This week’s sermon is from Luke 2 and focuses on Simeon’s prophecy over Jesus. In studying Luke, chapters 1-2 there is a theme of peace that emerges in the songs and prophecies. There’s the familiar song of the angels in chapter 2, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Then there’s the less familiar prophecy by Zechariah concerning Jesus in chapter 1.
“76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Next, we’re introduced to Simeon, who, upon seeing Jesus proclaims, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace.“
Just stop and think about it. He sees Jesus, lifts the baby up in his arms and prays, “Now I can die.“
30 minutes on Sunday morning is not enough time to unpack the wealth and treasure of a passage like this, not to mention the prophecies that are the foundation of Simeon’s expectations. So, you’re reading a few introductory ramblings on the blog as a consequence.
Here are some things that struck me as important as I read this text.
1. Simeon finds joy and peace in “seeing” God’s salvation accomplished in his own life.
He says in v. 29, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation.”
In Jesus he sees the fulfillment of all his own longing. In Jesus he sees the pardoning of his iniquity and the consolation of Israel. The consolation or comfort of Israel had been long spoken of and long anticipated. By the time Simeon comes into the picture many Israelites had forgotten that this “consolation” or “comfort” was less about deliverance form foreign oppression and more about the forgiveness of sins.
But, Isaiah 40 is clear and Simeon seems to know it…
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.”
Isaiah 57 also has this theme of consolation and comfort for suffering Israel.
15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
18 “I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
19 creating the fruit of the lips.
Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the Lord,
“and I will heal him.”
This is why Simeon can say, “Now I can die in peace.” Peace between men and God is going to be fulfilled by God’s Messiah, Jesus Christ and Simeon looks with faith upon that day. Simeon is not looking for peace in a political personality or a change in national status. Simeon is not looking for peace at the bottom of a bottle or in the accumulation of wealth. Simeon is looking for God’s salvation and he sees it in Jesus Christ and so he proclaims, “Now you are letting your servant depart in peace.“
Wow. How did Simeon find peace? He looked at Jesus. That’s it. He looked at Jesus. This is more practical than we might realize at first. How do we find peace? Quit looking at yourself and lift your eyes to God’s salvation. What has God done? What has God accomplished? What is God like? What does God say?
This makes me think of a verse Pastor Paul reminded me of the other day, 2 Corinthians 3:18, 18 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Paul and Simeon are transformed people because they behold the glory of the Lord in Jesus Christ, not just because they saw him, but because they saw him in the Scriptures by the leading of the Holy Spirit.
2. The Only Reason Simeon “Sees” Jesus is because of the Holy Spirit.
v. 25, “…and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”
v. 26, “And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit…”
v. 27, “And he came in the Spirit into the temple…”
You think Luke is trying to tell us something? Yeah. Lots of people “saw” Jesus that day but Simeon (and later, Anna) is the only one who sees Jesus as the Christ, the Savior of the world, the consolation of Israel and the source of peace.
There’s so much more to this passage than what’s on the surface. From it we could talk about:
1. All the worthless ways we look for peace that fail
2. The irony of the fact that Simeon prophecies that Jesus will bring peace AND opposition (v. 34)
3. The joy that Simeon has at seeing the consolation of the Gentiles just as much as the Jews (v. 31, 32)
4. How the church should manage conflict by looking to Jesus and reflecting his character
And there’s probably more…we’ll see how many I can manage to talk about on Sunday.
Be praying that God gives me wisdom as I prepare.
To God Alone be the Glory!