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Title: Simeon’s Song
Text: Luke 2.21-35
Introduction: Well, here we are just a day away! We’ve made our way through three of the Christmas songs. Zechariah’s Song, Mary’s Song, last week – the Angels’ song, and this morning we’ll look at Simeon’s Song.
We’re in Luke 2.21. We’ll also be in two other places this morning – and we’ll read a significant portion of those Scriptures when we get there – so, you’ll want to bookmark them. Leviticus 12 & Isaiah 52. Go ahead and mark that spot in your Bible. Leviticus 12 and Isaiah 52.
Let’s begin with the reading of the text (Luke 2.21-35). Rd Lk 2.21-35
I think it is interesting that Luke tells us so much about what this family is doing. There is a lot of action and there is a lot of explanation: circumcision on a specific day, naming the son at that time, a period of time passes for her purification. Then, as that time passes they all go to the Temple for some sort of presentation of themselves and the baby in the Temple, with it all culminating in a sacrifice. There are details surrounding it all.
Typically, for us as Americans, we already know the name of the baby when he or she is born. Why wait 8 days before giving the baby his name? Besides, from earlier in the story, they already knew his name was going to be Jesus! Come to think of it – it was the same with John. They knew his name early on but didn’t go to name him until the 8th day. And what is with the purification process? How long does it last and what is involved in all of that? What is the issue with circumcision? How does all of this fit in the story of Jesus and what is the purpose in it all?
Before we begin to answer some of the questions, I’d like to make a note of something I just said and ask you to think about it: did you notice I mentioned the naming of Jesus on the 8th day when he was going to be circumcised? And then, I said the same thing about John? When studying the Bible, I think these sorts of points or information should get our attention. We should be asking ourselves if there is something being repeated? Is it similar to what is in the other story? If it is, then are there other similarities? If there is, could there be a pattern to these stories? Finally, why is Luke writing in such a manner?
`St. Augustine said: The Old (Testament) is in the New (Testament) revealed. The New (Testament) is in the Old (Testament) concealed.
That is precisely what we see going on in our text today. In order to understand much of what is taking place in this New Testament passage, we need to look back and understand some of the Old Testament!
I’ve often commented on how it would be nice if we could become Jewish before we become Christians. Now, please understand that I am being hyperbolic. I do not really believe people should become Jewish before they become Christian! But, my point is that we really need to understand the Jewish mindset – culturally, sociologically, religiously, philosophically – to better understand what it means to be a Christian. A broader understanding of the Old Testament will illuminate the New Testament for us.
This morning in our NT passage we see the OT, “Jewish-ness” of this family. Our text picks up in 2.21; all of these rituals, practices, and actions played a huge part in the life of any Jewish family when a child was born. Check out these keywords quickly with me:
- Circumcision in v 21
- Purification in v 22
- The Law of Moses; v 22
- Presentation; v 22
- The Firstborn male; v 23
- The Law of the Lord, v 23; v 24
- Sacrifice; v 24;
- The Consolation of Israel, v 25
- The Custom of the Law, v 27
Transition: We’ll look at these a little closer in a moment, but for now, this is the application for us in all that we see with this little family: Faith should be observable.
Faith is lived out in a very public way: Luke is writing for many people who are not Jewish and don’t understand the Jewish mindset. I think even today there is much we don’t understand. It’s good for us to see this. We see someone and we recognize that they are Jewish: the hat, the beard, the hair that curls down long in front of the ears, the sash, the tassels. We see and we recognize, but do we know why each of these traits and characteristics serves a point? They all mean something!
In our text, as we begin reading, we will note that this family is Jewish.
1st, we see that this family is Jewish.
And (even greater than that) we see their obedience to that Jewish faith. What I mean is that it isn’t just that their racial identification is Hebrew. Their faith is something that is lived out, which is the way it should be. They are going where they should be going and doing what they should be doing when they should be going and doing it!
- Time frames are set in v 21 & 22; Lev. 12.1-2a; you might wonder why the Jews waited until the 8th Well, first of all, mom is considered unclean. This practice is so important for the Jews and we Gentiles miss out when we don’t get this. The teaching of what is clean and unclean demonstrates for the Jews the holiness of God, and, not to treat God in a way that is irreverent. Rd Lev 12.3; So, once mom has been considered ceremonially clean, there is a very important ceremony that she should be a part of for her baby boy – his circumcision. This process is so very important because it is an outward symbol of God’s Covenant with his people – the Jews. So, just in Luke 2.21, we see some very important Jewish traditions being played out, that we might not know if we’ve never studied the Jewish faith. Consider again Luke’s audience – to whom he is writing. Those Gentiles might not know very much about the Jewish faith.
- 2ndly we see the Law of Moses and its importance in their lives. Rd v 22; In going back to Lev 12, we see the requirements set out. Rd Lev. 12.4; Continuing 33 days from 7 days = 40 total days. In our text in Luke, we see that he was probably circumcised in Bethlehem – probably at the local synagogue. Mary wouldn’t be allowed in the Temple area. But now, after 40 days, the time of her purification would be complete. Their family would then travel the 6 miles or so to Jerusalem to the Temple to make their sacrifice for Jesus. But why? Well, there are a couple of reasons. Luke explains in v. 23f; rd v 23f;
exp.: 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, [so he’s telling us where this is, which by the way, isn’t a quote] “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”); Just so you know, the requirements for sacrifice are set out in the book of Exodus at the Passover. God said that every firstborn son belongs to him. If it was an animal, depending on the animal, then it was to be sacrificed to God. If this was a son – that is, human, then it was to be redeemed. And so Luke continues: 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Luke is actually referring back to the Leviticus passage: rd Lev. 12.6-8; So we see some important markers with this family – namely, that they were poor. But don’t miss the most important teaching moment from Luke: this identifies for us their obedience to the Law. They were Jewish – and they were practicing Jews – faithful to their God.
2nd, they name their son, Jesus, according to the τὸ ῥῆμά of God through Gabriel. So they’re faithful to their religion, but they also demonstrate their piety in their attention to the plan of God. They offer sacrifices and perform their ceremonial tasks according to the Word of God. But, they also stick to the plan as outlined by the angel – τὸ ῥῆμά of God. I think it is interesting that the Angel appears to both Mary and Joseph at different times and in two different places. And, in both instances, the Angel makes it clear that the baby’s name is to be, Jesus. You read chapter 2.1-7. The baby is born – but he isn’t named in v1-7! He isn’t named until they come 8 days later to observe the Law for their newborn son. And, in that ceremony, they demonstrate their trust that God has a plan for their little boy. That very public demonstration of their faith is that they give him the name, Jesus.
You probably remember there was one requirement set out by the angel. Back up in 1.31-32: 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
Joseph had two requirements set on him: Marry Mary and name your son, Jesus. Over in Matthew 1, beginning in v 18 it reads: 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
- Marry Mary and 2. Name this baby boy, Jesus.
Transition: So they are living out their faith in a very public way.
There is a 2nd application for us here: Faith should be deeply private and personal.
Faith lived out in a very private way:
Here, Luke does another… meanwhile, back at the ranch transition. This is a… meanwhile, back in Jerusalem transition. Rd v 25a; So, we meet another character and we get to know just a little bit about him: rd v 25b; Here’s what we know about Simeon.
- He was righteous and devout.
- He was waiting for the consolation of Israel.
What exactly does that mean? Well, if you were Jewish, you would know. But for us Gentiles, we need a little help. So, let me show you. Isaiah 52 & 53; So, Simeon has been waiting for this Messiah, this Arm of the Lord.
As we move forward through to V 26, it tells us of a supernatural experience in such a way that τὸ ῥῆμά of God was revealed to him. Rd v 26; Basically, that he would not taste death before he saw the Messiah. Did the Holy Spirit reveal this in a dream, like with Joseph? No tango idea. But this had to be pretty powerful. Consider it: centuries in the making and now someone is promised that he will see God’s Anointed, God’s Messiah in his lifetime.
Ill.: the only way I can even begin to equate it would be if one of you had a supernatural experience with the Holy Spirit and were told in no uncertain terms that you would not taste death before Jesus returned again. That would be so cool! But, I’m not sure that is something you could share with people. They would think you were nuts!
App.: Please allow me to share something of experience here… I want you to know that these times of God’s supernatural communication are a very real experience. I don’t want to downplay what has happened with Simeon and I sure don’t want you to think that God doesn’t work that way today. Let me offer this caveat with this application. We don’t see communication with God like this on a daily basis. So, neither should you! I’m not saying it isn’t possible. God can do as he pleases. But, most of us don’t even listen to God when he speaks us through His Word – logos or rhema. And in case you’re wondering, Yes, I’ve had supernatural experiences like this in my walk with God.
- I call these times Pearls from God. Don’t cast your Pearls before swine! If you ever have an experience like this, it isn’t precious to other people. If you cast your pearls before others, there is a high probability they’ll be trampled underfoot.
They are called pearls because they are precious and they are very rare. Consider Abraham. How often do we see God interacting in a supernatural way? Very few times. And often long periods between.
exp.: The Holy Spirit was at work in Simeon (26) – leading him, guiding him (27). Rd v 27a; Ok, so Simeon is living out his faith in a very private way. Rd 27b; Wow… these parents are being obedient to the Law – living out their faith in a very public way. They’re on their way to fulfill their obligation to the law… when BAM! – they collide!
Simeon knows right away that this is the Messiah – this little baby has come to save the World! So, he sweeps him up in his arms. I wonder if the parents are caught off guard?
Can I pause and give us an application here? God works in and through us when we’re being faithful, living out what we believe in both public and private ways. And a song is born in Simeon. Let us go through this line by line:
- Now is the first word of importance in this song. It takes the place of emphasis in the sentence structure. I think the English language looses that a little. The 2nd most important word in this sentence is the word You see, in the Greek, words appear in any order the speaker or writer wants. He puts them in the order he wants to emphasize. With Simeon, it is Now and in Peace.
That is what Christ brings! Now, when we give our lives to him, he brings peace. Undefinable, Unexplainable, incomprehensible peace. Sins washed away – Peace! A wasted life, to Peace! A messed up marriage, to Peace. A broken heart that’s been shattered – Peace.
Can anyone here tell me the Candle for this morning? The Peace Candle. That’s what Jesus brings: Peace.
- Lord that word is mostly translated Master in the bible. Like when you read in 1 Timothy .. behave this way with your slaves. “Slave” is the other word here that you see translated servant. Now, in peace, Master, let your slave depart… according to your word. According to your rhema!
Rd v. 30-31 – For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples… Just a glimpse of this baby and he knew that God’s long-awaited salvation for his people and for the world was here! Rd v 32: a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. That is the consolation of Israel and salvation for all people.
Rd v 33: And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. I’m sure! And all of God’s people said: Aaaahhhh!!
Conclusion: Wouldn’t it be nice if it ended right there? Oh, but it doesn’t. There is more.
The truth is that life is hard. We’re not getting through this life unscathed. Sin has had its impact on us. And we see that in these next few verses. Rd v 34-35.
Application: So, what do I want you to take home with you today?
- You’re a Christian – act like it. Live it out: in public and in private. Sure, sometimes it can feel like legalism. But if you’re a Christian, then live out that faith. Tithe. Attend worship. Get discipled. Read your Bible daily.
- The Christ-filled life doesn’t mean “without struggle”. Yes, there is peace – but that peace comes within the storm that rages. That’s a part of the witness and the living out your faith in a very public way.
- Christ came – and he fulfilled what had been promised. Christ is coming again. Are you watching and waiting in anticipation of that event?
- But maybe you aren’t a Christian. Maybe life is a struggle. If Christ returned today you’d be in big trouble. Let me offer you, Christ, today.