Simeon’s Song – What Do You See in Jesus?

Luke 2:22-32

You will always find what you are looking for.  Your parents probably told you when you were young, “if you go looking for trouble, it will be sure to find you.”  The principle at work is a spiritual one, “your actions will be directed toward the thing you desire most.”

I know a lady loves antiques.  Rest assured, she always finds a hidden antique store wherever she goes.

As a youth pastor, I vividly remember this principle at work with teens who were eager to find trouble.  At every activity, within minuets of their arrival, the teens looking for trouble would find that one other teen who was also looking for trouble.  If there was one teen out of hundreds with liquor, drugs, or just a bad attitude, trouble finds trouble.  It was as if they had radar and could filter through a crowd to find the one other person with a desire for trouble.

When a couple is in conflict, you find what you are looking for.  If you are looking to find fault with your wife, you will find it!  If you are looking to find fault with another church member, you will find it.  If you are convinced that someone or a some group of people are snobish, or rude, or greedy, or whatever, you will find examples to support your prejudice.

In counseling people, I like to call this the “Yellow Volkswagon Syndrome.”  When I was twelve, my older sister bought a yellow VW beatle.  I thought that car was pretty cool.  As soon as she got it, I began to notice all the yellow VW’s driving around town.  In truth, there was only one more yellow VW than before – my sister’s.  But I was tuned in to look for yellow VW’s, and not surprisingly, I found what I was looking for.

You see, you will find what you are looking for.

Now my question to you today is, what are you looking for in Jesus?

Are you seeking the genuine Christ, or are you seeking a Christ of your own making.  Perhaps you are not seeking Christ at all.  It that is true, you may not know it, but you are seeking a god of your own making.

Today we will learn about an OLD MAN who lived his whole life looking for Christ.  That man is SIMEON and we will study his song in our series, “The Songs of Christmas.”

His story is found in Luke 2:22–32 (NIV84)

22

When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25

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.”

SIMEON found what his heart was looking for

HE was Looking for the MESSIAH of ISRAEL, and God allowed him this privilege

Background.

The background of this final song in our Christmas series is one of the events described by Luke that took place after the Savior’s birth.  Luke 2:22 says, “When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him tot he Lord” 

Two events took place during this visit to the Temple.  The first was Mary’s PURIFICATION, a sacrifice that was required by the Law before she could worship at the Temple.  Leviticus  12:2-8 describes the requirement for women to present an offering and a sacrifice for sin before she could worship again in the Temple.  This was to take place 40 days after the birth of a boy, and 80 days after the birth of a girl.  It is important to note that the couple present an offering of a pair of doves or two young pigeons.  Luke mentions this fact to remind Theophilus (and us) that Mary and Joseph were poor enough to present the offering allowed for the poor.  It also reminds us that Joseph and Mary were sinners.  A sinless Mary would not present this offering since one of the sacrificial birds was presented as a SIN OFFERING.  This fact alone unravels the false doctrine that Mary never sinned.

The second event was the PRESENTATION of Jesus as their firstborn, as described in Exodus 13:2.   At this time of ceremony in the Temple, Joseph and Mary meet TWO SPECIAL PEOPLE, Simeon and Anna.

Both are OLD

Both were LOOKING for the MESSIAH

Both represented the TRUE FAITH of OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS

Both represent how EVERY ISRAELITE should have responded to Jesus!

WE will focus on SIMEON and his SONG of PRAISE to GOD

Simeon Found What He Was Looking For!

The Key phrase is found in  “Luke 2:25, “he was waiting for the consolation of Israel”

Simeon Found what he was LOOKING for because his HEART was RIGHT.  All his life, he awaited the Messiah, and now God would grant him his heart’s desire.

What caused Simeon to have this godly desire?  Is it possible for us to learn something from Simeon so that our hearts desire the right things?  I believe that it is!

One reason that Simeon’s heart desired Christ was because he was “Righteous and Devout.”(Luke 2:25).  Luke describes Zecharias and Elizabeth in the same way (Luke 1:6) as well as Joseph of Aramathea (Luke 23:50-51).

RIGHTEOUS emphasizes that his actions toward others

DEVOUT emphasizes that his worship toward God

This was a concise way of saying that Simeon was a godly man in every way.  A Similar phrase is used of Job, Job 1:1 “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.”  Job was blameless (he feared God) and upright (he acted right toward others).  Paul also gives the same testimony in Acts 24:16 “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

We might ask, Which comes first, godly desires, or godly actions?  Does good behavior create within our hearts the right desires, or does having the right desire create godly behavior? They are INTERRELATED.  Either one will result in the other.  This is good news for us, because we can know that whenever we make a move toward God, he helps complete the process!  We need not worry about deep technical details.  God simply wants to see that we put him first, in our actions and in our attitude.

SO….

SET YOUR HEART on what GOD DESIRES!

Your prayers will be answered.  1 John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

God will NEVER turn you away!   Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Psalm 119:2 “Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.”

Luke 11:9–10 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

 

The importance of having the right desires is illustrated in the Christmas film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”   This film contains a powerful theme of REDEMPTION.  Hollywood could not come up with a film like this today!

If you remember the story, George’s life is falling apart because he DESIRES fame and fortune.  An ENCOUNTER from GOD (in the form of a quirky angel named “Clarence”) reveals that his DESIRES need to change.  He finds TRUE JOY when his DESIRES CHANGE!  When he recognizes that the most important thing in life is his integrity and the generosity he shows to others, he finds true joy!

A second lesson we find from Simeon is that he Found what he Was Looking for Because he BELIEVED GOD’S WORD.

This is revealed in the key phrase, “He was waiting for the Consolation of Israel”

“Consolation” is the same word as “Comforter”   ðáñÜêëçóéò

This phrase, “Comforter of Israel” was another term for MESSIAH.  It was used extensively in Isaiah to remind Israel that their Messiah would come.  Follow the usage in the following passages in the Messianic section of Isaiah.

Isaiah 40:1–2  “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

Isaiah 42:1–4 “”Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.”

Isaiah 49:13 “Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.”

Isaiah 52:9 “Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.”

Simeon developed his godly desires because he knew and believed God’s Word.  We can follow Simeon’s example today by studying, believing and acting on the promises of God.  When we take Him at his Word, we fill our hearts with the right thinking and this will lead us to the right actions.

So we have seen that Simeon was Looking for the True Messiah, waiting as a godly man who believed God’s word.  And God granted him the privilege of holding the baby Jesus in his arms!

Simeon was Satisfied when he found what he was looking for.

When we live according to the flesh, God will allow us to receive what we are asking for.  If we live for wealth, we will become consumed by money and its desires.

If we live for pleasure, we will become consumed by the pursuit of more and more pleasure.  But know this, you will never be satisfied!  You will only end up wanting more.  Like an addict on drugs, you will live for the next fix, and when it comes, you will only crave more!  Satan NEVER leaves you satisfied because he is not seeking to bless you, but to enslave you!

When Simeon received what he longed for, he was completely satisfied!

Luke 2:29 “Now Lord, as you have promised, Now dismiss your servant in peace”

This was another way of saying, “Lord, now I can die in peace.”

HE waited ALL his LIFE to see the Messiah.

Simeon reached the end of his life FULLY SATISFIED!

When we are looking for things to fulfill our flesh, we are never satisfied!

We need to be looking for JESUS!  Paul describes this kind of life in 2 Timothy 4:8 “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

Encountering Jesus Always Produces a Response.

Although we are not told that Simeon was a prophet, God uses him to utter important prophetic truths.  Luke 2:34 “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel…”

Simeon was a godly man with the right desires, and God blessed him for those desires.  But he warns about many others who were not looking for the Messiah, or who were looking for a Messiah of their own making.  Simeon tells Mary and Joseph that their son would cause a dividing in Israel.  As Isaiah warned, the Messiah would bring salvation to some, and judgment to others.  Isaiah 8:14 “and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.”

A.T. Robertson wrote about this passage, “And many will speak against him, and in speaking against him, the hidden thoughts of the heart will be revealed….” Jesus is the magnet of the ages. He draws some, he repels others.” A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), Lk 2:34.

Simeon was drawn to Christ because he was looking for God’s Messiah.  But those who seek their own gods will fight against Christ.  They will contend and do all that they can to make life miserable for those who love God’s Christ.  That is, until they ultimately are confronted with the One whom they have opposed.

Lessons from an Old Man Who was Looking for Jesus

LESSON 1.  God will allow you to possess what you desire.

It might not come in the form that you want

If it is ANYTHING OTHER THAN GOD, It will not satisfy once you have it.

LESSON 2.  The most significant Thing you do in life might still be ahead of you!

LESSON 3.  Jesus stirs a response, every time we encounter him!

LESSON 4.  Seek the LORD!  Isaiah 55:6–7 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. ” “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

Conclusion: In 1996 Oklahoma State University’s quarterback was President Lyndon Johnson’s nephew, Randy Johnson. He proved to be a mediocre quarterback for a mediocre team. But mediocre or not, he and his teammates could be lifted to legendary greatness if they managed to beat their arch rival, the University of Oklahoma, in the season-ending game. In that final game of 1996 Oklahoma State trailed late by six points. Little hope remained that they would score with almost 80 yards between them and their goal line, with only minutes left on the clock, and in a steady downpour of rain. But their mud-covered suits didn’t look half as pitiful as the battered, despairing faces of the State players. As a gesture of goodwill, the Oklahoma State coach put in all the seniors for the last play of the game, and told Randy to call whatever play he wanted. The team huddled, and to the surprise of his teammates, Randy called play 13- a trick play they’d never used, for the good reason that it had never worked in practice. Well, the impossible happened! Play 13 worked! Oklahoma State scored! Randy Johnson’s team won the game by one point! The fans went wild! As they carried Randy, the hero of the game, off the field, his coach called out to him, “Why in the world did you ever call play 13?” “Well, we were in the huddle,” Randy answered, “and I looked over and saw old Harry with tears running down his cheeks. It was his last college game and we were losing. And I saw that big 8 on his chest. Then I look over and saw Ralph. And tears were running down his cheeks, too. And I saw that big 7 on his jersey. So in honor of those two heartbroken seniors, I added eight and seven together and called play 13!” “But Randy,” the coach shouted back. “Eight and seven don’t add up to 13!” Randy reflected for a moment and answered back, “You’re right, coach! And if I’d been as smart as you are, we would have lost the game!”

From Following Jesus without Embarrassing God, Tony Campolo, Word Publishers, 1997.

LESSON 5: You don’t have to be SMART to be a child of God, you just have to BELIEVE!

Call on Jesus today.  Set your heart on the Christ of God.