Summary: From the story of Simeon and Anna in Luke 2:21 – 40 we learn: never to lose faith in the promises of God; God only reveals himself to hearts that are open to receive him; we are not ready to die until we have met Christ as Savior and Lord..
Will You See Christ This Christmas?
I want to turn our attention to a part of the biblical Christmas story which is seldom referred to but has a real message for us today. Luke 2:21-40 This beautiful part of the Christmas story centers around two people named Simeon and Anna. In verses 25-32 we are told that Simeon was a good man, righteous, devout and filled with the Holy Spirit. It had been revealed to him by the Spirit of God that he would not face death until he had seen the promised Messiah.
Verse 27 tells us that Simeon, led by the Spirit of God, had come to the temple court on the very day that Mary and Joseph had brought the baby Jesus to the Temple, to dedicate him to God. This was in keeping with the law of Moses which taught that every firstborn male child was to be consecrated to the Lord. Next we discover that by special revelation, Simeon knew that this child was the promised Messiah, the son of God. And taking the baby Jesus in his arms, he blessed him saying, “ Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles and for the glory of your people Israel.”
And then in verses 36 and following we are told of an 84-year-old lady, by the name of Anna, a widow and a prophetess. She never left the Temple but worshipped night and day with fasting and prayer. She also recognized the baby Jesus as the promised messiah. In verse 38 she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all those who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel.
For the next few minutes I want to share with you three great truths which I believe we can learn from this beautiful story.
First, it teaches us that no matter how dark the outlook, we should never cease to hope and have faith in the promises of God's word. We have every reason to believe that Simeon and Anna were quite elderly. We are told that she was 84 and Simeon was well advanced in years.
And by the way, did you know that there are 4 stages in life. The first stage, “You believe in Santa Claus. The second stage, you don't believe in Santa Claus. The third stage, you are Santa Claus at least do your own children. And the final stage, you look like Santa Claus.”
But, back to our story, Anna and Simeon lived at a time when the moral and spiritual life in Israel was at a very low ebb. The people of Palestine were burdened with a heavy toll of civic and religious taxes. Life had become difficult, full of fear and anxiety. And yet they were part of a faithful, believing remnant and they refused to give up hope. We know from the records that they had come to the temple many times before, possibly for years. Other worshippers may have considered them unrealistic dreamers; perhaps even the object of ridicule and mockery. But in spite of everything – discouragement, disappointment even ridicule they refused to give up hope.
What a lesson this is for us today, because I am sure we can see some similarities between our day and the world when Christ was born. Carol and I usually watch the 10 o'clock news on channel 11. But I must confess it does not make a good bedtime story. Often it causes a nightmare more than a sweet dream. It seems that no country on earth is immune to the awful tragedies of our day.
As we enter 2013 we do not know what lies ahead. News from around the world sounds very alarming at times. Efforts toward peace in the Middle East are very frustrating. Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria are all in the midst of turmoil. Iran and North Korea are advancing toward nuclear armament. Several European countries are on the verge of bankruptcy. Our hearts have been broken over the shooting of 20 children and six teachers in Connecticut. Our national debt is in the trillions and growing every day. We are told that this could lead to another recession. Here at home unemployment is on the increase. Added to this we face climate change, natural disasters and the breakdown of marriage and family relationships. In fact, I believe that we are hearing so much bad news that we are losing our sensitivity to its seriousness.
All of these factors are coming together and pointing in the same direction, telling us that something tremendous, something terrifying and yet wonderful is going to happen. It is true that we do not know the day or the hour when Christ will come again but we are living in days of need and opportunity such as the world has seldom known. As followers of Christ are called upon to be faithful, steadfast, always abounding in the work of the Lord. At that first Christmas, 2000 years ago a light came into our troubled world and all the darkness of sin and sadness have never been able to put it out. And this message of faith, hope and love is very much needed in our world today.