Summary: The light of Christ reveals the hearts of men and the heart of God.
First Presbyterian Church
Wichita Falls, Texas
Christmas Day 2011
LIGHT TO SEE BY
Luke 2:25-35 (NIV)
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
I was all alone. I lived with four other guys in a huge, old house just off the campus of Baylor University, but I was the only one home. I must have been twenty-one or twenty-two – a grown man, practically a college graduate – but I was afraid. There was usually a surplus of noise in the house, but, with everyone gone, it was quiet. And that’s when you could hear the creaking and the other sounds.
I tried sleeping with the lights out, but I just lay there, listening. In the dark, the unknown imposed itself on my imagination, and I, who knew better, convinced myself that I would be safer in the light. So, I got up and turned on – not just the light in my room – but every light in the house. Upstairs and downstairs. That old barn was lit up like a Christmas tree!
I lay across the bed, fully clothed – dressed for action, I guess – and I refused to close my eyes. If anything was going to ‘get’ me, it had to show itself in the full light of incandescent splendor. And…it had to catch me!
I lay there, like a child, waiting for the dawn, waiting for morning, waiting for day to come. If only daylight would come, everything would be better.
Simeon was an aged man that we meet here in Luke’s Gospel. He, too, was waiting for the light of day. Only the darkness that settled over his world was a more sinister thing than the mere dark of night. Luke tells us that he was ‘waiting for the consolation of Israel.’ Only one thing would console Israel, and that would be if God would come.
God had been strangely silent for as long as anyone could recall. For centuries now, no prophet had appeared to pronounce a ‘thus saith the Lord.’ Isaiah speaks of ‘people walking in darkness…living in the land of…shadow…’ (Isa. 9:2). Such darkness descends when there is not revelation from God, no light by which to see the ways of God. But Isaiah also tells us that the time would come when ‘the people walking in darkness [will] have seen a great light.’ At one point, he even speaks of it as something that has already happened: ‘Arise,’ he says, ‘shine, for your light has come’ (Isa. 60:1).
God had told Simeon that he would live to see this light. He must have wondered about this promise at times; he had waited through such a long night. It must have seemed as if daybreak would never come.
But it did. On a certain day, moved by the Spirit of God, he went to the temple. And there was, in the form of a tiny child, what Joseph Mohr, in his lovely carol ‘Silent Night,’ called ‘the dawn of redeeming grace.’ He took the child in his arms, and he knew right off that this was the Light of the world, the Sun of righteousness, the bright and Morning Star.
He spoke first to God and then to the child’s parents. To God he said those words we treasure as a late night prayer of our own: ‘Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation…, a light for revelation….’ God, who had been silent for so long, was now again revealing himself. The darkness of many centuries was now about to give way to the light.