Summary: Christmas Series
Jesus is Coming: To Provide a Future
Sunday, December 28th, 2003
Well, the waiting is over. Christmas has come and gone for another year. Sometimes I think waiting for Christmas is as much fun or more fun than actually waking up on Christmas morning. There is such a sense of anticipation, of what’s coming and all of the things involved with the waiting. We try different tricks to help ourselves and our kids with the wait for Christmas. We have advent calendars and chains. Each one designed to count down the days and to build up that sense of excitement for Christmas day.
Over the last few weeks we have looked at some of the people who had been waiting for that first Christmas. We looked at Mary and how she was waiting eagerly for the fulfillment of God’s promise to her. We have talked often about the Jewish people and their anticipation of a Savior that was promised and was to come. We talked about Zechariah and Elizabeth, who had all but given up on what they were waiting for and yet they also found fulfillment from God that first Christmas season as they held their little boy, John, that God had given to them. Christmas seems to be about waiting. And to those who wait, we’ve seen, God delivers above and beyond anyone’s expectations.
I want to wrap up this series on the theme “Jesus is Coming,” by looking at another aspect of what He brought with Him. Jesus is Coming, to bring hope for a future. No one knew this more than a little old man named Simeon. We find his story in Luke.
Read Luke 2:21-35
The story of Simeon and his encounter with the Christ child is one that has always amazed me. Here you have an old man, through whom God has chosen beforehand to reveal the Truth behind this infant’s birth and the coming ministry of his son. He promises this man that he will live to see the Messiah. This is a man and a story that is often left out of the Christmas story altogether. You don’t have any manger scenes with Simeon in them, he is not a major player in Christmas pageants or Cantatas. Yet to this simple old man, the plan for the future of mankind is revealed and in his encounter with Christ and his family Simeon cuts to the heart of the Christmas message, that Christ has come to give hope to the hopeless. He has come to provide a future and it’s a message that has not changed in the years since that encounter and there is much we can learn from this unlikely messenger of God.
Before we take a look at Simeon, I think it would be helpful to look at some of the background of this passage. What was it that brought Mary and Joseph to the temple and what does that tell us about the early life and upbringing of Christ.
There were three significant events that were taking place here in this story.
1) The first, we read in verse 21 was Christ’s circumcision. Now, this had taken
place several weeks earlier. Christ was, according to Jewish law, circumcised on the eighth day and given the name Jesus. God had confirmed his covenant with Abraham through the practice of circumcising Jewish males. This circumcision represented entering into that covenant, God’s promise to Israel, a promise of prosperity and blessing, and a promise of relationship. Upon circumcision, the boy officially becomes a part of the nation of Israel and is an heir of the covenant. So, Luke mentions this ritual to ensure that the reader understands that even though this was Messiah, he was man. And as man, he went through the same rituals and observed the same requirements of the law as any other little boy. He was Jewish. His name was the Hebrew name, Yeshua which means literally, Salvation. Luke also reminds the reader of the origins of the name Jesus, that it was the angel of God who had commanded him to be named this. Luke is a practical man and wants to make sure that the reader understands that this is the one the angel spoke of to Mary.
So, Christ had already been through the rite of circumcision, but there were two other ceremonies and sacrifices that had to be made after the birth of a child and that is why Joseph’s family was at the temple on this day.
2) The next event that had to take place according to the Jewish law was the
purification of Mary:
LEV 12:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Say to the Israelites: `A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. 3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. 4 Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. 5 If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.