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 on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 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, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:25-32
If Christmas means anything, it means that God always keeps his promises. One of the first things God said to Adam and Eve after the fall was a promise that a redeemer would come. Now centuries later that promise is fulfilled in the birth of this baby.
Israel had been patiently waiting for their redeemer to come through good times and bad. Through kingdoms and exile. While oppressed by other nations, the latest of which is Rome. The promise remained that God had not forgotten his people. A redeemer would come.
Enter Simeon a devout follower of God. He longed for the day he would see that Deliverer come. And God had spoken to him through the Holy Spirit to affirm that he would indeed get to see that. How many years had he waited? We don’t really know, but the implication of the verse seems to be that Simeon at this time was an old man, and he had probably waited years.
Now one day you can imagine, Simeon is perhaps eating his breakfast and the Spirit speaks to him saying today is the day. Go to the temple. Simeon walks into the temple and sees Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus and he knows. This is it. My Savior is here.
Simeon says “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised…”
The promise that all of humanity has awaited since that fateful day in the garden, had finally arrived.
Not many promises we can count on
We live in a world that doesn’t often keep its promises. In the US we just lived through another cycle of elections, where politicians made many promises of what they would do if they were elected. Sadly, those political promises have all too often become the punch line of a joke as we have little confidence that they will be fulfilled.
But before we point fingers though, who among us has never broken a promise? We all have from time to time. Maybe we didn’t mean to. Maybe circumstances intervened and despite our best intentions, we failed to do what we had promised.
Someone we can count on
With God though we have a promise-maker that we know will always keep his promises.
I don’t know where this Christmas finds you. Perhaps life is good. Your family is healthy. Financially you are doing well and it is easy to praise God. But maybe you aren’t doing so well. Perhaps this Christmas a word like cancer is dominating your thoughts. Perhaps, you are one step away from bankruptcy. The tree has no presents under it this year and there will be no Christmas Day dinner. Or perhaps there are some empty chairs around that Christmas Day dinner that were filled this time last year and your heart is breaking.
If that is where you are remember the long awaited promises fulfilled by that baby in the manger.
Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. Joshua 23:14
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Psalm 37:25
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4
The interesting thing was the children of Israel were longing for a political Savior who would deliver them from the oppression of Rome. Though they had trouble seeing it at the time, the promise delivered was something so much greater.
- not to save the people from Rome, but to save us from our sins.
- not to create a kingdom on earth, but an eternal kingdom where we can live with him for ever.
- not to stop the oppression of Rome, but to end the oppression of sin and open the door to a place where he will forever wipe every tear from our eyes and heal every broken heart.
- not to walk among us, but to live in our hearts.
Christmas reminds us we serve a God who keeps his promises. A God who has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us. And a God that offers hope that there will come a day when the injustice of this world will be gone forever and we will live in a place where there is no more pain, no more fear, no more sickness, and no more death.
Have a Merry Christmas everyone!