Waiting To See (Luke 2:22-35)

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MOTIVATE

  • The church services and family gatherings are complete.
  • The gifts have been unwrapped and boxes/paper thrown out.
  • The leftovers from Xmas dinner are stale… except those chocolates from the tin can someone gave me but they’ll be gone shortly.
  • The tree needles are falling and needing cleaned up and taken down.
  • The decorations appear dated and need replaced.
  • Plans for a new month and year are readying.
  • And the rhythms of life continue, waiting for what’s next.
    • How many of you enjoyed waiting until Christmas (presents, dinner, family, etc.)?
    • How many can’t wait to get back to work?
    • Me on Xmas Eve eve – waiting in ER with Danielle gallstone pain… now waiting for expected surgery.
    • For what are you waiting?
      • Reconciled relationship
      • Healing / Recovery
      • Next step… employment change, a decision to make,
      • Fulfillment… maybe can’t pinpoint what you’re waiting for, but you know you’re missing something.

 

Today’s message will explore how to worship the Lord while we wait.

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EXAMINE           Luke 2:22-35             Waiting To See

Painting by Ron DiCianni “Simeon’s Moment.”

“In this painting I tried to let Simeon’s face tell the story. Ecstasy. I have a feeling Simeon Ron-DiCianni-Simeons-Moment-Fullclutched that baby like no other. He knew that he held the ‘light’ of the world, which I symbolized by the star emanating from the Baby. Intertwined through them both, I put a map of the world with its obvious symbolism that Christ came to impact the whole world, and not just the Jews, as most of the people would have concluded. Those lands, like North and South America, as well as others, were not even known to Simeon’s world, but God knew all along that you and I would need a Saviour. Simeon’s tear was put in to reflect deep joy. But the more I contemplated it, the more I realized it could symbolize that Simeon also might have known that this Baby was born to be crucified. That was why He came.”[1]

 

Today’s passage shows Mary & Joseph bringing their child to the Jerusalem Temple. This would have been at least 33 days after the circumcision of their child on the 8th day (cf. Leviticus 12:1-8). In presenting their child at the Jerusalem Temple they are offering sacrifices as a form of prayer and dedication of their child.

 

  • Note: Mary was ceremonially unclean – again, respect her but don’t revere her; she needed a Savior like us all.
  • Note: “He was named Jesus.” Joseph and Mary followed through with the angel’s command. Can you imagine Joseph and Mary retelling this story over and over?
  • Parents, it’s never too early or late to dedicate your children to the Lord. Pray for them, teach and discipline them in the ways of God. When dedicating your child, parents should be aligned in faith – as they should be aligned prior in marriage. A child dedication is 1) Confessing need for God’s wisdom and strength to parent, 2) Communicating to others your intent to raise child in the ways and word of God.
    • Note: In example, Jesus is baptized as an adult not as an infant.

 

Luke notes the parents do not offer the required lamb sacrifice but the exception to the poor of doves and pigeons. Obviously, Mary & Joseph had not received the gifts (gold, frankincense, myrrh) of the Magi yet. So, they gave what they could.

  • This is a reminder that God is not concerned with the size of the gift but the heart of the giver. God is honored by worship that is sincere in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This event was like any other, with likely other families dedicating their child. However, the uniqueness of this event was a man waiting to see the Christ child.

 

The man waiting is Simeon. His name comes from Hebrew “shema,” which means to listen & obey; or “Yahweh has heard” (Gen 29:33). Luke tells us a little more

  • Simeon was righteous and devout.
  • Simeon looked forward to Israel’s consolation.
  • Simeon was filled with and guided by the Holy Spirit.

 

  • These characteristics should be for Christians.
    • Credibility: People know you have integrity in word & deed. Too often Christianity gains a bad reputation from the pains of one lacking integrity.2 actions: 1) Admit wrongs. 2) Affirm others.
    • Hopeful: Pessimism and complaining is not attractive. Simeon could have looked backward to Israel’s failures, but instead he looked forward to Israel’s redemption. The consolation of Israel was not in its goodness but in the grace of God through the Messiah. Simeon was a man of faithful prayer and patience, trusting God’s plan to bring about his nation’s deliverance.2 actions: 1) Pray vs Post problems. 2) Assume the best of others…
      • Faith: God told Simeon he would not die before seeing the Messiah. The Spirit guided Simeon into the temple during this day. Simeon’s faith relationship was intimate enough to hear God and persevere over a long period, and to obey God in an instant. Further, Simeon’s faith displayed profound praise to the Lord, yielding the end of his life since he had seen the entrance of the Messiah; it’s likely Simeon was advanced in age with little years left, but regardless this likely reflects Simeon’s greater faith in a future resurrection of the dead. Christ’s arrival meant Simeon’s departure… what completed legacy item are you working toward? Is Jesus enough?2 actions: 1) Say yes to God / and to church requests, but figure how – prayer is participating as much as serving. 2) Ask God each day for a divine encounter.

Personally, I’m convicted by Simeon. There are many times when I am impatient and would likely rush God’s timing or worse, attempt to solve circumstances with human solutions. In contrast, Simeon was a man of prayer, patience and persistence in following the Holy Spirit’s leadership in his life. One of my prayers for the new year is to become more like Simeon in listening for the voice of God – in Scripture, through saints, and in circumstances.

Yet, the essential point of this passage is not about Simeon as it is the Savior. What child is this in the encounter with Simeon?

  • The child is Jesus / Yahweh saves (Luke 2:21).
    There are many others who have had the name Joshua or Je-sus, but there is only one Savior. Salvation is found in no one else beyond Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). It is at the name of Jesus that trees clap their branches and mountains will bow in worship to their Creator, wind and waves will obey His word, demons will be defeated, evil will end, and disease and death will become extinct. There is power in the name of Jesus!
  • The child is the human son to poor parents (Luke 2:22-24).
    He will identify and empathize with us in every way (cf. Php 2:4-7; Heb 4:14-16). Jesus takes on flesh and will endure the problems and pains of this world, just like us. He understands sorrow and grief over the death of a parent and loved ones, the hurts of friends, the heartache of rejection of enemies and supposed friends, and the agony of unjust mistreatment and murder. The incarnation reminds us God cares for every person and every problem in our life.
  • The child fulfills OT prophecies (Luke 2:25-26).
    He is the one promised from ages past, all throughout the Scriptures with every story whispering His name. He’s the second Adam, without sin. He’s the greater Moses to lead God’s people into the promised land. He’s the greater king to rule with righteousness and will never leave the throne. He’s the great high priest who offers the perfect and final sacrifice for sin with His own body. Jesus is the fulfillment of all the OT heroes and prophecies. The birth of Jesus reminds us we can bank on God to keep promises.
  • The child is a light for Gentiles (Luke 2:31).
    Jesus is the Jewish Messiah to rescue captive Israel and redeem contrary Gentiles. He would save all peoples from every nation, tribe, and tongue (Rev 5:9-10). Gentiles are no longer outsiders but are brought near by the blood of Jesus, and His grace reconciles human divisions (Eph 2:12-13). Jesus as Savior for all people shows us there is no room for racism, not even a corner in the closet.
  • The child will cause severe separation among believers and unbelievers (Luke 2:34-35).
    Simeon prophesied the destiny of Jesus to be “the fall and rise of many…a sign that is opposed” In other words, one’s reception or refutation of Jesus will cause their eternal separation. The wheat will be separated from the chaff (Mat 13:24-30); the sheep from the goats (Mat 25:32); the faithful servant from the unfaithful (Mat 24-25). The reality of prophesied rejection of the Christ reminds us we have one audience to please and not to fear man greater than God.

 

  • The child was born to die (Luke 2:35).
    The life of Jesus would be like a sword, piercing the soul of mother and many others. Mary’s heart was pierced when she saw her son suffering and die on a cross. Mary had unimaginable sorrow and the disciples had undeniable disappointment. Yet, their mourning would turn into marvel at the resurrection of Jesus. The cross of Jesus reminds us our faith path is along the road of suffering with great hope of redemption. Every earthly disappointment has an eventual expiration date.

 

Lord, give us eyes like Simeon to see the height of Jesus’s holiness, the depth of Jesus’s death, and the width of God’s compassionate invitation to all who will receive His Son.

APPLY/THINK

Imagine yourself in this passage:

  • Mary & Joseph
    • Dedicating their precious treasure to the Lord.

> What hinders and holds you from coming to God?

> What are you withholding from dedicating to the Lord?

  • Simeon waiting…
    • Waiting with passive anxiety or actively with guidance of the Spirit?> What are you putting on hold to wait but God is calling your waiting to be active in worship?

> What are you using as an excuse to now worship while you wait? Simeon (and Anna in context passage) could have used their age as excuse, but instead they waited with prayer, perseverance, etc.

> While you wait, will you miss God’s surprises? Simeon had to be prompted to enter the temple complex. Likely, he didn’t expect the Messiah born to peasant parents. But, God’s solutions to our life seldom comes without a surprising means of redemption. In fact, many times we are praying for answers but what we need is God himself.

 

2019

  • Commitments must be calendared and resourced with the right tools.
  • Goals are good but need God’s grace for when we fail; start fresh the next moment/day.

 

Christmas reminds us that life with Jesus is only the beginning of all the joys to come…

 

 

[1] Ron DiCianni, Simeon’s Moment print description found: https://www.christcenteredmall.com/stores/art/dicianni/simeons-moment.htm

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