LUKE 2:21-40 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 26 DECEMBER 2021
Each year at this time we remember and celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, Jesus, who is God in the flesh. He was sent by God to the earth to be our Savior. He was sent to bring all of mankind into a real relationship with Himself.
And, with that celebration and remembrance, we enjoy the holiday with family and friends. That is all as it should be. And, after all the activities that go with the season are over, we are ready to begin a new year.
But, did you ever think, as we read the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus, what happened in the days following his miraculous birth? Most of us are pretty well familiar with that part of the story. However, the Gospel writer, Luke, gives us some insight into, as Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.”
In his writing of chapter 2, verses 21-40 we can gain answers to the question as to what happened in Jesus’ life after His family returned to their home.
Read Luke 2:21-40
Luke chooses to tell his readers (us) about Jesus being brought to the temple after he was eight days old, to be circumcised, according to the Law. Now, Jesus’ appearance at the temple was actually expected and prophesied hundreds of years prior to His birth.
Malachi 3:1 speaks of this event, by saying: “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the Lord of hosts.”
The primary purpose for the visit to the temple at this time was to fulfill the requirements of the Law pertaining to the birth of Jesus.
What actually is taking place here is the disclosure of the inspired proclamations of who this child is – that He is God’s Messiah.
Two persons are mentioned in Luke’s account of Jesus’ first appearance at the temple. They are Simeon and Anna.
Simeon and Anna would be known as model disciples. In human nature, they had no greatness which would qualify them to announce that this child is the Messiah. They had no power or position. To some of the officials of the temple, Simeon and Anna were likely looked upon as some eccentric lunatics.
Anna continually prayed in the temple every day. She prayed for the sins of Israel, which would naturally rile up the temple rulers who were some who committed the sins of Israel.
Simeon was an old man, considered useless and probably a little unstable by the religious leaders of the temple. Who was he to make this statement concerning the coming of the Messiah?
We can learn some lessons, as Christians today, from Anna and Simeon. First, we can be reminded of what really matters in life. Simeon was not a religious leader. He simply was a man who trusted God, obeyed His Word, and looked forward to His coming Kingdom, and he was led by the Spirit of God.
What mattered to Anna was not marriage and family – we are not told that she had either – what mattered was her faithfulness to God. That drove her to pray every day in the temple. The praying and fasting she faithfully carried out was seen as superficial to the leaders of the temple – a waste of time. Shouldn’t she be at home caring for her family? The prayer and the proclamation of God’s Word was her priority.
Their role in this temple appearance is to identify and testify to the fact that He is God’s Son sent to save the world. They clearly informed the priests and other so-called godly Israelites who had been anticipating the arrival of the Messiah, that He was here, and here He is - this child is He.
The coming of the kingdom of God was the one great hope, the one great motivation of these two saints, Simeon, and Anna. That same one great hope and the coming of the kingdom of God should also be our great motivation in prayer, and service in the church today.
Peter wrote: “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!”
And John adds this to us: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
There is something in this passage in Luke 2 which is spectacular. It is in the speech of Simeon. In verse 28, we are told that Simeon took Jesus in his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace. According to your word. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all people. A light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
What a powerful statement! “I have seen the salvation of the world in this child. He is who you have prepared as a revelation both to Gentiles and Jews.”
That revelation is that Jesus is the Messiah, the promised One from God. He is the Savior of the world! He, and only He, can forgive us of our sins and make us clean. He alone has the power to save us from the fire and destruction that hell promises us.
This Biblical account here in Luke 2 reveals the quality of life of the Christian who has come to grips with the reality of death; one whose faith is in a God who raises the dead. Like Simeon, we have to ask ourselves: “are we even eager to die because we have also seen God’s Messiah, and are ready to leave this earth behind, because we know that God’s promises are for the living and the dead?”
Or, are we like the self-righteous temple leaders who thought their position or their keeping of every jot and tittle would save them from hell?
Or are we like Anna and Simeon. How eager are we to see the Messiah face to face? Are we ready to say, “My eyes have seen the salvation of the Lord. Are we ready to say to God, I am ready to depart this place in peace, knowing I am in the arms of my Savior?
For the Christian, the Lord Jesus Christ is the focal point of life, the governing principle, and the priority of life.
If you have not trusted Jesus Christ as God’s promised One who forgives our sin and cleanses us, I urge you to listen to the testimony of saints like Anna and Simeon. Believe this Word is the Word of God; confess Jesus Christ as Lord; recognize you have sin in your life and confess that sin to Him, turning away to walk in a new path; and be baptized into Him for the forgiveness of your sin, and begin to walk in a new way of life with Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit guiding you every step of the way.