promised a Saviour. For this reason, Luke says that Simeon “was waiting for the consolation of Israel” (v 25).
When do people “wait for consolation?” When they have suffered, when they are sad or disappointed. Simeon is waiting, because he’s been around for a while. From his long life, he knew God’s people carry a burden of sorrow because of sin. It was always there—sin—knocking God’s people down, causing grief, upsetting a right relationship with the LORD.
Sure, God had given the system of sacrifice. Simeon saw it whenever he went to the temple. The people could present their animal offerings, and be assured that God’s grace was upon them, that He’d really forgiven them. Yet the sacrifices seemed so incomplete, so temporary, and after a while, somewhat empty. Atoning for sin had to take something more than all this—something to really open up the floodgates of God’s mercy.