Summary: It’s easy to miss him, but we need to see Jesus SO: I want people to envision what it would have been like to see Jesus, and understand that while Jesus’ is not a plastic polyanna, he is hope and glory.
Title: What They Saw That Day
Text: Luke 2:25 – 35
FCF: It’s easy to miss him, but we need to see Jesus
SO: I want people to envision what it would have been like to see Jesus, and understand that while Jesus’ is not a plastic polyanna, he is hope and glory.
I. What Everybody Else Saw (A Temple)
II. What Mary & Joseph Saw (A Baby)
III. What Simeon Saw (A Man of Sorrows)
a. He saw that Jesus brought Death – both for himself and for others
b. He saw that Jesus was his Salvation – his deliverance
c. He saw that Jesus was ultimately, his Glory.
I want to take you on a journey of sight of today . The irony of this is that I just found out that the name “Simeon” actually means “hearing,” and yet, as I read this portion of Scripture, I realize that what was so important to Simeon was what he saw.
What I want you to see today is not a manager in a stable at an overcrowded inn but rather the Temple. We just heard that a few days after Christmas, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the Temple, and what they saw that day is important to understanding what it means to grow up in Christ. So often, we focus on that little baby surrounded by sheep and donkeys that we forget why the story is so central to our Spirit.
Now, in order to see the Temple, it may help you to understand a bit of the geography around you as you envision this edifice. If you’re standing on the Mount of Olives, you’re on a ridge from which you can look down to the Jordan Valley on one side, and two little hills on the other. You’ve probably heard of these mountains before. One is Mount Zion and the other is Mount Moriah. The Mount of Olives is maybe about as tall as Bull Run Mountain up the ways, and Mount Zion & Mount Moriah aren’t quite as tall as that. But, there’s a deep valley between you and Zion that makes the Mountains look like mountains. The city of Jerusalem is pretty much all on Zion, and the Temple sits on Moriah.
Now, here’s the cool part. Herod rebuilt the Temple Mount around Moriah. He wanted to build a really impressive Temple so as to illustrate his power and beneficence to his people. Unfortunately, he was constrained as to the actual dimensions of the Temple, since they had been written down long before him. So, he decided to literally raise up a mountain around Moriah with which he could frame the Temple. He started with a base that was 35 acres of perfectly cut stone. Each of these stones was over 50 tons. You can still see that base today when you go to the Western Wall, and even without a Temple, its still impressive.
Smack dab in the center of that huge base was the Temple itself. Two gold pillars in front, a striking marble cube - it rose another 50 feet into the air . Now, imagine yourself walking up the great staircase as you go up into the Temple. Once you got to the top of this grand edifice, look around. Real quick – if you’re just seeing white stone, you need to remember– there was color, and lots of it. Even if this is Jerusalem, remember, you’re in a Roman city, and they love color. You’ll be seeing some gaudy blue and bright red – it’ll catch your eye. On the side of the staircase, you might have caught a glimpse of some of the graffiti. The old cities were no different than today.
At the top, you may have noticed a poor couple, going to the moneychangers to exchange their money for Temple coins, with which they are then going to buy two pigeons. They’re nothing spectacular – after all this impressive Temple is designed to distract you. Problem is, even though this building was erected as a sign of God’s special protection on Israel, you just missed the very fulfillment of that promise.
That was Mary, Joseph, and a squawking little baby, wearing some old rags as a diaper. In other words, that was Jesus.
Now, don’t be worried – a lot of people didn’t see anything special that day. If you don’t believe me, just read ahead and see what the prophetess Anna was doing. She was telling the very same people in the Temple what they had just missed. That happens. That’s almost was the Temple was designed to do – to hide the fact that God himself is in our very midst.
You know, Christmas has a tendency to still do that to us today. I’ll admit, I occasionally watch the “Simpsons.” And this year, I watched their Christmas special. To make a long story short, after skewering just about every Christmas tradition from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” to a 1980s ‘California Raisin’ singing a marketing version of O Holy Night’; Homer and Ned Flanders, after recreating “How the Grinch stole Christmas,” wind up in the Town Square having an epiphany about the meaning of Christmas. When they do, Ned pulls out a Bible and starts, just like Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to read the real Christmas story. He gets about a sentence in when Mayor Quimby stops him and says “Hey wait you can’t do that on public property!” and the Mayor points to a sign that says “Springfield City Hall, God-free since 1963.” So Homer chimes in with a summary that I bet most people would say. He says “Okay, so let’s just say that a million years ago some really nice guy did something really nice for us. The end.” And then, and I still don’t know if this is just irony upon irony, or The Simpsons just not getting it, they start singing “Hark The Herald Angels Sing.”