We Have Seen God's Salvation

1st Sunday after Christmas
December 31, 2017
Lincoln Heights Lutheran Church
We Have Seen God’s Salvation

Luke 2:25–40 (NIV84)
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. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 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, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 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.” 36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Dear Friends in Christ,

The anticipation of Christmas can make the days before Christmas go very slowly for a child. What presents might I get? What is that big one under the tree? When are grandma and grandpa and my cousins going to be here? When do I get to open the presents? And when the moment arrives, it is over in just a moment. The wrapping paper is flying and presents are opened in a mad rush. Now family has gone home or we have left family. The special cooking and baking are completed. It is back to normal life. Work begins again and school is just around the corner. It took forever for Christmas to arrive and suddenly it is back to normal daily life.

And what has changed? We might have a few more things, a few more bills or a few more pounds. The things will last for a little while. Hopefully the bills will be paid off soon. And the pounds? Those might be harder to get rid of. Our secular celebration of Christmas does not have much of a lasting impact on our lives. But the very first Christmas has a lasting impact for Simeon, Anna, Mary, Joseph and you. Along with Simeon, We Have Seen God’s Salvation. Therefore we will live forever and live now for God.

Therefore We Will Live Forever

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. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Can you imagine the anticipation of Simeon? Somehow the Holy Spirit told him that he would live until the day he saw the Christ. God’s people had been waiting for God to send the Christ for at least 4,000 years. Simeon knows that it will happen in his lifetime. Can you see him waking up each morning like a child waiting for Christmas morning, saying to God, “Is today the day?”? “Is today the day I get to see the Christ?” Finally, that day arrived for Simeon.

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, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Simeon’s long wait was over. He was holding his salvation in his arms, gazing upon Jesus with his own eyes. This child is the one who brings salvation to all people, both Jew and Gentile. Jesus will bring consolation and peace to sinners through the forgiveness of sins. This child brings eternal life to all who believe in him. Simeon believed God’s promises of a Savior and saw God’s salvation in Jesus, the Christ.

Of course, Mary and Joseph marvel at what Simeon says. It is the same message as Gabriel told Mary when announcing that she would be the mother of the Christ. It is the same as what the angel told the shepherds, the good news of great joy for all the people. Christ the Savior is born for all people. It is all good news. But now Simeon brings in the reality of how Jesus will accomplish this salvation for the world.

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.”

Up to this point, Christmas has been a joyful time. Everyone Mary and Joseph meet rejoices in the birth of the Christ. But there will be many who do not rejoice like the shepherds or Simeon or Anna. Soon, King Herod will hear that another king has been born in Bethlehem. He will try to kill the Christ child. When Jesus begins his public ministry, many will oppose him. They will accuse him of being in league with the devil. His own people will plot to kill him and with the help of the Romans will accomplish their goal. They did not want the Christ God sent. They did not want a Savior to give them eternal life. They wanted a good life now and Jesus got in the way of that good life now.

Mary knows that Jesus is the Savior, the Christ promised by God. How difficult it must have been for her to have Jesus be hated by her own people. How difficult it must have been to see Jesus suffer and die. But that is how it must be. The Christ must suffer as the ransom payment for the sin of the world. Anna knew that the Christ would bring redemption.

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to Jerusalem to fulfill the law of the firstborn. Every firstborn male belonged to the Lord and was to be redeemed, bought back, with an offering to the Lord. The child who was redeemed that day would three decades later redeem the world. Jesus would pay the ransom price to release all people from the punishment due for sin. His holy, precious blood was shed to redeem the world. For Simeon and Anna, seeing the Christ child meant seeing their Savior, Redeemer, Prince of Peace and the one who would bring them into eternal life. The day they saw Jesus in the temple courts was the best day of their lives but was only the beginning of an eternal life that the Christ child would give. May we look back on Christmas each year with the same attitude as Simeon and Anna as we rejoice that our Savior and Redeemer has been born for us and look forward to the eternal life he is preparing for us. We have seen God’s salvation in Christ and have eternal life through him.

Therefore We Will Live Now for God

The Holy Spirit has revealed God’s salvation to us through the gospel. We rejoice in the good news that brings great joy every Christmas. We look forward not only to the presents and family and baking that comes with Christmas but especially to the celebration of our Savior’s birth, the candlelight singing of Silent Night, the children’s Christmas Eve program and more. Now that we have rejoiced in the Christ who brings us eternal life, what are we going to do now? We follow the example of Mary and Joseph and or Simeon and Anna and Live for God Now.

Jesus the Christ is born of Mary and what do Mary and Joseph do next? What do they do once the angels have stopped singing and the shepherds have returned to their flocks? They live a life of thanks to God who has given them a Savior. It is not anything out of the ordinary. They simply obey what God has said. Joseph is a husband to Mary and raises Jesus. Mary is a wife for Joseph and mother of Jesus. Joseph makes things for people in his carpentry trade. They have Jesus circumcised on the eighth day as the law required. They go to Jerusalem to offer the prescribed sacrifices of two birds for purification after child birth. They give the redemption offering for Mary’s firstborn.

The Holy Spirit only records two events of Jesus’ childhood after this. One is the escape to Egypt after the wise men visit. The other is the twelve year old Jesus in the temple for the Passover feast. It seems that the rest of Jesus’ childhood was uneventful. Mary and Joseph raised Jesus in a typical believing household. They went to Jerusalem for the festivals. The Word of God was the center of their lives and they lived according to it. Jesus, perfectly. Mary and Joseph, imperfectly. Christmas did not change them into completely different people. They did not go out and do outwardly spectacular things in God’s kingdom. They simply lived their lives with trust in God and the Savior he provided for them who just happened to be raised by them. They obeyed God’s commandments and trusted that Jesus would forgive them when they didn’t.

Follow the example of Mary and Joseph and live each day of this new year knowing that you have seen God’s salvation and have the peace and forgiveness Jesus brings. Then live for God this year by trusting him and obeying his commandments. If something go in the way of trusting Christ last year, repent and get rid of the obstacle to your faith this year. If you have the habit of using God’s name in a frivolous way or to express anger at others, repent and use his saving name to bless others. If you have trouble submitting to parents, teachers, or others in authority, repent and show them honor and respect. Repent of hate and help others. Honor and respect marriage. Be generous with material possessions. Build others up with your words. Be content with what God has given to you in this life.

The birth of our Savior changes us. But we don’t have to do something completely amazing to show that we have seen God’s salvation. Show that you trust in Christ this year by obeying the commandments. It is as simple and as difficult as that. Simple because we know the commandments. Difficult because we can’t make it through a day without sinning. The good news is that our eternal salvation does not depend on our keeping of the commandments. It depends on the child Simeon held in his arms at the temple and the Christ child perfectly obeyed every commandment for us. Our obedience is a thank you to Jesus for all he has done. Our obedience is a way to show others that we trust in the Christ child who was born to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We have seen God’s salvation. May the Holy Spirit grant us strength to live for God in this world.

Amen.


 

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