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Read Luke 2:21-40.

How long had old Simeon been waiting to see the Messiah? When he heard the Holy Spirit’s promise that he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Anointed One, what did he expect?

Anna waits too. She’s a godly woman. She is well-respected and comes to the Temple daily – often she stays from sunrise to sunset. She has the gift of prophecy and that is exceptional. In a society where women are not given much respect, it is astounding when a woman claims to speak for the Lord God. Anna’s manner of life is above reproach and that lends to her credibility.

Anna’s from the North country, but she and Simeon have a lot in common, these two aged Israelites. They are both quite old and their lives span almost a century. During that century they have seen dark days ...

Simeon hopes for the day that Israel can be comforted.
Anna has taught her students that despite all the difficulties of the age, God will keep the promises he made to Abraham and rescue Israel – he will make this declining nation into something wonderful.
Simeon and Anna are waiting for a ray of God’s light to pierce the darkness.

So, when the aged Simeon with his wrinkled, crippled hands holds this six-week old child his hope is fulfilled. All the years of waiting and praying, the recommitment to believe the Spirit’s promise all pays off in this one simple moment – he has seen with his own eyes the salvation of Israel. Now Simeon is at peace. His wait is over.

Simeon has spiritual insight. Chalk it up to the power of the Holy Spirit and years of waiting to see what God has promised. Though he is old, Simeon’s spiritual vision is keen and sharp. He knows that though he has waited for years to see the Lord’s savior and receives this as a blessing, he knows that some will not be so receptive. And so his blessing for Mary and the child speaks of the grand destiny of the child Jesus – yes, Jesus represents hope and salvation, but that which makes Jesus a hope for many also threatens others.

“This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Simeon’s ray of light casts a shadow. Some will fall and some will rise. Some will accept the sign and others will speak out against it. Why? Because the inner thoughts and motives of all will be revealed ...

  1. Rejection: Simeon knows that the sign to be opposed and rejected threatens what is already there. Everything is not a-okay until Christ arrives and makes it difficult. No, the pain and disease is under the surface and eating away on humanity and the world. The light of Christ simply uncovers it all and makes it known. When you turn on the light, it creates shadows. Some things reject the light.
    Illustration: Thomas Kincade’s portraits. Shadows are absent. We may try to connect Jesus only to that which is positive and cheerful, but there is a bitter assumption for the good news. Jesus is a savior and needing a savior assumes that there are people who need saving.

  2. Renewal: Change and renewal are not always embraced. The experience can be painful and demand sacrifice and even loss. Resurrection follows a death. This is why we must reflect and count the cost of discipleship. There is an investment – a costly one. When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die. Hope is made possible but only through sacrifice. But some would rather remain in the cold shadows than risk the challenge of renewal. They would rather deny than decide.

  3. Decision: Jesus will bring the truth to light – and that is risky. Revealing the truth calls those who confront truth into a crisis of decision! You have to decide. You cannot remain unaffected. You can reject, but you cannot be unimpressed if you really understand what Jesus’ presence and mission really is!

  4. Simeon and Anna stand apart from those who reject Christ because they realize that the very old promises of God can be kept in new and unexpected ways. They decide to receive the child rather than reject him. And they are renewed!

After Simeon’s blessing, Anna steps up and places a hand on Mary’s shoulder. She smiles and looks at the child. Her students have gathered around and she tells them though she is not certain if she will live to see it, that many of them will see with their own eyes God’s redemption of Jerusalem. They will see the rule of God spread out from Jerusalem and into the far reaches of the earth. This child is the light of the world!

It’s been centuries since old Simeon and Anna saw the Light of the World come into the world. Simeon died in peace. Like all righteous men, he longed to see God’s work done on earth. When he saw Jesus, he had all the hope he needed.

Since the time of Simeon and Anna, the great battle was won too. The enemy is defeated, but he has not conceded. He will never concede until Jesus brings his light into the world once more. Wouldn’t it be great to see that before you die?

You don’t have to be old to be like Simeon and Anna. If you’ve just had enough darkness and are looking to see a ray of light. If you want peace in your heart – having no fear of death or darkness. Then you are Simeon. You are Anna.

Depending on how old you are, you’ve seen many dark days ... 9-11, Columbine, Jonesboro, the OKC bombing, the start of the first Gulf War, the assassination of a President, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Those are just the big ticket items. Every one of us has a day or two (or more) that we can circle on a calendar as a dark day. Maybe it’s the day tragedy invaded. Maybe it’s the day we made a mistake we find hard to forget and impossible to undo. Maybe it’s a season of stress and worry that we just find difficult to name.

God is still keeping his promises. Even if you have seen as much as Simeon and Anna; keep your eyes open for a new ray of light. Keep your ears open for a word of good news. Let us pray for that day to come!

Keep watch! Keep praying! You may yet see the Light of the World shine forth ever brighter in your lifetime!

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 30 December 2007

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