Christmas I — 12-30-2012
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the second chapter (Luke 2:22-40).
Beloved in the LORD,
How did Simeon know? Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple of God to do for Him as was commanded in the Law of Moses. All the firstborn, all those who open the womb, whether man of beast must be redeemed either with a lamb or two pigeons or turtledoves. So how did Simeon know? The Holy family was not the only family in the temple. It was a busy place; Jew and Gentile believers bustling about each in their respective courts. Money changers were all around exchanging Roman coin for Temple coin with a surcharge and interest of course. Lambs were for sale, pigeons and goats and oxen as well. So, with all that going on, how did he know? The baby wasn’t the only baby. He wasn’t clothed in purple linens but wrapped in the usual swaddling clothes. He wasn’t rich – His parents sacrificed two turtledoves not a lamb. The Shepherds weren’t there to point Him out. The Angels were gone back to heaven. No one in Bethlehem cared. The priests in Jerusalem were ignorant. The Star was yet to shine over their house, the Magi were yet to visit. Simeon shouldn’t know, but he does. He shouldn’t see, but he sees. He shouldn’t even be there, but he’s there in the Spirit of God. How does he know what Mary and Joseph don’t even know yet? How does He know that the Lord’s Christ will come to the temple in this year, on this day, at this hour for this reason!
He shouldn’t know. But He does. And seeing the baby, without the proper introductions or greetings he takes up the baby into his arms and begins to pray and to preach and to prophesy. “Lord now you let your servant depart in peace for mine eyes have seen your salvation.” And, “this child shall be the rising and falling of many in Israel, and a sword shall pierce your own soul as well.” How does he know all that?
Well, how do you know where to find Jesus? The answer is the same. And so is the problem. The problem is that in our falleness we want to look for Jesus everywhere except where He’s promised to be. Why would anyone look for the Messiah and Savior of the World wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying a manger? Messiahs and saviors are strong and mighty, and full of valor. They are adults – not babies. They are smart and well dressed and of high status. They’re of good stock, royal heritage, honored lineage. They have what the politicians call “gravitas”; that charismatic character that exudes leadership and makes people want to follow them even into death. Muhammad fit that bill quite well when he arrived on the scene, nearly 600 years after Jesus. Back then he was quite the community organizer in Medina.
Whether its Muhammad or Joel Osteen or the slick and shiny programs of the congregation down the street or the back room deals wrought by Chicago politics in Washington D.C., our fallen nature gravitates towards power not weakness, comfort not suffering, money not poverty, adults not babies. We are drawn to everything that this baby in our text is not. And we’re left wondering, “How do I know for sure?” I’m still going to die, nothing can prevent that. Am I going to die in peace?” Without certainty there is no peace. And there is no certainty with man, or power, or wealth, or glory. All fail to deliver – as you well know from experience.
So how did Simeon know? How do I know? How do you know? The answer is the same for all people, both Jew and Gentile, young and old, adults and babies, for Simeon, me, and for you. The answer is the Word. Simeon had and held firm God’s Word. “It had been revealed to Him by the Holy Spirit that He would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” With God’s Word he could see, he could take up in his arms, he could pray, and preach, and prophesy. With God’s Word he could receive God’s salvation, God’s Savior, God’s Son!
Simeon could be sure and certain that this babe, this child of Mary, this little one wrapped in swaddling clothes is God’s Messiah! He is the cause of the rising and falling of many in Israel! He is the crux of salvation, the bearer of God’s promises, the manifestor of God’s heart, the revealer of Gods’ grace, the voice of God’s gospel, the arm of God’s redemption, the firstborn of Mary who is to be the firstborn from the dead!
This babe is unlike the world’s expectations. He has surrendered His riches and become poor. He has set aside His glory and humbled Himself. He has chosen a pious virgin of David’s lineage to bear Him. Out of Bethlehem Ephratha, though least among the clans of Judah, He has come. He is without army, without disciples, without “gravitas” in the worldly sense. There is nothing about Him that should draw our attention. He is a baby. And babies are nothing special to the world, but babies are most dear in God’s plan of salvation. For this Baby is God in the flesh. He bears our nature though without sin. He takes our sin and carries them to the cross. Everything rises and falls on Him. He is the crux of our salvation, the one whose very presence in the world changes everything most especially those who take Him up into their arms.
Jesus, through His weakness; His passionate suffering and death, is more certain than all the powers of the world. Through His death and resurrection I have the forgiveness of sin. I have forgiveness through His Word and Promises. And haivng God’s Word and Promises I have certainty. And when I have certainty I have peace.
Therefore dear Christian held firm the Word of God! Though you be tested through trial and tribulation today, tomorrow and in the year to come, hold firm the Word of God.
Whether the sins of your youth haunt you or the frailty of your flesh afflict you hold firm the Word of God.
Storms may rage around you, hold firm the Word of God.
Death may encompass you, hold firm the Word of God.
Sin and suffering may beat against you, hold firm the Word of God. In the Word you have certainty of God’s salvation. You have the Word made flesh, the babe of Bethlehem, the Son of Mary and the Son of God. You have everything God has promised. And having everything God has promised means that you are safe and secure in His care, in His love, in His Son.
Beloved in the Lord, look at old Simeon. See how boldly he takes up the Christ child? You have Jesus nearer than he did. You have Him in the bread and the wine. Simeon could only cradle Him. You can taste His goodness. Simeon could only kiss His forehead. You can eat and drink His body and His blood. Simeon could only hold His swaddled body for a moment. This morning the resurrected Christ places Himself within you for eternity. Thus, Simeon’s song is a great hymn of prayer and praise to our God. It is one we too sing. For we who have eaten have beheld the Lord’s Salvation. We have taken Him unto our hearts and feasted upon His sure and certain Word made flesh. Therefore rejoice dear Christian. Rejoice, give thanks and sing with Simeon, and all the saints. There is peace on earth, peace with this tiny child! How do you know? You have His Word. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
Pastor Tony Sikora
Hope Lutheran Church
De Witt, MI