Summary: Living the Spirit-Filled life is essential to knowing God's direction in life.
We have made note of how this passage speaks of three sets of individuals who are each an example of what needs to be true of us if we are going to be in on what God is doing in our world in our day. Last time, we spoke of the importance of our living the Word-filled life, as we considered the example of Joseph and Mary. We also made note of Anna as an example of the Prayer-filled life. We’ll consider her example next week. Today, I want look to the example of Simeon, who teaches us about the importance of living the Spirit-filled life. But
before we do, it might be helpful to distinguish between the three ceremonies mentioned in our text.
The first ceremony is circumcision (v. 21). This would take place where the family lived; not at the temple. It occurred on the 8th day, as God directed Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14) and prescribed by the law of Moses (Leviticus 2:3). Naming the child was also associated with this.
The second ceremony is the presentation of the first born son. This was a requirement of the Law (Numbers 18:15-17). During the final plague God brought on Egypt, all the first-born were slain, both man and beast, while the first-born of those who applied the blood of the Passover Lamb to their door posts lived. In honor of this, an Israelite family redeemed their first-born; and acknowledge their child belonged to God. The redemption price for a first-born male Israelite a month or more old was set at five shekels (Numbers 18:16). This ceremony and the third ceremony were usually done on the same visit to the temple.
The third ceremony was the purification of Mary, required by the Law after the birth of a child. The mother was considered ceremonially unclean after the birth of a child (Leviticus 12). For a boy, the mother was unclean for 7 days and unable to enter the sanctuary for another 33 days. This means Jesus would have been around six weeks old at his presentation. It was on this occasion Simeon and Anna appeared, to announce that Jesus was God’s Messiah, the Savior of the world.
Simeon was at the right place at the right time to be in on what God was doing. Recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, he took the child in his arms and blessed God. After a lifetime of waiting for the Messiah, one can hardly imagine the joy he experienced! Think of it, a man who knew God held him in the palm of His hand, now held the Messiah in his arms! How did this happen?
We’re told Simeon was righteous and devout (v. 25); and was a man of faith, for he “looked for the consolation of Israel,” a reference to faith in the promises of God about blessing Israel by the coming of the Messiah. And Simeon was a man s filled with the Holy Spirit. Three times, Luke speaks of the Holy Spirit’s work in Simeon’s life.
1. He leaned upon the Holy Spirit - v. 25
It’s been pointed out that the life God calls us to live is impossible. The only person who perfectly lived a God-pleasing life was Jesus; and I’m not Him and neither are you! But as our Savior once said:
“What is impossible with man is possible with God.” - Luke 18:27 (NIV)
Simeon knew that it is impossible on our own, in our strength to live a life pleasing to God. That’s why we can’t afford to live a single day without being yielded to the Holy Spirit of God. Simeon accepted the truth declared long ago to one of the leaders of Israel, Zerubbabel:
“This is the message from the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Your help will not come from your own strength and power. No, your help will come from my Spirit.’ This is what the Lord All-Powerful says.” - Zechariah 4:6 (Easy to Read)
Of course, depending on the power of the Spirit means I have to trust God more than I trust myself. As long as I live trusting my ability, I won’t be able to live according to the enabling of God.
“And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’” - Genesis 2:16-17 (NIV)
Often when we read God’s command to the first man and woman, our focus is on what they were told not to do. That’s our way as a fallen people, to focus on the negative at the expense of the positive. If I were to show you a white sheet of paper with a black dot in the middle and ask what you see, you’d most likely say, “a black dot” not “a white paper.” So, when we look at this command of God to Adam and Eve, we often focus on the one tree they couldn’t partake of rather than the entire garden they were free to partake of.What does God say? “You are free . . .” Of course, that freedom was lost by man’s choice. But in Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, that freedom has been restored.