Simeon’s Prophecy over the Baby Jesus #1

Title: Simeon’s Prophecy over the Baby Jesus

Text: Luke 2:21-35

Date: December 30th, 2007

We are now in the days following Christmas and I hope you all had a very merry Christmas this year. After Christmas we usually start taking down Christmas decorations, but on the first Christmas Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus did something very different in the days after Christmas: Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day, and then they all went up to Jerusalem to the famous temple in order to offer sacrifice to God for the birth of Jesus. Now you have to get a picture for what really happened on that first Christmas night in order to understand the order of events and how it is that Jesus, Mary and Joseph are in Jerusalem and not heading out to Egypt already. When we read that they visited Jerusalem you might be thinking, “Hey, wait a minute. I thought they hurried off to Egypt during the night because Herod’s soldiers were coming to kill all the newborns.” Yes, that’s true, but it didn’t happen that first Christmas night, as is often depicted in movies and how we often tell the story. Herod did send soldiers to kill the newborn of Bethlehem and Jesus, Mary and Joseph did flee to Egypt to escape, but it didn’t happen on the first Christmas night, it happened later. I recently watched again the 2006 movie The Nativity on DVD and it shows Jesus being born and then immediately Herod sending troops to kill the newborns in Bethlehem. It also shows Joseph having the dream telling him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt immediately; and so that’s what they do, just escaping the soldiers. It seems to imply this all happened on that first Christmas night, but we know from the Bible that it didn’t happen all at once because there had to be enough time for Jesus, Mary and Joseph to visit Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice in the temple for Jesus’ birth. It was a kind of baby dedication. All of this is described in Luke 2:21-35, along with their meeting of a strange man, a prophet of sorts, named Simeon, who gives a mysterious prayer and prophecy. That’s what I’d like to talk about this morning, Simeon’s prayer and prophecy, because they contain some very profound things that mean something for us today. He was speaking specifically to Mary and Joseph and Jesus, but what he prays also applies to us and our lives. It reveals things we need to know, believe, and apply to our lives. So let’s take this Sunday, the Sunday just after Christmas, to look at the mysterious prayer of Simeon in the temple at Jerusalem of Luke 2:29-32. We don’t know any more about this man other than what this short passage gives us. He was a godly man, sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and so he went into the temple that day sensing that the Lord had something for him to see and do pertaining to the coming Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he approached the Holy Family and began to speak. Let’s listen to what he has to say and what it teaches us. 

First, God keeps His promises. Luke 2:29, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised.” The literal original language of this verse says, “Sovereign Lord, according to your word.” Everything for the Jews then and everything now for Christians depends on God’s Word, depends on God’s promises. Remember what Jesus said in the wilderness? “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” Matthew 4:4. In another Bible passage, it says, “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.” Again, everything depends on the truthfulness of God’s Word. Now Simeon had no doubt read the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah and was waiting for his coming, like many in Israel were waiting. But this man was particularly focused on waiting for the Messiah’s coming during his lifetime; God had somehow communicated to him that the Messiah would come before he died. Now we don’t know what people thought of this man, we don’t know if he was considered a crack-pot or a quack or crazy – probably so by people in and around the temple. But he was right on with his thinking and spiritual sensitivity. He was strange, but he was right. He had read the prophets of the Bible, but he had also been given some direct prophecy from the Holy Spirit of God. Today, we are called by God to read, believe and follow the prophecy of the Bible as if our life depended on it – because it does. Our primary source of all truth and knowledge is the Bible. We can believe in all the promises of the Bible, and of the one’s we can’t understand, we must leave that to God to explain fully later. We also need to be open-minded about what the Spirit might want to do personally in our lives, like Simeon was open to the Spirit’s leading. Are you a careful student of the Bible? You need to be simply to know what to do in life, because without God’s Word we are literally lost. Are you open to the Holy Spirit? Test everything by the Bible, but after that, if it checks out, don’t reject the leading of the Spirit in your life either. Simeon had both going for him, so should we.

Second, God gives his people peace. Luke 2:29, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.” Or in other words, “I can now die, O Lord, because I’ve seen the fulfillment of your promises concerning the coming of the Messiah.” Now Simeon is talking about two kinds of promises, it seems. The first promise is the general promises found in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah, as we’ve looked at some of them before Christmas as they dealt with the birth of Jesus. Simeon must have known these, as did most Jews, as he was waiting for these prophecies and promises to be fulfilled. But there’s another thing Simeon is speaking about and that’s something that God promised him personally at some point. It could have been in prayer or it could have been as he was in the temple meditating and worshiping with the other Jews, but at some point he got the notion that he wouldn’t die before he actually saw the Messiah come. He got himself thinking that he could never, ever die in peace until he actually saw the Messiah. And God gave him that peace when he saw the baby Jesus. Many of us are praying for revival in the United States because there hasn’t been a big one in over 150 years. I’d like to see it come before I die; that’s my dream. If I can see it come to our country, then I can die in peace. Others feel the same way. But the point is that God gives his people peace. Remember Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We can all have peace with God through Jesus Christ because he’s already won our salvation. We don’t have to wait for this, that, or the other, because God has given us peace now through faith in Christ. Are you walking in the peace of the Lord, or are you conditioning your peace on what other people do or external circumstances? Don’t wait for things to be better in order to give you peace, walk in the peace of the Lord now. God gives his people peace now.

Third, God gives his people salvation. Luke 2:30, “For my eyes have seen your salvation.” Simeon saw the baby Jesus, the newborn Messiah, and he knew that salvation had come, he knew that it was as good as done, guaranteed, a done deal. Now how much did Simeon know about the salvation of Jesus Christ? Was Simeon thinking along the traditional lines of the Jews and thinking in terms of freedom from the Romans and Israel’s independence? No. Somehow this strange old prophet knew that salvation would be more than just a freeing of Israel from Rome and an independent Jewish state, because the end of his prayer talks about revelation to all people, not just the Jews. No. This weird, wacko man in the temple really knew something about the true nature of Jesus’ salvation; his prayer and prophecy prove it. Now remember the very name Jesus in the original Hebrew sounds like “Joshua” or “Jeshua” which means “the Lord is salvation,” or “The Lord saves.” So the very name of Jesus speaks of salvation. We just finished celebrating Christmas, but how many people remembered to celebrate the real reason for the season, the Savior Jesus? Jesus came into the world to save us from our sins, to save us from the penalty of sin which is judgment and condemnation in eternal fire. Thank God Jesus saves from that! Simeon got to see his very own salvation in the face of the baby Jesus. His only hope, like our only hope, is in the salvation Jesus brings. Are you saved today? Are you sure? Is there any question about it? If there is, make sure you get it straightened out, your salvation. Don’t take any chances about this. It’s only the most important thing in all the world. More important than good health or money or popularity or social status, or anything else. Make sure your soul is saved. Repent of sins and trust in Christ to save you.

Fourth, God has a plan for all people. Luke 2:31-32, “You have prepared in the sight of all people (salvation), a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Now the typical Jew thought of the Messiah’s coming as good news for the people of Israel, not the Gentiles. In fact, many or even most Jews felt that when the Messiah came the pagan nations were really going to get their judgment and destruction from God. The Jews were very centered around their own people and city of Jerusalem and traditions. But here in Simeon’s prayer – which was really a prophecy too – we see God’s vision and purpose for all people not just the Jews. Aren’t you glad God had a plan for all the people of the earth and not just the Jewish people? How many of you are not Jewish? Yes, most of us, or all of us here. Well, I’m glad that God thinks of more people than just the Jews or else I wouldn’t be included in his salvation. But thank God Jesus is the Savior for all people who will repent of their sins and believe in him for salvation. Ironically, as it has turned out, God’s people the Jews have more or less rejected their own Messiah Jesus, but the pagan Gentile people of the world – particularly Europeans and Americans North and South, and now Africans, have accepted the Jewish Messiah Jesus. We are more Jewish now than most Jews are Jewish! We are more children of Abraham than the real children of Abraham now! Isn’t that strange? I think of the Book of Revelations in one of the scenes where it describes, “All nations will come and worship.” All nations! God has a saving plan for all peoples of all nations if they would only repent and believe. But thank God this Christmas season that we have the salvation of the Lord in our lives. If you have salvation in Jesus Christ thank God for it every day. If you don’t have salvation yet, pray, humble yourself, confess and renounce all your sins and rebellion against God. Then, trust whole-heartedly in Christ to forgive and save you. It’s for all people – all who will believe.

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