Sermon Titled “The Simeon Moment” (Luke 2:22-40) – Sunday 8th December, 2013
- Online Definition of Advent: “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.”
The bible verses in Luke 2:22-40 tell the story of a holy man named Simeon, who had expectantly been awaiting the time of Israel’s “consolation,” a time when God would bring an end to the suffering of His people. Up until the time of Christ’s birth, Israel had suffered both political and religious persecution from various gentile nations, but because of the prophecies they had heard, they believed that God would one day set them free.
As Christmas approaches, we can begin to rejoice as Simeon did, because Christmas tells the story of Jesus’ birth and brings us the same hope that it gave to him and to the Israelites. The observation of advent, which begins four weeks before Christmas, enables Christians to remember, or to “re-enact” what God’s people experienced centuries ago as they waited and longed for the coming of the Messiah.
Look at the words that Simeon proclaimed as Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus into the temple and placed him into Simeon’s arms:
- 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
Simeon acknowledged that the baby he held in his arms was indeed the Messiah, and he sang out loud and praised God!
But who is Simeon anyway, that Luke would make mention of him in his gospel writings? Simeon, according to Luke, was a devout and righteous old man who lived in Jerusalem (the hot spot at the time of Jesus’ birth). His name, which in Hebrew means “to hear,” or “to be heard,” is rather fitting, because it appears that his prayers for Israel to be set free once and for all, were heard by God and answered.
God promised that Simeon would live to see the Messiah, and it was with great expectation that Simeon (and the Israelites) waited. According to the prophecies previously foretold, the Jewish people believed that the Messiah was coming from the line of David. When baby Jesus was placed in Simeon’s arms, God’s spirit moved him to raise the child up in the air and give glory to God.
Simeon rejoiced because God had revealed to Him who the Messiah was, and the ultimate purpose of the Messiah’s arrival. Simeon understood something that the Israelites did not; he understood that the Messiah had not been sent to deliver the Jews from their enemies and place them above all other peoples, but that He had been sent to save all people, for all eternity, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or gender.
Having seen the Messiah, Simeon was ready to depart the world. He had spent his life looking and waiting, and when the Messiah finally arrived he was able to recognize him because he was in tune with God’s spirit (he was spiritually aware). We also are called to be spiritually aware, and to be looking and waiting, but unlike Simeon we are looking and waiting for Christ’s second coming.
Allowing for the possibility that Christ could come back at any given time, and possibly even within our lifetime, should we not try to live with an eternal versus temporal focus? Not just by living less selfishly, but by also sharing with others the hope of salvation? Christmas is coming, and with it comes the story of Christ’s birth and why God sent Him into the world. It’s a story that’s amazing, it’s a story that’s true, and it’s a story that needs to be told.
Simeon had his moment more than two thousand years ago, when he told anyone who was willing to listen that Jesus was the light and the way to eternal salvation. Now is as good a time as any for you to have your moment!
- Matthew 28:19-20. Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.