Faithlife Sermons

Jesus is our Consolation

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It had been revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. Jesus was brought to the temple when he was eight days old, Simeon was moved by the spirit of God and he immediately recognized the child and took him into his arms and blessed him.
We learn that at that same hour Anna also recognizes the child and begins to thank God and speak about the baby.
So, here you have two old servants of God, representing the very best of the Old Covenant now seeing the Salvation of the world coming to fruition right in front of their eyes.
Of all the Jews that might have been chosen to recognize the Christ child, why these two?
Luke takes the time to give a description of these two and their devotion to the Lord.
Simeon is righteous and devout.
Simeon is filled with the Holy Spirit
Simeon was looking for the Consolation of Israel
Anna finds herself constantly in the temple worshiping.
She had a habit of fasting and praying day and night.
NOTE: Both were waiting and looking for God to do something. (Great expectant Hope.)
*Simeon and Anna were the perfect candidates for God go reveal his salvation to, because, they were both longing for God to break into history again to console and redeem his people by sending the Christ.
Las Vegas is the ‘Beacon’ of Humanity
Looking at our planet from space, astronauts and satellites tell a story of startling expansion and changes. It is the story of human progress told from a unique perspective. The greatest change can only be seen at night. Vast cities sprawl out in a web of lights. Astronaut Don Pettit explains in a Smithsonian documentary, “From the first time I flew to the last time, the main effect I saw on Earth was at night time, and it was the extent of lighting.”
Astronauts love taking pictures of cites at night. But there’s one city that stands out, not because of its size, color, or shape, but it’s brightness. Pettit says. “I like to refer to Las Vegas, tongue and cheek, as the beacon of humanity ... I don’t know if it’s the brightest city on earth but it is really, really bright.”
With billions of LED lights, and countless billboards and marquees, Vegas generates more light per square mile than any other city on the planet. At the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, a beam of light is projected up into the night sky from the Luxor resort pyramid. Curved mirrors are positioned to collect light from 39 xenon lamps creating a single intense, narrow beam. This one light produces 42 billion candle watts of power. The beam is visible by planes flying over Los Angeles, 275 miles away. It is an unmissable beacon from the heart of the Mojave desert.
Possible Preaching Angle:
It is sad but true that the identifying marks of our modern culture are often its cravings and excesses packaged in bright artificial light. In contrast, Christ, Christians, and churches are the true lights in a very dark world

BIG IDEA: How is your heart prepared to receive Christ for who he really is?

NOTE: Coincidence of Luke 1 Elizabeth and Zachariah (John the Baptists parents), Simeon and Anna are all very old? Why did God ordain that the parents of the last prophet be aged and of the Messiah be young?
Why are the two witnesses Simeon and Anna at the point of death when they see Jesus and testify to him? Luke himself seems to stress their age. He makes it explicit in each case.
NOTE: In both cases these old people are pictured and very devout godly people. Zachariah and Elizabeth are described as walking in all the commandments of the law and were righteous before God. Simeon and Anna were described as devout temple goers “looking of the redemption of Israel.”
Second clue we find in Luke 16:16 when Jesus proclaims, “The law and the prophets were until John, since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached. Luke is the only gospel writer to point this out. Up until this point the message of God had been spoken through the law and the prophets, but now with the arrival of Jesus the king and forerunner John, the word and rule of God is now proclaimed and encountered in a different way. Jesus is the Word; Jesus is the King, the long awaited kingdom has now arrived (at least partially).
The Shift Occurs
For those who believe in Jesus, an incredible shift has now occured: no longer do we live merely in the era of promise with the law of the prophets awaiting the consolation of Israel. Now we live in the era of fulfillment when the kingdom of God is preached as present and powerful, but not yet consummated.
Mary and Joseph perform the necessary requirements of the law. Likewise their sacrifice say’s something about their socioeconomic status.
2 Purposes of coming to the temple.
1)dedication of the firstborn
2)purification after childbirth (mother unclean for 7 days after the birth)
The offering of two turtle doves or pigeons shows that Joseph and Mary were very poor. A very deliberate reference to the ‘humble’ status of Mary and Joseph.

God prepares people to receive Christ by:

1. Pointing us to a stirring and longing for consolation.

Simeon was a godly Israelite who looked forward to God’s consolation of his people and had received a divine promise that he would not die before the coming of the Messiah.
We know very little about Simeon other than that he was a righteous and devout old man. He had spent his life probably looking for the consolation of Israel. The Jews had groaned in times of bondage, wept in times of exile, who now were oppressed under the heavy burden of the tyranny of Rome, looked to heaven for their release from suffering. It is people who experience consistent grief, frustration and pain who want to be consoled.
Expression of Consolation
Have you ever tried to console someone who seems inconsolable. The world through the centuries have tried to console themselves. Whether it’s in relationships, drinking, gaining wealth and prestige. The reality is all of these things are going to leave us hollow and inconsolable.
The reality is that the comfort, solace, encouragement sympathy and relief that our souls so desperately need cannot be soothed in through this world and what it has to offer.
Luke does not tell us how Simeon received the revelation. All we know is, God privately told Simeon that before he died he would see the Messiah with his own eyes. I wonder how he handled that special information? I wonder if there was a time that he doubted it? I wonder if he had told any of his contemporaries that he had received this special kind of revelation?
What do you think would happen if God entrusted to you this kind of secret, a private message, and you told that to your friends?
I picture this old devout man coming into the temple day after day. He would get up first thing in the morning and go to the temple. he would look around and the priest in the temple would say, ‘What are you doing, Simeon? What are you looking for?’ Simeon would say, ‘Well, I just came today to check and see if the Messiah was here.’ He would be disappointed day after day after day. But, God had told him that he would see the Messiah and he had waited and waited, and gone time after time after time, presumably, to the temple, yet every time that he went, looking for the Messiah, the Messiah was nowhere to be seen.
It is so good to see young and zealous Christians in the faith who have become so filled with excitement about learning and studying and serving in this capacity or that in the life of the Church. but I am also aware of the fact that the youthful exuberance of new Christianity tends to dissipate over time as they become confronted with a resisting world, a hostile environment. The obstacles and the difficulties that this person encounters in their daily lives often have a tendency to cool and temper the spirit of the young Christian. What has inspired me throughout my life and walk with Christ is the old saint, the one who has kept the faith, who has fought the good fight of the faith, who has endured for decade after decade. It is no wonder to me that when the Bible calls us to postures of respect for people, that those who are singled out for honor include the elders who have been faithful, those people who have maintained devotion to God over a long period of time. Those are the people who deserve our utmost respect, and how easy it is for us to treat the elderly with contempt, as though their testimony, their track records, were insignificant.
But, on this one great glorious day as was his custom. He came to the temple, and we read that he came ‘in the Spirit’. Notice that it say’s that he came in the Spirit, not that he received the spirit and then came. This would suggest that this was not a one time filling of the spirit, it was a continual state for Simeon.
Luke tells us that when his parents brought in the child Jesus, ‘that they made concerning him after the custom of the Law, then he (that is Simeon) received him into his arms and blessed God.’ He saw a poverty-stricken peasant couple, holding a baby which perhaps was still adorned in the swaddling cloths, but instantly, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, he recognized him as the Savior of the World.
In relation to the FIRST and SECOND coming.
FIRST COMING: The first longing of our consolation or comfort to be redeemed granting us now the privilege to receive the Christ into our arms, our lives.
SECOND COMING: To complete the redemption he began about 1,986 years ago. For example Hebrews 9:28 “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. This is the spirit that groans within us Paul talks about in Romans 8.
Paul also mentions this in
2 Timothy 4:8

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

1 Peter 1:13

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

So, God prepares us to receive Christ by stirring up a longing for consolation and redemption that can only come from Christ.
The same is true for professing Christians today: we will welcome Christ at his coming if we love his appearing and eagerly wait for his second coming to the final consummation of his redemption.

The consolation of our Conversion

NOTE: The coming of Christ to the individual hearts in what we call conversion. You did not do this God does this when He draws and calls us to himself.
So, God prepares a person to receive Christ by stirring up a longing for consolation and redemption that can come only from Christ.
Martin Luther’s Conversion
The story of Martin Luther’s conversion illustrates this point. He had almost been struck with lightning and made a vow to God to become a monk. But as a monk he was utterly unable to find peace with God. He sought God in every way the church of that day taught him - in good works, in the merits of the saint, in the process of confession and absolution, in the ladder of mysticism. On top of all this, Staupitz, his superior, appointed him to the university to study and teach Bible.
Listen to the way Luther later describes his breakthrough. How was he prepared to see and receive Christ for who he really is?
“Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that “the just shall live by faith.” Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise.
In the monastery Luther had come to the end of himself. He had despaired of salvation. But by the grace of God he did not give up his longing for hope. He directed his attention to the one place he hoped to find help - the Bible. He said, “I greatly longed to understand.” He said, “ I had a great yearning” to know what it meant. And he said, “Night and day I longed in my heart for the consolation of my redemption that could only come through Christ.

2. Pointing us to the source and goal our Longings.

This is what God does again and again. He may be doing this for you during this advent season, graciously and tenderly frustrating you by filling you with longings this morning, longings that no matter what you try in the world to fulfill will never bring the consolation and satisfy the longing.
Isaiah 40:1–2 ESV
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

The Consolation that Jesus Brings

Consolation of our fathers tender affection for us in our weakness.

Consolation of God’s pardon for a sin-sick people.

(when Jesus was born, the voice of God became flesh and dwelt among us. And what the voice was saying is “console, console my people.)

Consolation that places God’s anger in the past

(our sins are pardoned and “cast into the depth of the sea Micah 7:19. This is the consolation that Simeon was looking for. And it is the consolation that you and me are looking for too.)
Luke 2:29–32 ESV
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Consolation for Jews and Gentiles
God made sure that we desperate Gentiles would not rule ourselves out of this consolation.
God’s consolation shines the light of Jesus not only to the nation of Israel but also for the Gentiles. The blessing of God’s consolation is now available to all who will receive it. It is for the world. This is why the angels in the field that night told the shepherds that they had news of great joy that would be for all people.

Jesus is the perfect fulfillment

Jesus is universal amnesty of God

Jesus is the source of healing

Healing for our sin sick souls happens when we look back on all sin and hate and anger and guilt and shame and doubt and failure.
Isaiah 49:13 ESV
13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.
We Want our Superheroes to Identify with Us
Since 1939, Stan Lee created or co-created some of the world’s most popular superheroes. His super-human imagination gave birth to Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, and Ant-Man, just to name a few.
Of course, the world has no shortage of storytellers, but Lee was something of a mutant in the field. The Avengers series alone has generated more than $10 billion in ticket sales at the box office since 2008. So, what set his stories apart from the rest? Lee was able to tap into deeply rooted human instincts.
He explains his secret in a 1984 interview with ET:
The whole formula … was to say: Let’s assume that somebody really could walk on walls like Spider-Man, or turn green and become a monster like The Hulk. That’s a given; we’ll accept that. But, accepting that, what would that person be like in the real world if he really existed? Wouldn’t he still have to worry about making a living? Or having acne and dandruff? Or his girlfriend jilting him? What are the real problems people would have? I think that’s what made the books popular.
We all know we need a superhero to rescue us from our enemies and from calamities. But we simultaneously want this hero to be someone with whom we can identify. There are two instincts woven into our fallen nature: the knowledge that we need someone to save us and the deep desire for another to understand our struggles. Lee was also well-known for his cameo appearances inside the stories he had written. Each film since X-Men in 2000 has featured a brief incarnation of the author.
Possible Preaching Angle:
Stan Lee wasn’t the first to write himself into his storyline. Jesus did not simply rescue us from afar. He wrote himself into our story. He became a man and subjected himself to all the tyrannies of a fallen world.

3. Pointing us to our redeemer.

It makes sense to set our heart on Christ because he is the “redemption of Jerusalem.” Anna spoke of him to all “who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Be Born in Us Today
If Jesus were born one thousand times in Bethlehem and not in me, then I would still be lost.
Luke 2:38 ESV
38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible Redeemer, Redemption

Redeemer, Redemption. English words derived from a Latin root meaning “to buy back,” thus meaning the liberation of any possession, object, or person, usually by payment of a ransom. In Greek the root word means “to loose” and so to free. The term is used of freeing from chains, slavery, or prison. In the theological context, the term “redemption” indicates a freeing from the slavery of sin, the ransom or price paid for freedom. This thought is indicated in the Gospels, which speak of Christ who came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45).

The fulfillment of
Isaiah 52:9 ESV
9 Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem.
In the coming of Christ the prophecy was fulfilled. The Lord has “consoled his people” - that’s what Simeon was looking for; and the Lord has “redeemed Jerusalem” that’s what Anna was looking for.
*Consolation is when God comes to heal and restore and revive all that has ben thrown away or lost.

Redemption points us to our longing to be delivered.

The need to be delivered from the powers that still hold us captive. Redemption is a work of power to save us from our enemies that still threaten us.
J. I. Packer on the Hope of Christmas
The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity—hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory—because at the Father's will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later he might hang on a cross.
—J. I. Packer, English-Canadian theologian (1926–)

Redemption points us to our longing for victory.

When we set our hearts on Christ we have our longings for victory over the forces of evil in our lives.
God owns everything, and there is nothing that you could receive this Christmas that would suit your longings better than the consolation of Israel and the redemption of Jerusalem, restoration for the past losses and liberation from future enemies, healing the past and securing our future.
NOTE: If there is a longing in your heart today for something that the world cannot satisfy, could it not be God’s Christmas gift preparing you to see Christ as consolation and redemption, and to receive him for who he really.
How is the heart prepared to Receive Christ?

1) The heart must become disenchanted with the praise of men.

John 5:44 ESV
44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
John 7:17–18 ESV
17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.

2) The heart must become disenchanted with the sufficiency of money and things.

3) There must become a longing for consolation and a redemption beyond what this world can offer.

4) There must be a revelation from God the Father, opening our eyes and hearts to Christ.

The eyes of the heart must be opened until it cries out, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God.”

The consolation of my past, and the redemption of my future.

Now I see you. Now I receive you - for who you really are.
Advent: A Season That Says Something Great Is on the Horizon
The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before… . What is possible is not to see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God's [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon
This is exactly what Simeon and Anna had done, day in and day out, they sat, prayed and waited for their consolation to come. What are you waiting on today? How is your heart prepared to receive and see Christ for who he really is and what he came to do?
Maybe for you today it’s time to stop, sit, and listen.
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