Simeon's Consolation (Luke 2:29-32)
Topic: Luke Passage: Luke 2:29–2:32
Go Tell It on the Mountain
(One Mission: I Am Not Ashamed)
December 21st, 2014
I. Three Praises
This morning we return one last time to the opening chapters of the Gospel of Luke. As we've talked about, this ground zero when it comes to the Christmas story. But one of the features of these first two chapters that is not typically a part of the traditional story is the presence of three songs or praises that are lifted up by individuals who have been deeply affected by the reality of Jesus.
Now think again about what we've said about the significance of these three praises. They are examples to us, reminders that those who have been deeply affected by the reality of Jesus cannot help but speak about what they have and are experiencing. In the same way, the coming of Jesus into the world should change your world and my world in such a way that we should also speak about Him, not simply from a sense of duty, but fundamentally from the overflow of our hearts.
From “Mary's Adoration” two weeks ago, and “Zechariah's Declaration” last week, we took away six principles that we should want to be at work in our hearts:
I Speak about Jesus When I am in Awe of God's “Great Things” for Me
I Speak about Jesus When I am Astounded by God's Reversals
I Speak about Jesus When I am Amazed at How God Keeps His Promises
I Speak about Jesus When I Understand His Commitment to His People
I Speak about Jesus When I Embrace His Will for Those Around Me
I Speak about Jesus When I Appreciate the Freedom His Forgiveness Brings
So God has wonderfully given us one more praise this morning. It is a much smaller praise that we can call Simeon's Consolation, and it can be found in Luke 2:29-32. Would you turn there if you have not already?
II. The Passage: “My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation” (Luke 2:29-32)
Now as we swoop into the final paragraphs of Luke 2, it's well over a month after the birth of Jesus. His parents have brought him to the Temple in Jerusalem in order to both register him as a firstborn son, and to make the proper purification sacrifice after childbirth. So as they enter the outer Temple courts they meet a man name Simeon.
Now as we will see from Simeon's praise, there are at least two things we can take away in light of his example. The first thing we learn from Simeon is that...
A. I Speak about Jesus When I See Him as My Ultimate Satisfaction (2:29, 30)
We learn from verse 28 that Simeon “took [the baby Jesus] up in his arms and blessed God and said...”
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;  for my eyes have seen your salvation...”
Now right away, if we are not familiar with the context here, there are a couple big questions about Simeon's statement in verse 29. First, what does Simeon mean when he says that God is letting him “depart in peace”, and second, how is it “according to [God's] word”. Well, both of those questions are answered in the preceding verses. Look at what Luke tells us about Simeon in verses 25 and 26...
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
So Simeon loved God, and he loved God's commands, and he loved God's people. And because he did, he was eagerly waiting for the promises of God to be fulfilled, the very promises that Mary and Zechariah already spoke about in chapter 1. Look back at 1:54, 55:
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,  as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
And Zechariah affirmed what Mary expressed. He declared in 1:68-70...
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people  and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,  as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old...”
Simeon knew all of Israel's hopes rested on the coming Messiah, the coming king. And he because he so deeply cherished these promises, God mercifully revealed to him that he would not die without seeing this new king. Just as Moses was permitted to see the Promised Land before his death, so too was Simeon permitted to see the Promised Savior. Listen when you a “bucket list” like Simeon's, you only need that one entry, that one item.
Just think about what Simeon must have been feeling when he held that baby in his arms. He was so overwhelmed by God's mercy and faithfulness, that he couldn't not speak. Everything was going to be okay because of the child in his arms. Every hope, every prayer, every fear, every longing, every need would ultimate be satisfied in Jesus.
And the same is true for us today. Simeon might have seen Jesus with the eyes of his head, but we can see Jesus with the eyes of our heart. One day, we will see Him with the eyes of our head, but for now, we can look on Him and look to Him in faith. And when we do, like Simeon, we must recognize that He is all we need; that life is full because of Him; that we everything in Him; that even if we were to die tomorrow, we would die satisfied because of Jesus Christ. For as Paul reminds us in Philppians 1, in Him, even death is gain.
Speaking of Paul, just think about what Paul tells us in Col. 1:15-20 concerning Jesus...
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
In light of that mind-boggling description, it's no wonder that Paul's desire for his readers is...
...that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2, 3)
Even though he probably didn't understand all of that, Simeon clearly knows those “riches of full assurance of understanding”. Think about it for a minute. The fire to speak of and for Jesus burns when we see, with eyes of faith, that Jesus is our ultimate satisfaction.
When we hurt, He is the Great Physician. When we search for peace, He is the Prince of Peace. When we weep, His Spirit is the Comforter. When we are lonely, He is our friend and brother. When we yearn for love and commitment, He is our unwavering husband. When we seek guidance, He is the head of the body. When there is chaos inside, He speaks peace to the storm. When we need nurture, He is the vine. When we need access to God, He is the Gate. When we need advocacy, He is the mediator, the great High Priest. When we are guilty, He is our innocence. When we are stained, He covers us. When we are lost, He is the way. When we are blinded by lies, He is the truth. When we are sinking, He is the rock. When the darkness overwhelms us, He is the light of the world. When we are condemened and held captive, He is our ransom and Redeemer. When we are hungry, He is the bread of life. When we are afraid, He is the King of Kings, the Lord, the Son of God...and by grace, He is for us.
If you truly believe that, like Simeon, you cannot help but speak of Him. He is so good. But the conclusion of Simeon's praise expands on this. We go on to learn that...
B. I Speak about Jesus When I See Him as Their Ultimate Satisfaction (2:31, 32)
Listen to the final part of this short praise (picking up at the end of verse 30)...
“...for my eyes have seen your salvation  that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,  a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Simeon knows this is not just about him, not just about his own personal consolation. He knows Israel needs to be consoled as well. He even understands that the Gentiles, the non-Jewish nations, that all of them need to be consoled because of the misery of sin. The Old Testament spoke about this very thing. Not only would the Messiah bring hope to Israel, but ultimately, to all nations.
As we think about the ways in which Jesus satisfies our deepest needs and strongest yearnings, that should color the way we talk with those around us. Why? Because all of us are the same. Every single one of us is aware of the needs and desires of the people around us. Sometimes, it's painfully clear from the way they struggle to meet those needs, the way they pursue those desires. Other times, they share those needs and hurts and fears and confusion with us directly. Some ask for help, and some are just wanting to be heard.
But like Simeon, we need to revel in the fact that the coming of Jesus means hope for longing hearts held fast in the grip of sin and death. We have the answer, don't we? We know the way, don't we? We have the bread of life. We have the water of life. We have the truth. We see the light, right? It should not be a secret, because God has salvation that [he has] prepared in the presence of all peoples
But we have to be convinced that what we needed is what they need; that our diagnosis is their diagnosis. We cannot get caught up in the drama of how the unsaved define their needs. We cannot simply serve them according to the terms of their self-salvation projects. We must serve them in order to point them to God's salvation. I know when you step into people's lives, it can be very confusing at first. But like Simeon, if our eyes are on Jesus, if we are satisfied in Him, then we will know the way and can show the way.
III. “I Can Die Now”
Don't you love the story of Simeon? Does it encourage you? Do you feel a connection with him in terms of faith, in terms of being ultimately satisfied with Jesus? We can all imagine some teenage fan girl who gets a hug or a kiss on the cheek from the latest, greatest pop star and declares, almost fainting, “I can die now”.
But think about what she's really saying. She's saying she now has the very thing she so passionately sought; her life's pursuit. And since this goal has been the very thing that's driven her forward each day, as far as she understands herself, there is no longer any reason to keep living. Life has reached it's highest point.
Do you feel the same way about Jesus? Sure, we know that as long as we breathe God has work for us to do; there is always a good reason we remain. But we should also know that if we were to die today, we would not miss out on anything that could ever compare to everything we have in Jesus. Simeon knew this, therefore he spoke. He couldn't not speak.
You may remember we've finished each of the past two Sundays with a verse or passage from the letters of the New Testament, verses that encourage us to speak of Jesus, to “Go Tell It on the Mountain”, not only that Jesus is born, but that Jesus is Lord. Here they are:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek... (Romans 1:16)
But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,  but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect... (I Peter 3:14, 15)
This morning, let's maintain this pattern and add one more passage to our study. Listen to what Paul writes later in his letter to the Colossians...
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:5-6)
Remember what we already learned from Colossians? Chapter 2, verse revealed to us that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It is the fullness of that wisdom that affects our conduct. And when Jesus matters most to us, then we also want to make our interactions with other matter. Look at how Paul talks about our words in Colossians 4. They are to be gracious. This is speech that, as Paul puts it in Ephesians 4:29, “gives grace to those who hear”.
Notice why this grace is important. It's so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. It seems that Paul is saying, “Hey, people are going to ask you questions. They are going to say thing about your conduct, about your lives. Speak graciously to them. Be considerate, be gentle, be respectful, listen to them. Why? So you can respond in a way that really blesses them, in a way that really answers their questions and addresses their comments.” In that way, says Paul, your conversation will be flavored with God's grace, just as food is flavored with salt.
When we are satisfied with Jesus, people can't help but notice. In will be obvious in one way or another. And when they notice, are we prepared to point them to the same ultimate satisfaction that fills our hearts?
You parents know that after the birth of your children, one of the first things you are thinking about is “How do I let others know that baby 'such and such' has come into the world?” Today, it's a little easier to get the word out with e-mail and social media. But before that, and even today in so many cases, a parent may call two or three key people and let them know the good news. And then they in turn get the word out to other people.
Brothers and sisters, if you are disciple of Jesus, if you have been born again because of His love and grace, then YOU are one of God's key people. This Christmas, He has good news for you to pass along, good news that a baby has been born, good news that a life has come into the world. Few things surpass the wonder and joy of welcoming your own child into the world. But one that does, and should, is the wonder and joy of Jesus.
Is your heart full this morning? So full it's trying to push up and out of you? The joy of Christmas should open our mouths.
I want to pray for you this morning, that God would do just this week. In all of the conversations, in all of the interactions, by card or note, or in person, maybe in line, or even online, in every way, at all times, you will, out of the overflow of your heart, that you, like Mary, like Zechariah, like Simeon, that you will speak because of and of Jesus Christ.
Let's do that together. Let's pray that the joy of Christmas will open our mouths.