Faithlife Sermons

212: The Lights of Christmas; A Light for Everyone: Lk 2.22-40

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Intro

Lk 2
Lilly house - it was busy, but the life was gone.
Temple - the place where heaven and earth touch. The Temple is where you would go to be near God; to be in his presence. It was busy, but the life was gone. Ichabod
Going to see 4 people gather around the true Temple. 2 are old and 2 are young. These are people that represent what devotion to God looks like.
For time sake, we’ll won’t read the texts of both of the older saints here but I’ll touch on it as we go along.
This text is so theologically rich that it’s tough to pick out one thing and say; that’s it! I’ll lead us in a bit of a Bible study and just ask that you let God’s word speak to you this morning, let it challenge you. Let it comfort you. Let it make you uncomfortable.
Pray

Text

Lk2.22-24
Luke 2:22–24 NIV
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

A beautiful picture of devoted young people

There are several things going on here:
Jesus was circumcised and named three weeks earlier.
Purification (their?)
Dedication (poor)
The second wasn’t necessary. What you see here is a young couple that takes their faith and devotion to God seriously.
As NT Christians, we don’t talk much about sacrifices. Here we see the heart of dedication and devotion. There is much to say about preparing your own heart before going to worship. Here, a young couple shows us the way. Remember, we don’t know how old Joseph and Mary are, but girls were typically married about the middle of our High School.
Lk 2.
Luke 2:25–27 NIV
25 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 on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,

A beautiful picture of mature saints

Simeon and Anna
Simeon
Mary and Joseph are the young people who follow God with all their hearts.
Simeon is the wise elder who has walked with God for many years.
Side note. Great faith or experience with a great and faithful God?
Simeon is a wonderful example of an older man who’s life is centered around God.
He is Notice who is guiding this encounter. 3X the Holy Spirit. God is putting this whole scene together. Simeon has arranged his life to walk with God so he is sensitive to God’s voice and leading. He goes looking for Jesus as Mary and Joseph bring him into the Temple.
Anna
She was married for only 7 years when she became a widow (early twenties) Now she is 86 years, she worshipped and fasted and prayed. Again, she has arranged her life around God. Look who he tells!
She celebrates the culmination of God’s promises
Asher - one of the lost twelve tribes. Rather than grow bitter, she leans into God and worships and tells everyone about Jesus.
They seem to function as Watchers
Isaiah 52:8 NIV
8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.
Prophecy is fulfilled here.

Whereas the shepherds symbolized the average person on the street, Simeon represents the testimony of a wise elder who has walked with God.

Something should probably be said here about the incredible ministry of mature Christians. We live in a culture that glorifies youth. Sometimes our most productive years in spiritual service for God, happen in our retirement years. You may not do the same things you did when you were 30 or 40, but your service is just as valuable. Don’t sit on the side-lines! See for full details!
In the middle of a massive, dysfunctional religious system, here are four people who love God. 2 young people just starting their journey and 2 nearing the end of theirs, gather around Jesus, the child of Christmas, This is God’s beautiful resolution of every one of his promises. And by faith, every one of those promises are appropriated to people who come to this child.
Now watch Simeon.
Luke 2:28–32 NIV
28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
The old man takes the child in his arms and breaks into song!
Nunc Dimmitus
Now I can depart. At the sight of Jesus, this old man breaks into praise and says, “Now I can die in peace.” He has seen Jesus! He has seen and recognizes God’s plan. At the sight of Jesus, his life is fulfilled.
Do you think there’s a chance we take him a bit too lightly?
Two distinct aspects of this song:
A light of revelation for the Gentiles
Two questions pop up:
Who/what are Gentiles?
What is meant to be a light of revelation?
A couple of weeks ago we talked how darkness represents; danger, fear, ignorance of God, sin.
Here Simeon says, “Christmas is God’s answer to all that.”
Jesus is God’s answer to fear.
Jesus is God’s answer to danger.
Jesus is God’s answer to shame.
If you want to know God’s will, look at Jesus.
If you want to know God, look closely at Jesus.
Thomas said, “show us the Father...”
Press in a bit here - see Jesus as he is, not an image remade in your image. Politics. Miracles and morality.
Jesus is the light of revelation for the Gentiles. In other words, Jesus is God’s Christmas present to the whole world. That means everyone.
The guy at work that you can’t stand - Jesus is the light for them.
That family member that gives you trouble - Jesus is God’s light for them
The neighbor that parties through all hours of the night - Jesus is God’s light for them.
Your muslim neighbor, Jesus is God’s light.
The glory of your people Israel
God made a promise to Abraham that is fulfilled in Jesus. Israel is glorified because it brought Jesus.
Jesus is the glory of Israel, because through him, they perform their service to the world. Jesus is the one that makes Israel great. When the promises of God come, they come through the Promised One of Israel.
The great Israelite Simeon sings for joy at the sight of this baby! Can you imagine being Joseph and Mary right now?
It would have been nice if he would have stopped there, but...
Lk2.
Luke 2:33–35 NIV
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
They marveled at him and I’m sure they wished he would have stopped there. But he didn’t
A sword will pierce Mary’s soul. Not the kind of thing a young mother wants to hear!
Mary’s pain will come from the intense rejection of her child AND from the priorities of his ministry. Jesus won’t always do things they way you want. Often the things he’ll require you to do, you won’t want to. Don’t miss that.
This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel.
Jesus is the great Watershed! Not simply in Israel but in all the world. We simply see it played out in the pages of the NT.
The thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.
At the end of the day, our hearts are laid bare before God, we can’t hide it. Our response to Jesus will be all that matters.
It’s easy to think of this in terms of those who reject Jesus but there is a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus.
Illustrate
I want to push further because God has been pressing on my own heart here. When I look at people in my family or in my neighborhood and think they’ll never come to Christ, their too; tough, nasty, broken, Muslim, you fill in the blank, the thoughts of our hearts are revealed. You see we can be more impressed with the ___________ of people than Jesus. Oh, we wouldn’t ever say that but the thoughts of our hearts are revealed in our actions.
Standing in the shadow of the Temple that morning were religious people bustling all around but only a few that recognized the true Temple. I want to challenge you this Christmas to see through the business and even the religiosity. See Christmas through the eyes of Simeon, Mary and Jo, Anna! See Jesus and stand in awe of God’s marvelous answer to a lost and broken world! Jesus is the light of salvation for the whole world! Jesus is, as John would later write, the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. The light of Jesus shines in the darkest places, of our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, and even the unbelieving—unforgiving—unrepentant corners of our hearts. Let the light shine.
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