Now that the special Christmas services are over for another year, the presents are opened, all that’s left of the Christmas dinner are left-overs; the tree will soon come down, the lights will soon be turned off, the family and friends have returned home to “get back to work,” NOW WHAT? Now it’s time for the New Year’s Eve party and another New Year with the image of the old man and the baby – right?
Isn’t it interesting that on this last weekend of 2014 (First Sunday after Christmas) our text DOES tell us the story of the “old man” Simeon and the “old woman,” Anna – and the baby – Jesus! This is another reminder that Christmas is not “over for another year” but rather the great blessings of Christmas continue as (with Simeon and Anna) we live in the confident Hope that Jesus brings!
Luke records for us: “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts (as) the parents brought in the Child Jesus…” (v.25-27b) three times Luke records for us that the Holy Spirit “was upon Simeon;” “revealed to Simeon;” “moved Simeon!” And likewise, “Anna, a prophetess, moved by the Holy Spirit, never left the temple, but worshiped night and day…” Notice that it was the working of the Holy Spirit that caused Simeon to be “watching and waiting” – to see “the Lord’s Christ” (long-promised Messiah).
And notice, 1) the way it was with Simeon, the same for you and me today – there was no big fanfare. God’s Word doesn’t tell us HOW it was revealed to Simeon “that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ,” nor how he was “moved by the Spirit” to go to the Temple that day. Still today, the Holy Spirit works through common means: a) the water and Word of Holy Baptism; b) the spoken, written and sung Word of God; c) the common bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper with the promises and Words of God..
Also, note 2) that Simeon was in the place where Jesus was present – “moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” (v.27) Jesus’ presence is with us in our devotional times; our prayer times; as well as our times of public worship and Bible Study. How easy it is to “skip” these important times; to leave the Bible and devotional book sitting unused on the table or bed-side stand; to choose not to come to public worship services. WHAT IF Simeon had decided NOT to come to the Temple that day? Oh, what blessings we miss when we spend no time in God’s Word or miss out on the public gathering of believers in worship!
And thirdly, 3) Simeon “took Jesus in his arms.” We TAKE Jesus who is “The Word become flesh” (John 1) – when we take His Word, the Bible and read, study, listen and learn from it; and when Jesus invites: “Take eat, this IS My Body… Take drink, this IS My blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
So many people try to live without this blessed gift of seeing / holding Jesus because their selfish nature has blinded them to this Blessed Hope. The Apostle Paul wrote: “I pray… that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18)
I’m certain that Simeon and Anna were “never the same again!” They had “seen and held” Jesus! Think of how Simeon and Anna MUST have shared this with everyone they met! God’s peace and presence in us moves us to be positive witnesses. For Jesus came for “all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles; and for glory to God’s people, Israel!” No one is left out!
May God, the Holy Spirit, so fill us; enlighten us; empower us – as He did to Simeon and Anna – that we not only receive God’s peace but that God’s peace go THROUGH us – to our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers – this week and always. Amen.