Summary: Simeon had waited all his life for this moment. And there are 3 things we need to notice about it.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
ILL. There was a family who had no interest in spiritual things, & therefore never went to S.S. or church. But one Christmas their little boy was invited by his best friend to attend the S.S. Christmas Program, & he went. This was a new experience for him, & when he got home he was all excited & eager to tell what he had learned about the very first Christmas. Here is a part of what he told them:
"Well, way back then they didn’t have any Santa Claus, so they had these three skinny guys riding around on camels passing out gifts. They didn’t have Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer to guide them through the darkness. So they had to use this bright, shiny light that kind of lit up all the world."
A. Well, I can understand why that little boy was confused about Christmas, but of course we don’t have that problem. We know all about Christmas, & we’re busy getting ready for it, stringing lights, purchasing gifts, addressing cards & getting them in the mail.
We look at the calendar & wonder how we’re going to get to all the places we need to go, & see all the people we’d like to see, & do all the things we’d like to do.
But sometimes I wonder, as we celebrate Christmas, if people will ever get beyond the decorations, & focus on the fact that Christmas means that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life?
Yes, that’s the reason for the season. That’s the reason for the baby in the manger, & the angels’ singing while shepherds watched their flocks by night, & the long journey of the wise men following the star from afar.
B. For most of us, the events surrounding the birth of Jesus are as familiar as any story we have ever heard. But there is one event that is not nearly as well known as all the rest. And that neglected part of the Christmas story is found in Luke 2:22-35. Please listen as I read it to you.
"When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph & Mary took Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as is written in the Law of the Lord, `Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord’), & to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: `a pair of doves or two young pigeons.’
"Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous & devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, & 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 & 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 & for glory to your people Israel.’
"The child’s father & mother marveled at what was said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them & said to Mary, His mother: `This child is destined to cause the falling & rising of many in Israel, & to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’"
C. Now let’s recapitulate. As the story opens, we see Mary & Joseph obeying the Law. The Law said that when a mother gave birth to a male child, that on the 8th day, the child was to be circumcised. On the 40th day after his birth, the parents were to take the child to the Temple & present him to God.
In doing that, they were to offer a sacrifice of consecration. In Mary & Joseph’s case it was 2 turtle doves or young pigeons, indicating that they were poor. If they had been rich they would have offered a lamb or a bullock. But because they were poor they offered the meager offering of just two birds.
D. But Mary & Joseph didn’t know that when they arrived at the temple there would be an old man waiting for them. His name is Simeon. His hair is gray. His skin is wrinkled. His back is bent.