Simeon’s Prophecy over the Baby Jesus #2

Title: Simeon’s Prophecy over the Baby Jesus #2

Text: Luke 2:33-35

Date: January 6th, 2008

We are in our second week past Christmas, into a New Year 2008, but I’d like to finish up on the 2nd part of what I talked about last week, which was Simeon’s prayer and prophecy over the baby Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem. Last week if you remember I talked about Simeon’s prophetic prayer, this week I’d like to speak on Simeon’s final prophecy, found in Luke 2:33-35, “The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 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, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’” A very dramatic closing to Simeon’s utterances. I’d like to unpack what it all means, what it meant for those at the time of Jesus and what it still means to us today. What we see here is a clear case of prophecy or the gift of prophecy in operation. Some people today think that the gift of prophecy is no longer operational for our time. They say that it’s been done away with today. They say it was only for use during the Bible times, but that today it’s no longer to be expected. Well, there is nothing in the Bible that says this kind of prophetic utterance will cease – that is, until the return of the Lord Jesus, as 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “when the perfect shall come the imperfect shall be done away with.” So we have this old man, Simeon, approaching the holy family and giving a prophetic prayer and utterance. Who told Simeon to say these things? God. And who told Mary and Joseph to listen to the old man Simeon? God also. You see, we’ve all had people come up to us on the streets and start talking to us about something. We’ve all seen people talking to themselves on the street corner. We’ve seen people stop talking to themselves and start talking to us about something, usually nonsense. There’s a guy out here in Jamestown who wears black vest and a cowboy hat who talks to himself and sometimes to the people who pass by him. He just stands on the street corner talking real loud about different things, to himself, to others, to anyone who will listen. We all feel bad for people like that because we know that there’s something wrong with their minds. They may be schizophrenic, they may have a split-personality, they may hear voices, they may be having delusions. We don’t take what they are saying serious because we doubt whether they are totally sane. But here is an old man Simeon in the public Temple of Jerusalem who approaches Mary and Joseph and Jesus – and instead of turning away or continuing on, they listen because they sense that what he’s saying is prophetic, not crazy. Well, as we now know, Simeon wasn’t crazy, what he said was prophetic, and God was speaking through that old man some very important things.

First, the Christ-child would bring dramatic change. Luke 2:34, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel.” The phrase “falling and rising” indicates that the life of Jesus would produce great change starting in Israel and then spreading all over the world. There is no doubt that Simeon is talking about the baby Jesus because the prophecy says, “This child is destined to cause. . . .” When Jesus entered the world a chain reaction started that carried on into his young life, into his young adult life and finally and especially into the last three years of his adult life which ended with his death, burial and resurrection. There were probably many people passing in and out of the Temple in Jerusalem that day, but only Simeon knew that the little baby being brought for dedication would one day trigger great change in Israel and the whole world. Sometimes I like to watch science fiction movies, and one of the themes that I’ve seen repeat itself is time travel. There are lots of different movies about people from the future going back in time to the past, and vice verse. And a number of science fiction movies I’ve seen show people from the future trying to go back in time to the past in order to stop someone or something from happening in order to save the world from destruction. For example, imagine a person from the present going back into the past in order to trying to find the baby Hitler in order to stop Hitler before he grows up and becomes a world leader and brings so much death and destruction on the world. Of course, there is no way to go back into time and prevent the Hitlers of the world from being born or from growing up, but it’s the stuff of science fiction movies to describe it. But imagine Simeon seeing into the future all the blessings the baby Jesus would bring about, all the good changes that would result because of Christ’s birth. Simeon was the only one, outside of Mary and Joseph, and maybe the shepherds and wise men, who saw it. Only they could see Jesus’ potential. We need to see the way God sees things instead of always seeing things the way the world sees things. What’s the Bible say, “Don’t despise the day of small beginnings.” Let’s keep that in mind as we look at people, places, and things today.

Second, the Christ-child would be strongly opposed. Luke 2:34, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be spoken against.” Everything will not go smoothly for Jesus the Messiah, nor for his followers. Now remember, Simeon’s prophecy is taking place before Herod sends his soldiers to kill the child, so not long after this prophecy, Mary and Joseph will see some of the opposition come against the baby Jesus. Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, he’s the savior of the world, but he isn’t exactly welcomed with opened arms by the people. During his lifetime he was opposed by the Jewish leaders and by many people. Most of the Jews after he died and was raised to life, still rejected him as their Messiah because he didn’t lead them to victory over the Romans, which they were all convinced the real Messiah would do. So most Jews opposed the Jesus movement. The disciples and other followers of Jesus were opposed by both the Jews and the Romans, and it’s a wonder that Christianity was able to spread at all and grow. It must have been but by the grace and power of God that it not only survived but thrived in those early days. But Jesus and his followers encountered fierce opposition. And it will be that way today for true Christians. There is the false idea floating around today that if you become a Christians your life will always and of necessity get better. You will prosper, you’ll always be healthy, you will be blessed in every way, you’ll succeed in all you do, and life will unfold like a flower in a well-watered garden. But that just isn’t true. Here’s Simeon’s prophecy: he (Jesus) will be “a sign that will be spoken against.” Like Jesus, if you start believing, speaking and living by the Word of God, people will criticize you and oppose you. If you tell people that only Jesus saves, people will not like you. If you tell people that they need to be saved from their sins or they’ll die, be judged, and condemned to hell, they won’t like you. The local newspaper in Jamestown, the Post-Journal, won’t run any of my articles any more because they only accept non-offensive writings, one’s that won’t upset anybody or bother anybody. I face opposition, so will you, if you try to live the true Christian life. They opposed Jesus, they will oppose us his followers too. Just make sure you are facing opposition for Jesus and not for your own sins or fault. There is no blessing in that. “Blessed are those persecuted for my name,” Matthew 5:11.

Third, the Christ-child will change people’s hearts. Luke 2:34-35, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” “So that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” The life and ministry of Jesus did in fact expose the thoughts and intents of the heart of many a person, and still does. It’s called the convicting power of the Holy Spirit today. Jesus would simply show up and start teaching and preaching and his very presence caused people’s hearts to melt, causing them to become convicted of their sinfulness and confess and repent right there on the spot. Remember what happened to Peter the fisherman the first time he met Jesus. Jesus used his boat to preach from, then told Peter to launch out into the lake, put down his nets for a catch. What happened next? A miraculous catch of fish resulted, and when Peter saw this miracle coming from Jesus he replied, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man,” Luke 5:8. He was convicted for his sins. That’s what it means to say that Jesus will reveal the thoughts of a man’s heart. Jesus still does that today. In fact, if Jesus doesn’t do it, if Jesus doesn’t convict you of your sins, you can’t be saved because you won’t confess and repent without conviction of sin. I sure hope you’ve experienced and still experience conviction of sin in your life; it shows that the Lord is present and active in your life. It shows that your heart and mind are open to the Lord. Today, lots and lots of people want Jesus but they don’t want to feel bad in the process. They want Jesus but they don’t want to be convicted for their sins, they don’t want to feel guilty for their sins, they don’t want to feel shame for their sins, but that’s impossible. If you are sinning, if you are disobeying the Lord’s will, you should feel guilty, because you are guilty. Some people claim to be converted yet have never felt conviction of sin, never confessed their sins, never repented of their sins, and continue right on in their sins, all the while claiming to be born again, saved, whatever you call it. No. that’s not right. One of the reasons I confess and repent and renounce and turn away from my sins is that I hate to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit for sin. If you have sin in your life, you better deal with it, now, not later. Let Jesus replace your sinfulness with righteousness.

Finally, fourth, the Christ-child bring suffering too. Luke 2:24-25, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that they thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Now Simeon was speaking specifically here to Mary, the mother of Jesus, about all the suffering she would have to go through in witnessing the suffering and death of her son Jesus on the cross. She was completely helpless to do anything to help her son in his hours of agony. But it isn’t limited to the suffering of Mary. The prophecy also speaks to all the true followers of Jesus then and throughout history and even now. It just may be that you will be called to suffer for Christ in this life to some degree. A true believer will suffer in some ways for Jesus, if he or she really takes the Bible seriously. People who don’t believe will reject you sometimes; and that hurts. Family members will reject sometimes; and that really hurts. Again, I warn you, don’t act mean, hateful, unfair, rude, insensitive to other people and claim you are suffering for Jesus. No, you are suffering for your own sins, not anything connected with Jesus. Don’t use Jesus as an excuse for your own bad behavior. But if you are really seriously living your life in accord with the will of God as found in the Bible, especially the New Testament, you will face opposition and maybe even persecution. People will misunderstand you. People will call you names like, “Narrow-minded, fanatic,” If you try to teach them God’s Word about things they’ll really not like you because God’s Word doesn’t please the world. What does the Bible say, “Friendship with the world is enmity with God.” If you love Jesus with heart, mind and soul, the world won’t like you very much at times. You’ll be rejected, not invited to places, talked against. But that’s to be expected. We’ve got to keep on believing and behaving as God would have us, and pray for the people of the world that somebody they come to see and experience Jesus like we do. Until then, we’ve got to learn to love the lost and pray and maybe lead them to Jesus.

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