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Text: Luke 2:25-35
This Sunday begins the season of Advent. Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation for the arrival of Jesus at Christmas. Two traditions that have developed during Advent are writing wish lists and then waiting for those wishes. “What do you want for Christmas?” is often answered by writing a wishlist. But then follows the long wait for those hope for gifts. At Advent, we have an annual opportunity to want and wait. How do we do this? We need to learn how to want and to wait like Simeon. Simeon was a man waiting for the consolation of Israel and was led by the Spirit to Jesus Christ.
Waiting for the Consolation of Israel (2:25-28)
Luke introduces Simeon as a just and devout man, “waiting for the Consolation of Israel.” Consolation means comfort, sympathy, compassion. When Simeon is waiting for Israel’s consolation, we find that Simeon is waiting for a person––the Lord’s Christ. The Spirit has revealed to Simeon that he would not see death until he has seen the Lord’s Christ. Consolation is coming to Israel, because the Christ is coming to Israel. How is he waiting? He is waitingas a just and devout man. He is waitingwith the Holy Spirit upon him. That means that a believer can be filled with the Spirit and still not have all he wants.
When Simeon waits in the Spirit, the Spirit leads Simeon to the Christ. Verse 27-28, “So Simeon came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God” (vs. 27-28). This may be an odd question, but what right did Simeon have to go to Jesus? What are his credentials to go up to a mother, scoop up a baby, and bless God and the family? Simeon’s credentials are the Holy Spirit! Luke makes it very clear that the Spirit leads Simeon to Jesus.
This is not limited to Simeon but to all believers. Simeon is a picture, a forerunner of the church––all Christians who have the Spirit are lead to the Christ. So, if you have the Spirit, what are you waiting for? The Consolation is here because Jesus the Christ has come.
My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation (vs. 29-32)
Simeon gathers Jesus in his arms and blesses God, saying, “Lord, now You are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (vs. 29-32). Simeon sees Jesus and concludes this is the fulfillment of God’s promise. Jesus is Lord’s Christ. Jesus is God’s salvation.
Simeon says that he can now depart in peace. Having seen the Lord’s Messiah, Simeon can die a happy man, a satisfied man, a fulfilled man. We often use this phrase in jest, “I can die happy now…” The focus of this sentiment is not the desire to die, but the value of the desire fulfilled. Luke shows that Simeon’s desire to see his Savior was so valuable, so glorious that nothing else experienced is his whole life could match this sight.
Jesus is God’s salvation that he has prepared before the face of all peoples and for all people. What do all people need to be saved from? The answer is in Jesus’ name, “You shall come his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Mat. 1:21).
Blessings From a Piercing Sword (vs. 33-35)
Joseph and Mary rightfully marvel at what Simeon says about Jesus. And then Simeon blesses them with a specific word to Mary, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (vs. 34-35). These prophecies are fulfilled in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Remember that Simeon is saying all of this as a blessingto Mary and Joseph. But what he is saying does not seem like a blessing, a comfort, but a deep grief, a soul-piercing sorrow. So how was such a piercing to be a blessing to Mary—to see, as she was to live to see, her Son mocked, stripped naked, body flayed open and brutally crucified? Simeon is revealing how God will comfort his people, bless his people––through the cross. It is the crucifixion of the Christ that brings consolation for the world.
The Thoughts of Many Hearts Revealed (vs. 35)
Advent is a season that reveals the thoughts of many hearts. What did the advent of Jesus reveal in this story? A longing and ache for the consolation of Israel. The soul-piercing sorrow of a mother. The Advent season is not the absence of grief, fear, pain, dread. Rather it is the season of God entering into our grief, fear, pain, dread. That’s why our Advent preparation must not be all jolly and jingle bells. A pierced heart is present, a life-time of longing. Advent is a season of waiting for Christ’s Consolation. But wait like Simeon who was led by the Spirit to Jesus Christ.