Summary: Open Your Ears to See the Savior 1) In Bethlehem’s Babe 2) In the Lord’s Supper (adapted from sermon by Jonathan Werre)
All little Johnny got from Grandma this Christmas was a piece of paper. It wasn’t even pretty paper like a Christmas card. It was just a dull grey sheet with lots of writing. There wasn’t even room to draw a picture on it. What good was such a paper to a five year old? As Johnny mumbled his thanks he almost missed what Grandma said about that paper. What was that about thousands of dollars? This paper would be worth that much some day? How? Little Johnny had never heard of stocks before but if Grandma was right, this piece of paper wasn’t so bad after all. In fact it was the most expensive thing he would receive that Christmas!
Did you receive a Christmas gift like little Johnny’s last week – a gift that was a lot more precious than it first looked? That describes God’s Christmas gift to us, doesn’t it? God gave us a baby named Jesus. Great! Babies are fun but they’re a lot of work. Well if you look more closely at Jesus, you’ll see that this baby came to work for us. You’ll see this better if you first open your ears to what God says about Jesus. Let’s do that today. Let’s open our ears so we see our Savior better in Bethlehem’s Babe, and in the Lord’s Supper.
Our text introduces us to a man named Simeon. Simeon had been told by the Holy Spirit that he wouldn’t die until he saw the promised Messiah. Can you imagine Simeon’s excitement? Like a child who can’t wait for Christmas, Simeon probably woke up every morning asking: “Today, Lord? Will I see the Messiah today?” That day finally came about six weeks after Jesus’ birth. The Holy Spirit prompted Simeon to go to the temple where he found Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus. When Simeon saw Jesus he took the babe in his arms and cried out: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:29, 30).
Had a crowd gathered to see what Simeon was excited about they would have seen a squirming, diapered baby boy - cute, perhaps, but the “Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” God had promised? As a rule babies shatter peace, not bring peace. What did Simeon see in this babe flanked by poor peasants from the north country? Simeon saw what his eyes had been trained by his ears to see. God said that he would send his Son born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) and that this child would save the people from their sins (Isaiah 9:6). Because Simeon had heard and believed these promises what he saw in the Babe of Bethlehem was no ordinary child; he saw his Savior.
Would our eyes have seen the Savior in that baby? It’s hard to say because we weren’t given the privilege of being in the temple that day. We do, however, have the privilege today of seeing our Savior in another unlikely place – Holy Communion. While there is a trend in North America to downplay the significance of the Lord’s Supper and to see it as just a symbolic meal, God wants us to open our ears to what he says about this holy meal so that we see our Savior there. God makes it clear that it’s not just bread and wine we receive in the Lord’s Supper; we also receive Jesus’ body and blood (1 Corinthians 11:27). Does it look that way? No. You can’t taste Jesus’ blood when you drink the wine but let your eyes be trained by what God has told your ears. The Lord’s Supper is no play-acting; it’s the read deal. Jesus comes to you, just you, and says: “Here, sinner, eat and drink. Yes, I know better than you how sinful you are. If you weren’t such a sinner, I wouldn’t have invited you to my supper in the first place. But look at what I did for you. I hung on a cross to pay for your sins. I rose again to defeat death. Now taste and see my forgiveness for you. It’s as real as the taste of the bread and wine on your tongue. I say to you without any reservation at all that my Father, the Spirit, and I are at peace with you. We feel nothing but tender love for you. We open our home to you. Our home is your home forever!” Because Jesus is really here in the Lord’s Supper, it’s fitting that we sing Simeon’s song after Communion. “Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace according to your word. For my eyes have seen your salvation…” (Nunc Dimittis, Christian Worship, p. 24).