Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
The Angel to Simeon - Christmas Day - December 25, 2012 - Text: Luke 2:22-35 (v. 26)
The angels became very prominent in the work of the Lord at the time of the birth of Jesus. We began this Advent season talking about the angel that God sent to announce to Zachariah the birth of the one who would prepare the way for Jesus, John the Baptist. We went on to talk about the angel sent from the Lord who announce to Mary that she had found favor with God and would be the mother of God. We talked about the angel who was sent in a dream to reassure Joseph that it was okay to take Mary as his wife because what was conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit. Last night we moved on to talk about the angel and the angels who were sent to announce the good news of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. This morning we move on to talk about the angel who was sent to announce to Simeon the birth of the Savior for whom he and the believing Israelites had been waiting, the birth of the Savior of the world, but right off let me confess, I have stretched our theme a bit this morning. As we hear in our text, it was actually God Himself, God the Holy Spirit in this instance that made the announcement to Simeon, not an angel.
Again, as we have done through this Advent season, before we get to the actual announcement, let us take a moment to look at the message receiver. Our message receiver this morning is the priest, Simeon. Simeon was from the tribe of Levi and so was serving the Lord in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus for the purification rite of the firstborn male child. About Simeon we are told that he was a righteous and devout man. He served faithfully in the Lord’s service in His temple.
About Simeon we are also told that he was waiting for the consolation of Israel, in other words he was waiting for the promised Messiah, the Savior. Simeon was getting older in years, but God had told him that he would not die before seeing the Savior of the world. And it was for this reason, that God might fulfill His promise to Simeon, that he was on duty in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus for the purification rite. Notice that this was not a coincidence, but as all seeming coincidences are, this was accomplished by the actions of God.
The events which surround the announcement of Jesus’ birth is that Mary and Joseph had come to Jerusalem to perform the purification rite of Mary after she had giving birth to a son, and a the firstborn. The actual rite required that a lamb was to be sacrificed, but if the couple could not afford a lamb, the rite allowed for two turtle doves or pigeons might be sacrificed.
So, Mary and Joseph entered the temple with their sacrifice of two turtle doves and they are met by the priest on duty, Simeon. Simeon was in the temple as we are told because he was moved by the Holy Spirit to be in the temple, in the right place at the right time, to meet with Mary and Joseph and to see the baby Jesus, the long awaited Savior of the world. Here again, rather than send His angel, the Lord Himself announces this message to Simeon.
As Simeon approaches the couple and the Savior of the world, he is moved by God the Holy Spirit to speak words of joy and words of prophecy. Simeon began by proclaiming that now he was ready to die because he had seen the Messiah. The words he speaks are the words we often sing following our participation in the Lord’s Supper. When we come to the Lord’s Table, we taste and see that the Lord is good. We are given His body and blood to eat and drink, thus participating in His life, death and resurrection and so we too are ready to die, we too are ready to depart in peace from this world, this valley of the shadow of death, in order to be taken to be with the Lord in heaven for eternity.
And Simeon also proclaims words of prophecy concerning this Jesus, this Savior of the world, that is that Jesus is the Savior for all nations, Gentiles included. Unfortunately, Simeon also proclaims a bit of not so good news, announcing to Mary and Joseph that this Jesus will cause the rise and fall of many in Israel, in other words there will be those who rise to eternal life by faith in Jesus as the Messiah and those who fall or are eternally condemned because of a lack of faith in Jesus as the Messiah. And just as Jesus will be pierced on the cross, so will Mary’s heart be pierced.
The response of Mary and Joseph to the revelation of Simeon is that they marveled at these events. As for Mary, as Simeon spoke of Mary’s own soul being pierced, certainly this might be compared to our hearing how she kept pondering these things and keeping them in her heart. Certainly Mary’s life consisted of the great events of a normal mother and child as well as those greater and marvelous events including Jesus’ opposition, His suffering, death, resurrection and ascension.
This morning we celebrate the fact that Jesus was born for the express purpose of being the Savior of the World. We celebrate Simeon and the Lord’s promise and fulfillment to him to be able to see the promised Messiah and we are reminded that every time we come to the Lord’s Table, we taste and see that the Lord is good, we taste and see and participate in Jesus’ life, suffering, death and resurrection, so that His life, His perfect life becomes our perfect life; His death, His perfect death becomes our death; His resurrection becomes our resurrection; and His life, His rising to eternal life is our eternal life.
What does this mean? Again we notice this morning, it was not Simeon who approached God. Notice also, it was not because he was blameless that God reassured him. If this statement were true, then we would naturally point to ourselves and we would be the reason that God does what He does. Because we know that we are not the prime movers, but that God is the Prime Mover, we know that it was God who chose Mary to be the mother of God and Joseph to be the adopted father of Jesus. It was God who chose to promise Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Savior of the world. And it was God who kept His promise to Simeon so that he was in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple. As always, it always begins with God.
Throughout the Old Testament God told His people, you and me included, what was going to happen. God continually reiterated His promises, to Abraham, to Isaac, Jacob, Moses, King David and the like. Our church year begins with Advent and the account of the beginning of God’s fulfillment of these promises. Now we can be certain, from the promises and from the fulfillment that Jesus us who He says He is. Jesus is God in flesh. Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior of the world, the one promised in the Garden of Eden. Jesus is God and God with power. Indeed, we can believe what God tells us in His Word. God’s Word is His Word and is a Word with power, the power to do what He says. As we begin our celebration of Jesus’ birth, may we do so in all faith and confidence that this was ordained and accomplished according to God’s good and gracious will and so is efficacious for our salvation. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.