Summary: The song of Simeon reveals that God makes His salvation available to all people through His people
According to the Billboard music charts, the top five Christmas songs for this week, based on airplay, are:
1. “Little Drummer Boy” by Pentatonix
2. “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey
3. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee
4. “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms
5. “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole
The majority of the songs in the Billboard top 100 Christmas songs are what I would call “feel good songs” that purport to celebrate “the spirit of Christmas” without any kind of focus at all on the real meaning of the incarnation of Jesus. I guess the good news is that at least there is some reference to the birth of Jesus in “The Little Drummer Boy”. But then you have to go all the way to the 56th most popular song – 16 spots behind that Christmas classic “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” until you get to “Silent Night” by the Temptations which is the next song I could find on the chart that even mentions the birth of the Savior, Jesus.
I’m saddened, but certainly not surprised, that our culture is willing to celebrate peace on earth and goodwill toward men without much thought at all about what that really means or how we obtain it. But what really concerns me is that even those who profess to be Christians have fallen into that trap as well. Over the last week, I’ve heard a national Christian radio station play songs like “Christmas Kiss”, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Let it Snow”. And their Christmas TV special began with the songs “Jingle Bell Rock” the theme song for a made for TV movie titled “The Heart of Christmas” that never mentions the name of Jesus, and “Jingle Bells”.
This morning, as we wrap up our series on the “Songs of Christmas”, we’ll conclude with the song of Simeon – a song that reminds us that while we like to think of Christmas as a time of year that makes people feel good and brings people together, from God’s perspective, the birth of Jesus is actually an historical event which divides and separates.
So turn in your Bibles to Luke chapter 2 and let’s let Luke set the stage for this song. You can follow along as I begin reading in verse 22:
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
(Luke 2:22-28, ESV)
We don’t know anything about Simeon other than what is revealed in this passage. He is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. His name, Simeon, was quite common in Israel. It means “God has heard”, which is certainly an appropriate name, given what we learn about him here.
Apparently he is an old man who has been waiting in the Temple day after day to get a glimpse of the promised Messiah. Imagine what that must have been like for Simeon. Every day he watched as couple after couple would bring their young children into the Temple, wondering if today would be the day that God would reveal to him that one of those baby boys was the promised Messiah.
Finally one day he entered the temple and saw a poor couple who really didn’t look any different than any of the other families Simeon had seen there day after day. Mary had come to the Temple to fulfill the Biblical instructions from Leviticus 12 that required her to bring an offering at the end of her 40 day period of purification. The fact that she and Joseph offered a pair of turtledoves was an indication that they were too poor to have possessed a lamb for that sacrifice. The couple who was too poor to sacrifice a lamb came to offer the Lamb of God in service to God.