Simeon’s Exemplary Life and Message (Luke 2:25-35)
There are some people in the world who feel they might be too old, too limited or too marginalized to be of much use to God. Simeon is proof positive that God uses anyone who is submitted to the Holy Spirit. This offers great hope, confidence and assurance that God continues to use the weak of the world to shame the things which are strong.
When Irving S. Olds was chairman of the U.S. Steel Corporation, he arrived for a stockholders’ meeting and was confronted by a woman who asked, "Exactly who are you and what do you do?" Without batting an eye, Olds replied, "I am your chairman. Of course, you know the duties of a chairman--that’s someone who is roughly the equivalent of parsley on a platter of fish."
Bits and Pieces, June 27, 1991, p.7.
If you do not want to feel useless or under utilized, Simeon’s life is full of great lessons for us this morning.
"Now there was a man named Simeon who lived in Jerusalem. He was a righteous man and very devout. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and he eagerly expected the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and prpaised God saying,
"Lord, now I can die in peace! As you promised me. I have seen the Savior you have given to all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations (to all 24,000 ethnic groups on the planet) and he is the glory of your people Israel.
Joseph and Mary were amazed at what was being said about Jesus. Then Simeon blessed them and he said to Mary, "This child will be rejected by man in Israel and it will be their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy to many others. Thus, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul." (Luke 2:25-35)
Illustration: Avoid being put on the shelf:
Nicolo Paganina (1782-1840) the great Italian violinist, willed his fine instrument to his home city of Genoa. His bequest carried one condition. The violin was never to be played; it would simply be placed on display. But that’s not good for a finely crafted stringed instrument. It needs to be used and handled regularly if its beauty and value are to be retained. As a result of Paganini’s request, his marvelous violin has become nothing more than a decaying form. It has wasted away as a museum piece.
The following are several characteristics of Simeon that we gain greater appreciation for all people who are devoutly seeking to do God’s will at whatever stage, status or service level they may be in:
1. DEVOUT - Simeon was an earnest, sincere and spiritual man who loved the Lord with all His heart, soul, strength and mind. (Luke 10:27) One of the most important pre-requisites to be used of God is to be devoted to Jesus Christ, His purposes, and processes above that of our own. You can tell how much God will use a person based upon their devotion to Him, His word and His will above any other factor.
2. FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT - Simeon was controlled by the Spirit so that others recognized that it was not unusual for God to speak to him. When a person is full of the Spirit it means they are submitted completely to His control, His leading and His enabling power. People who are filled with the Spirit are credible because they have knowledge, insight and wisdom that is supernaturally endowed.
3. PATIENT - Simeon was nearly eighty years old and had waited a long time to see the Savior. Let us be relentless in our resolve to wait upon God to fulfill HIs promises to us. Let us not get weary thinking that we need to run ahead of God and do things in our own strength, wisdom or manipulative abilities. Love is patient - long-suffering and kind. Let us wait on the Lord and be of good courage and He will strengthen our hearts. (Psa 27:14)
4. PROPER PERSPECTIVES - Simeon was given proper perspectives from his understanding of Old Testament prophecy. He knew that the Messiah would be a light to the nations, not just to Israel. He saw the Savior as the one who would offer deliverance, salvation and freedom from death, hell, judgment and sin. Simeon saw how the Savior would be the beacon to share God’s plan of salvation for all 24,000 people groups on the planet not just to the Jews. Let us see the Savior as the light to all people groups so we can overcome any parochial thinking that might limit our perspectives.
Christ did not come to abolish but fulfill. There is continuity with the old. The best O.T. Jewish saints are most receptive to the new age.
5. PREPARED OTHERS FOR REJECTION - Simeon warned Mary and Joseph "This child will be rejected by man in Israel and it will be their undoing." People reject Christ to their own hurt. When people refuse to trust Christ as their Savior they do so to their own self-destruction. Rejecting Christ is the worse sin a person can commit. Rejecting Christ means an eternity of enslavement to sin, evil and judgment. Rejecting Christ means one remains at enmity with God and separated from His grace. Simeon’s warning is something that we need to give to others lest they too have to suffer needlessly.
6. BLESSED OTHERS - Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph by speaking the truth in love. Let us not be shy about speaking the truth in love as it sets people free and gives them a clue about God’s will which is for welfare and not for evil to give them a future and hope. Let us be used as a channel of God’s blessings to others throughout all facets and days of our lives.
Application: Let us trust the Lord to give us opportunities to be a blessing to those who are of the household of faith. Obey God when He prompts you to be a blessing and do not worry if others misunderstand or revile or say things falsely on account of Jesus. Rejoice and be glad for your reward in heaven is great for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. No doubt Simeon must have taken some criticism for stating the truth, but he knew that the Savior is a total deliverer.
6. GOD USES ANYONE WHO SUBMITS TO HIS WILL - Sometimes we may think that people are too old, too frail or too limited to be of much use to God, but Simeon’s life is a rejection of that notion. God used Simeon to give clarity, visibility and confirmation that the baby Jesus was indeed the Messiah who had come to earth to save all people from their sins. Do not overlook anyone who is willing to be used to complete Christ’s great commission. Do not underestimate what God can do through the weakest of vessels.
7. BE EXPECTANT - Simeon lived everyday with a hopeful and expectant attitude that God would use Him to see and do great things. People who live without hope are prone to depression, discouragement and despair. When we stay in the word we will live with great anticipation of how God can use us. People who have yielded their rights to God are those who fully persuaded that what God has promised He is able to perform. (Rom. 4:20,21) Let us not stagger through unbelief but grow strong in faith, hope and confident expectation of what God will do through us.
8. BE THANKFUL - Simeon thanked God for allowing Him to see the Messiah. Too many people are not thankful for what they have in Christ. The famous chorus, "Give thanks, with a grateful heart. Give thanks, to the Holy One. Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ. His Son. And now let the weak say I am strong. Let the poor say I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us, give thanks." Thankful people learn how to be better rather than bitter from every encounter. Let us obey God by rejoicing always, praying without ceasing and in everything giving thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (I Thes 5:16-18)
9 REJECTION BY SOME MEANS ACCEPTANCE FOR OTHERS - In verses 34,35 God reveals the great joy that resound to those who trust Christ as their Savior. God’s plan is to bring the light of salvation to the Gentiles through the Israel’s rejection. God uses Simeon to declare that rejection is predicted. Christ will not be well received by all. For many he will be a sign to be scoffed at, spoken against and rejected. And when men speak against Christ they stumble and fall. This too is an application of Isaiah’s prophecy (8:14; 28:16) which both Peter (1 Peter 2:6-8) and Paul adapted. Paul indicated in Romans 9:32,33 that Israel failed to attain righteousness because "they have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ’Behold I am laying in Zion a stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall; but he who believes in Him will not be put to shame."’ The way God saw fit to bring salvation to the Gentiles (to us) was to lay a stone in Jerusalem that the vast majority of Israel would stumble over.
Let us not feel that people are rejecting us when we present Christ, they are rejected the only Savior of their world at their own peril.
10. CHRIST IS THE REVEALER OF HEARTS - Jon Piper, Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist church in Minneapolis, points out the following in his insightful sermon on Simeon,
"There is a warning here that Paul expresses in Romans 11:19-21. He says to the Gentile Christians, "You will say, ’Branches (unbelieving Israelites) were broken off so that I might be grafted in! That’s true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you." Thus when Simeon says that Christ is set for the rise and fall of many and for a slandered sign, that thoughts of many hearts may be revealed, we understand that what is being revealed is whether a person has a heart humble enough to trust Christ alone for salvation or whether the person’s haughty and must be brought low.
This is a fundamental truth that will affect the way we read our Bibles: with Jesus comes a new era but the old when properly understood is not against the new but in harmony with it." (Jon Piper, Dec 28th, 1980 sermon)
Invitation: Meet the Messiah, before you meet death. That is an application from the life of Simeon. Do not wait as the Bible teaches, "As it is appointed unto men to die once and after that comes judgment." (Heb. 9:27) God always keeps His appointments be sure that you are responding to His call today.
Application: Know that the truth often hurts. Preach the word when it is convenient and when it is not. Whether it is welcome or not. Do all that you can to convince them of what is true. Reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction. Be unflagging and inexhaustible in your your teaching. ( 2 Tim. 4:1,2)
Conclusion: Take the promises from God, as Simeon did, and turn them to fact. Faith is the confident persuasion that what God has promised He will perform. Know that your cup overflows, as promised in the Psalm 23, appropriate that fact and rest, hope and praise God for His truth and love for you today.
Illustration: Our pastor, an avid golfer, was once taking part in a local tournament. As he was preparing to tee off, the organizer of the tournament approached him and pointed to the dark, threatening storm clouds which were gathering.
"Preacher," the organizer said, "I trust you’ll see to it that the weather won’t turn bad on us."
Our pastor shook his head. "Sorry," he replied. "I’m sales, not management!"