Summary: God's revelation leads to salvation when we receive the Savior.
Simeon’s Salvation Song
Rev. Brian Bill
[Note: Parts of this message are adapted from Ray Pritchard’s sermon, “The Cradle and the Cross: Simeon’s Song”]
Does anyone know what a “Bucket List” is? The idea behind this is to make a list of the things you’d like to do or experience before you ‘kick the bucket.’ The term has been around for awhile but was popularized by a movie in which two terminally ill men go on a road trip in order to do all the things they want to do before they die. They end up going skydiving, climbing the pyramids and riding motorcycles on the Great Wall of China.
Would anyone here like to share any items on your bucket list? Some lists make you laugh, like gluing quarters to the sidewalk and watching people try to pick them up, sleeping in a hammock or staying awake in church. Others have listed more significant things like reconciling with a family member or finding one’s purpose in life.
As I clicked around online this week, I learned that most people have multiple things on their bucket lists. One site encourages people to put 101 items down on paper. As we come to the third song of Christmas, let’s take a look at an older man who has only one longing on his list. His name is Simeon and he was asking for something…actually, he was waiting for someone. When this person arrived, he would be happy to die.
Setting the Scene
In the first part of Luke 2, we read about the birth of Jesus. In verses 21-24 we hear about some events that took place in the weeks after He was born: “On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the law of the Lord: ‘A pair of doves or two young pigeons.’”
Three different aspects of the Old Testament Law are intertwined in these verses:
• Verse 21: All male children were to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth. This would have taken place in Bethlehem (see Genesis 17:9-14).
• Verse 22: After waiting 40 days after the birth of a son, mothers were to present themselves in the temple for their purification (see Leviticus 12).
• Verses 23-24: The Law also required that a mother and father present their firstborn son before the Lord to be “redeemed” by the offering of a sacrifice (see Exodus 13). This act of dedication was a way to publicly declare that their child belonged to the Lord. It’s in that spirit that we offer child dedications at PBC. If you’d like to have your child dedicated on Sunday, January 22nd, please contact the church office.
We learn here that Joseph and Mary not only obeyed the Angel when they named their boy Jesus but they also obeyed God. In fact, Luke mentions five times that they did something for their Son according to God’s Law. That’s a good challenge for us parents. We need to make sure we are doing what God wants for our family.
This passage also lets us know about the financial situation of Joseph and Mary. Leviticus 12 says that when a woman came for her purification she was to bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a pigeon for a sin offering. If, however, she could not afford a lamb, she could bring two doves or two pigeons instead. That made it possible for even poor women to obey the law of purification.
At this point Simeon enters the story line. Aside from what we are told in Luke 2, we know nothing about him. We don’t know his background, his hometown, his education, or even his occupation. We assume he was a priest, although the text doesn’t explicitly say so. We also believe he was an old man but we can’t be certain of that either. He simply appears on the stage of history as a bit player in the drama surrounding the birth of Christ. After his part is over, he fades from the scene, never to be heard from again.
Luke tells the story this way in verses 25-26: “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. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”