Summary: A message designed to make listeners aware that God wants to reveal himself to them this Christmas in a way that just might surprise them.
Before reading today’s text I want to give you a little background or context. The passage takes place on the Temple grounds about 40 days after Jesus’ birth. Joseph and Mary have gone to the Temple for a couple of reasons. First, it was customary for a family to dedicate their first born son to God’s service and then redeem him back with an offering of five shekels or a couple of pigeons. This buy back was designed to remind the Jewish people of their redemption from slavery to Egypt. The second reason they came to the Temple was so that Mary could make the required offering for her purification after child birth.
Also at the Temple Mount that day were two elderly characters. Simeon, a godly man who was fulfilling his rotational duties at the Temple as a priest and Anna, a prophetess, who had been going to the Temple to worship every day since she became a widow.
Hear now the word of the Lord and what happened on the Temple mount that day so long ago.
“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. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel (FAN-yoo-el), of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at the very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2.25-38)
The word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
Simeon was also looking for something significant to happen during his lifetime. Simeon, like many other Jews was looking for the Messiah. Every time the Jewish nation was under the domination of a foreign power the people looked for the Messiah to come. The Jews had been looking for their Messiah for centuries. Now, under Roman rule the Jews looked for a bright, handsome, courageous, and godly man to lead them back to God and God’s favor. The Jews were looking for someone who could make Israel into a godly powerhouse like it used to be when David was king. Simeon was looking for one who would rebuild and restore Israel to its rightful place among the nations food chain. Simeon, a Jew, was looking for the one who would transform his life, the life of a nation, and the nations of the world. If Simeon had a bucket list, the list of to do’s he wanted to accomplish before dying, it included being able to see Israel’s messiah.
Simeon was looking for the Messiah with great anticipation because God told him that the day was coming when he would see this Messiah with his own eyes.
It wouldn’t surprise me if he felt like a child the week of Christmas who keeps asking his or her parents if it’s Christmas yet. I wonder if Simeon didn’t wake up every morning asking God, “Is it time? Is it time?” “Is this the day?”
And then one day he went to the Temple to perform his duties when a couple placed a six-week old baby boy in his arms. At first he probably didn’t think anything about it. It was just another baby boy to dedicate. But then something happened. The bible doesn’t tell us exactly what happened, but sometime between turning towards an altar and blessing the boy he was made aware that the 10-pound bundle of boy in his arms was the Messiah he longed for. The hope of Israel was in the palms of his hands. The joy of the world was looking into his eyes. Simeon was gazing upon God’s glory before him. And on top of it all, he had the privilege of dedicating him to God in the Temple. How do you think Simeon felt? I can only imagine what it must have been like to be one of the few people on this earth to hold, to touch, to see, to hear, and to smell the Messiah, Jesus.