Summary: God makes the decisions
In God’s Time
We all have dreams. I’m not talking about the kind of dreams you have when you’re sleeping. I’m thinking more along the lines of the kind that kids have. Kids often dream about what they want to be when they grow up. You know, things like being a singer, doctor, professional athlete, astronaut are some of the more popular ones.
When I was growing up, my dream was to play first base for the Chicago Cubs. Now, chances of that happening are very slim, especially considering they just signed Derek Lee to large contract. So that dream isn’t likely to come true.
Most of you probably had similar childhood dreams. Maybe you wanted to do exactly what your dad did. Maybe you wanted to go into the family business. Maybe you are living your childhood dream. Is there anyone here today doing what you planned on doing when you were a child?
Chances are you’re not. Our childhood dreams generally fade away as we get older. We grow up, our priorities change, and our dreams become just memories of what might have been. But this morning we are going to talk about Simeon, a man whose dream did come true.
Let’s look at the story of Simeon. Our text for today is Luke 2:21-35. Now the first twenty verses of this chapter are very familiar to most of you, especially if you were here for our Christmas Eve service. Luke tells about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the angels’ announcement to the shepherds of that birth, and the visit they make to see the Baby Jesus.
Now, in Verse 21, Luke tells us that eight days after the baby was born, He was circumcised and given the name "Jesus," just as the angel had said.
Every Jewish male was to be circumcised. This rite was so sacred and so important in the Jewish tradition that they would, even if that 8th day fell on the Sabbath, still perform the circumcision. Of course, the Jewish people did no work unnecessarily on the Sabbath, so obviously, this was a very important rite.
And it was on the 8th day when the circumcision took place that the child would be officially named. We know that that name was given to Mary way before the birth of our Lord. Now we’re pretty much required to name our children in the hospital before we take them home. But in this society they did not name the child until the 8th day. And so on the 8th day when Jesus was circumcised as a Jewish male, they named Him, officially, Jesus.
Then in Verse 22, Luke jumps ahead to forty days later, when Mary and Joseph go to the temple. They go to the temple for 2 other important Jewish rites. The first was Mary’s purification rite following childbirth, which is described in the Old Testament in Leviticus 12.
The second rite, made on the 40th day, was to consecrate, dedicate, their firstborn son to God, just as had been done in Exodus 13. This is similar to what we do in our baptismal service when I make the mark of the cross on the forehead and say the words, “child of the covenant, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.”
During these two rites a sacrifice was to be made. Often a lamb was sacrificed, but if they couldn’t afford a sheep, then two doves or pigeons could be offered instead. The offering presented by Joseph and Mary suggests their modest economic standing.
And we are told that when this occurs, there was a man in the temple, Simeon, an old man who had been told that he would not die until he saw the consolation of Israel appear.
Now, you have to realize – Joseph & Mary didn’t come into the Temple carrying a sign like you see sometimes in airport waiting areas that declare: "The Smiths." They weren’t carrying a sign saying: “This is the Messiah”
Instead, they were part of the ordinary crowd of people who came into the Temple every day. In fact, if ANYTHING made them stand out in the crowd, it was the fact that they were poor.
Why is it that when we buy a car, maybe with a special color and the next day we see about a dozen of them out on the highway but before that, we never saw that color? What happens? Were they out there on that highway before? Of course they were. But all of a sudden we are in tune, visually, to see.
Henry David Thoreau said that, "Many an object is not seen though it falls within the range of the visual eye." Thoreau talks about the fact that if it is not seen with the intellectual eye it may not been seen with the visual eye. The fact is, it may be in front of us, but we may not see it. How true that is.