Songs of Christmas Praise
Simeon’s Song of Salvation
December 17, 2017
There has something about each of these Songs of Christmas Praise that has really spoke to my heart. With each of them, including the one we will be looking at today, there was expectancy. The people involved, knew the promises of God. They did not treat the Word of God like some kind of good guidelines for moral living that you only believe the parts you want to believe. Not at all!
Zechariah, Mary, and today, Simeon and Anna, all lived in expectancy of what God said would happen and they lived each day for the glory of God. They believed completely in the literal fulfillment of what His Word told them. In other words, in each of these praise songs, the thing that stands out to me is that they knew the Word of God, they live with expectancy that His Word will be fulfilled, and they looked for it . . . . much like a lost person in the dark of night looking for the sunrise.
The last two songs of praise we looked at came before Jesus’ birth, certainly confirming their expectant hope. Today’s song of praise comes after the birth of Jesus. Mary and Joseph have made the arduous journey to Bethlehem. Even, those of you who have experienced pregnancy probably have a hard time imagining riding a donkey about 100 miles while being 9 months pregnant. But then, finding nowhere to stay the night, going to an animal stable was their only option, probably a cave where animals were kept at night. Of course, one thing leading to another, that night, the labor pains become intense, probably due to the donkey journey, and Mary gives birth to Jesus.
In this environment, there was no place to lay the newborn down to sleep, except in a feeding manger. This is where the Son of God in human flesh spent His first night. The King of Heaven, birthed from the womb of a human mother, born into our world as a human Baby, in a stinking animal shelter, and now sleeping where animals feed. This reminds me of Philippians 2: 5-8:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
God became human to make a way of salvation for human kind. Zechariah understood this. Mary understood this. It was evident in both of their praise songs. This causes me to stop and think about my expectancy of what God has promised, my devotion to living for Him in my belief in the Word of God. Do I understand and truly look for the rapture of the church? That day when we will meet Him in the air. Do I live each day in expectancy of the fulfillment of that promise? Or do I live each day for how I can best get along in this world? Do we live each day with conviction and expectancy like Zechariah or Mary?
Well, the night Jesus was born, was a busy night . . . at least for Mary and Joseph and some nearby shepherds. As you probably know, shepherds were kind of second-class citizens of that time. But when angels appear, a great celebration in the sky takes place, and these second-class citizens received front row seats to a performance from Heaven. Then a challenge was made to the shepherds to go and see this new born Savior! Yes, they were told, that this child was their Savior. These lowly shepherds receive the news of a Savior before anyone else. After seeing Jesus, these shepherds, went about telling others about what they heard and saw.
We are not told how long Mary and Joseph had to live in the animal stable. Was it just that night or several days, we just don’t know. But what we do know is that Mary and Joseph lived according to the purification laws of their nation. Eight days after Jesus was born, he was circumcised and officially named. The mother and child were ceremonially unclean now for 33 days and then they must bring a sacrifice to the Temple for purification according to Leviticus 12:3-4:
3 And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying. She shall not touch anything holy, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed.
So forty days after Jesus is born, Mary and Joseph bring the sacrifice to the Temple for purification. This is when they meet Simeon and Anna. They were two old people. Okay, I guess would be nicer to say they were advanced in years. We know Anna was 84 and that Simeon thought he was getting close to death. They were just elderly people serving in the Temple. They were not priests or any kind of officials in the Temple. They were just serving there in their retirement.
Example of my Father
Let’s see what happens when Simeon and Anna meet Jesus.
Read Luke 2:21-38:
21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."
25 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. 26 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.
27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 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."
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."
36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 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.
Let’s look at this passage with an eye of understanding that we can learn something from these two-elderly people serving in the Temple. First, notice that they were:
Waiting for the Promise of God’s Salvation (vv. 25-26, 36-38)
I hope you don’t miss this about Simeon and Anna. Much like Zechariah and Mary, we find that these two elderly servants of God are looking for the Savior and expectantly awaiting the redemption God promised. They embody all that it means to be a pious Israelite. They evidently knew the Scriptures. They were living devoted to serving God in the capacity they were capable of. After all, they were elderly people. Simeon is called righteous and devout and Anna never left the Temple.
They were both prophets in their own way. Anna is called a prophetess and Simeon’s song is certainly prophesy. This means they not only knew the Word of God and its prophecies, but they had understanding of what God was saying through what the Holy Spirit revealed to them, according to verse 26.
But both Simeon and Anna were filled with expectancy. Not only did they know the Word, believe the Word, live in light of the Word, they were expectant of the promises of the Word. According to verses 25 and 28, Simeon and Anna were both waiting for what God said would happen. This doesn’t mean they were doing nothing, rather that all they were doing was in the expectation of a Savior.
Simeon and Anna believed in the coming of the Messiah. They expected Him at any moment and because they were expectant, I believe verse 38 indicates that many others with whom they had influence lived in expectancy also. This was not true for the nation as a whole, but for those who Simeon and Anna had connections with, there was expectancy of this Savior.
Do we live like this? Are we daily in the Word? Do we read His promises of rapture and 2nd coming with expectancy? Does the way we live our lives testify of our belief in His promise. Do we serve the Lord with our lives? Do we believe His Word and are others influenced to be expectant also because of our expectancy? Are you looking for the signs of His coming?
Example of studying the book of Revelation.
We should believe, live, and profess to others our expectancy of His coming, just as Simeon and Anna were waiting for God’s Salvation. Unfortunately, lives like Simeon and Anna are not in vogue today. But people who are devoted to the Lord live in expectancy. Look at what happens when God does reveal to Simeon and Anna the person they were waiting for in verses 27-33:
Revelation of the Person of God’s Salvation (vv. 27-33)
When he sees Jesus, Simeon blesses God in verse 28 and breaks out in his song of praise in verses 29-32. Anna gives thanks to God in verse 38 and begins telling everyone about it. Their reaction tells me something about how they lived and what they believed. They were ready for the Messiah, they were hopeful to see the Messiah, and they praised God when it was evident that they were seeing the Messiah in the arms of Mary.
Let’s read Simeon’s praise song again. Imagine Simeon’s trembling arms holding up baby Jesus in the air and Simeon proclaiming these words to God the Father.
~ Simeon’s Song (vv. 29-32)
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."
Simeon makes it clear in his song of praise that he is not seeing only a part of God’s salvation, he is seeing everything that is needed for salvation in the form of this infant child. Jesus is totally sufficient, and He is all anyone needs to be saved. Keep in mind, Simeon is looking a baby when he says this. But he knew, Simeon knew, that this baby boy was salvation.
Not just salvation for Israel, No, Simeon knew this salvation was not merely some kind of deliverance from the oppression of the Roman Empire upon the people of his nation. Look at what he said. This salvation is prepared in the presence of all people and will be a light of revelation to the Gentiles. Whoa! Did you hear that? So many in the nation of Israel were looking for salvation in the means of overthrowing the Roman oppression. Simeon understood . . . from Scripture that salvation was not only for Israel, but for the Romans . . . and every person on the globe.
What a song of praise. Salvation for all people through this infant born to Mary. I have no doubt that Simeon was holding on tightly to Jesus as he held him in his arms. The revelation of the Messiah, the Redeemer, and the Savior of mankind must have excited every nerve in his body. His heart was overflowing with joy and excitement, so much so . . . I have no doubt you would have seen this old man doing things in excitement he had not done in years. This was not only the fulfillment of God’s promise to all people, but it was the fulfilment of a personal promise made to Simeon that he would not die before seeing this Savior. Wow, what a special revelation for Simeon.
We are told that Joseph and Mary marveled at Simeon in verse 33. Think about this! Did they marvel because they did not know about the things he was saying? No! They knew all this through what God told them by the angelic messengers. They marveled because Simeon was saying everything that they had already been told by the angels; things they already knew in their hearts. What a glorious confirmation to Mary and Joseph.
Can you imagine conversations between Mary and Joseph from the time of her conception even up until now? I am sure they compared their visitations from the angels and what they were told individually about this pregnancy.
What did your angel say about his name?
What did your angel say He would do?
Even after Jesus was born, the continual conversations about what Jesus would do, what would happen to Him, how to raise Him, and on and on. The point is, Mary and Joseph were confirmed in what they knew about Jesus, so they did not marvel at new information from Simeon, but they marveled that God revealed this to someone they did not know, someone they may have just met for the first time, someone who didn’t know their baby, and yet this man, Simeon, walks up and identifies their son, Jesus, as the promised Savior.
Notice what Simeon does next in verses 34-35. He begins to
Prophecy concerning the Difficulty of God’s Salvation (vv. 34-35)
Simeon turns to Mary and Joseph and addresses them directly. These words are for all of us, though Mary will experience some of what he prophesies herself. Let’s read those two verses again:
34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."
Mary knows that her child is a blessing from the Lord and we even heard that she knows people will call her blessed from her praise song we discussed last week. But here, Simeon makes it clear that not only will Mary experience blessing, but she will experience great sorrow also. Her sorrow will be so difficult that it will be like a sword piercing through her soul. The most honored woman of all time will know great pain. We know what happened to Jesus on the cross of Calvary and to think Mary saw her Son go through all of that . . . certainly fulfills Simeon’s prophesy.
Simeon tells us that the rise and fall of many will be conditioned on what they believe about this Child. Believe in Him and rise to a new life in Christ, Oppose Him and fall to an eternal destiny separated from Him. Jesus and the sign of His salvation will be opposed; it will be opposed to such an extent that it will result in His death, bringing the piercing sorrow Simeon foretells about. But through all of this, there will be a revealing of the spiritual condition of the heart of people.
It is not about how religious you are, how many good works you do, or even how you live your life. It becomes about what you believe in your heart. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus becomes a revealer of the heart. How you respond to the revelation of what He has done for us reveals your heart condition. You will either be opposed to Him or you will rise to a new life with Him.
God’s Word is the revelation of the message Simeon is talking about. How people receive the message of God’s Word is a revealer of the heart.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Simeon’s Song of Salvation is powerful, isn’t it? Many things are applicable to us.
~ Do we live in expectancy of His promises?
~ Do we live and breathe the promises of God?
~ Do we see the glimmers of His coming?
~ Do we live with a heart overflowing with praise?
But most importantly
~ Do know Jesus, our Savior?
~ Have you responded to this message of salvation with opposition or acceptance?
~ Jesus was born to be your Savior, have you ever come to faith in Him and begun a new life with Him?