Summary: A Christmas Message.
WAITING FOR CHRISTMAS
INTRO: Only children Mark the days from the calendar until Christmas. For most of us, the days before Christmas pass in a flurry of activity and leave us just short of getting everything done. Some preparation is creative, some is not.
The old prophet Simeon is seldom seen as a lesson on how to wait for Christmas, but he should be.
I. SIMEON WAITED UNSELFISHLY.
He awaited “the consolation of Israel” (v. 25). He could have died complaining about his personal situation; instead, his vision of salvation for his country and the world (v. 31) kept him alive.
ILLUS: Late in life George Frederick Handel, the great composer, lost his health. His life seemed hopeless. His right side was paralyzed, and his money was gone. He faced imprisonment for his debts. He was tempted to give up. He did not. In fact, from somewhere within himself or from beyond himself, he mustered enough hope and enough strength to compose his greatest work — the Messiah.
II. SIMEON WAITED REVERENTLY.
The words used to describe Simeon — “righteous,” “devout,” “inspired” (“moved” in NIV) (vv. 25, 27) — all suggest that Simeon trusted God to bring about what the world needed. We might read between the lines and assume that the old man went to the temple daily and that his time there was spent in prayer.
ILLUS: Expectancy must surely have been a part of the life of the German priest who was asked why he always removed his hat when he gave catechism to the children of lowly coal miners. The priest answered that he never knew who might be among those children; one might change the world. His most famous student was Martin Luther.
III. SIMEON WAITED EXPECTANTLY.
He was looking for the consolation of Israel (v. 25). His presence in the temple and his recognition of the baby indicate that his dream was active and current.
ILLUS: From Talmudic literature comes a story of one rabbi, Joshua Ben Levi, who asked Elijah when the Messiah would come. Elijah sent him to the gates of the city, where he found the Messiah, and the rabbi asked the Messiah when he would come. The Messiah told him, “Today.” The rabbi returned to Elijah, who asked him what the answer was.
Rabbi Joshua said that the Messiah had deceived him: he announced he would come today, but he was not come. Elijah answered, “This is what he told you: ‘Today if you would listen to His voice’” (Psalm 95:7).
Those who think they have arrived have lost their way. Those who think they have reached their goal have missed it. Those who think they are saints are demons. An important part of the spiritual life is to keep longing, waiting, hoping, and expecting.
IV. SIMEON WAITED OPENLY.
Vv. 26-27, indicate that Simeon lived in such closeness to the Spirit of God that a miracle could happen to him. Though an old man, his were the eyes of a child on Christmas morning.