Jack Graham - Christmas Day
Take your Bibles and turn to Luke's Gospel, the second chapter. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. We know who the child is, the Son of Mary and the Son of God. In humanity the Son of man, the Son of Mary; in deity the Son of God the Savior of the world. That's who He is! And we worship Him today. Mary and Joseph must have taken the Christ Child back to their hometown of Nazareth. And then exactly 120 days later Mary and Joseph took the long trip to Jerusalem where, according to the customs of the Jews and the Jewish faith, they brought the Christ Child for the purification rites, and they brought an offering to the Lord.
In fact, we're told in chapter 2 that they brought young pigeons and a pair of turtledoves. That's remarkable in the sense that we know Mary and Joseph were a young couple just getting started. He was a carpenter. They didn't have much money, hardly, hardly any at all, or much to bring to the Lord; not cattle, not even a lamb, but as peasants would bring, two birds. Young pigeons, and then two turtledoves that they brought to the Lord. But they were faithful in their faith and in the stewardship of the Savior who had come into their lives.
And while they were there in Jerusalem at the temple, as they walked in there was an old man by the name of Simeon. And when Simeon saw the Lord, when he saw Mary and Joseph with the Christ Child in their arms, he knew that this was the moment for which he had been born; the moment that he had been praying for all of his life. Because God had given him a promise. God had given him the promise of a Savior-Messiah and God gave him a secret. God said to Simeon that "you will not die until you see the Messiah, the Savior". As long as you live keep praying, keep believing, keep expecting because one day you will see the Messiah. And that moment, that miracle has now come.
Verse 25 says: "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. 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. 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, he took him up in his arms and (praised God) he blessed God and said, (And here is Simeon's song) 'Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.' And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 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 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.'"
Simeon had a great testimony. As an older man living for the Lord, watching, waiting, expecting, he never gave up hope. He believed; he kept believing his entire life until this moment, this miracle came. Let me just say whatever your age or stage or season in life is today be you young or old, live with this expectant hope that the Christ who has come the first time is coming again! Because as surely as it was prophesied that Jesus was arriving in Bethlehem, born, and lived to die on a cross, and rise again, it had also been prophesied that this same Jesus, Jesus Himself will come again! This time not as a Baby, but as King of kings and Lord of lords! And so in one sense we're living in our era, in our generation like Simeon in expectation of the return of Christ. The second advent of Christ!
Never stop leaning into that truth and looking forward to the return of Christ. Whatever your age live believing God's promises, and relying on God's faithfulness in your life. And if you're older today like Simeon, you know they say the sixties is the new forties! I don't know. But if you're a little older today, and you're wondering if life is passing you by, let me remind you that none of us should resent getting older like Simeon, as long as we're looking and living for the Lord. Because, frankly, some people don't live long enough to get older. We're all blessed to be here! And every step we take in this journey of life is a step closer to home. We're on our way. We're making our journey home. And so we don't resent getting older, but we rejoice in the way that God has given us because the best is yet. No matter what happened in this life we know that Jesus is coming!
And as you get older it's an opportunity to welcome the future, and to know that Christ is coming soon, or He may be coming to take you home. But let me remind you, like Simeon, he had a purpose. He was a servant of God and he kept serving God. And if you're breathing God still has a plan or a purpose for your life. Amen? And one of those purposes is that the generations that come behind us are looking to us to lead them forward. Mary and Joseph, even Mary and Joseph when they saw this godly gentleman Simeon and heard his prophecy and his praise before God, when they saw that, they wondered, they marveled, they were encouraged in their own lives, in their own faith that they're now the parents of the Lord Jesus. What about this man? He was a righteous man we're told. A just man, a righteous man.
And really that tells me that he is a saved man. You say, "How so"? Just as we are saved in looking back to the coming of Christ, Simeon like Old Testament saints and Old Testament believers was saved by looking forward to the coming of Christ. But it all centers in Christ, whether you're looking backwards or whether you're looking forwards. It is all about Jesus. And what a picture of salvation this really is! As Simeon embraces this baby. He literally takes the Christ Child, (what a privilege) into his arms and holds Him, and receives Him. He believed in a Baby.
Now we have the advantage of knowing the whole story, don't we? We have the Gospel! We have the grace of God! We have the story. He just had part of the story and yet by faith he embraces the Lord Jesus. He says, "Mine eyes have seen your salvation". That's a picture of what it means to personally respond and receive Jesus into your life, to be saved. He was righteous, not because of anything that he had done, but because what Christ would do for him. And he knew this secret, he experiences this salvation in his life. Remember, we are made righteous by the righteousness of Christ! In the Christian life salvation is Jesus plus nothing, it's Christ plus nothing equals everything! And therefore we are saved. Are you saved? He was a righteous man. He was also a devout man. It says, "he was righteous and devout".
Now that's a word we don't use much today. I can't even remember last time I heard someone described as a devout person. Maybe that's a word we ought to bring back, because that's a great word. Devout means devoted, of course, and this is a man who was devoted to God. He was honoring God and served Him in the temple. And as a servant of God he was surrendered to the Lord. So not only was he saved, but he was surrendered; he was devout, consecrated; a believer, an obedient believer. How? Because he was watching as we noted earlier in our reading, he was watching and waiting for the coming of the Christ. He was expectant and living with this constant expectancy, because he knew that God had made a promise and with that promise he determined to live for his God.
The Bible says "He that has this hope in him, the hope of Jesus Christ and His return, His second coming, purifies himself". This man was living a pure and holy life, and devout life because he understood that principle. And we ought to understand the same principle if we believe in Christ, and that Christ who came is coming again then this hope that wells up within us, it moves us and motivates us to live surrendered and sanctified lives. You say sanctified? How that's? He was a man full of the Holy Spirit. Anointed by the Holy Spirit. And God tells us in His word that we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The only way to live a consecrated life is to surrender your life to the Lord, all of it, every part of it, under the Lordship and authority of Christ, and as we are waiting for the return of Christ, to live for Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
And yet so many today in churches, in our own church are not living devout lives, pure and godly, holy lives. We're compromised at many levels. We're unsurrendered with our time; we're unsurrendered with our talents, our gifts, our skills. We should never be begged to give our tithes and offerings to the Lord. And I hope you don't ever hear us begging you. But if you are surrendered and full of God's Spirit there's no question about where your money will go, invested into the kingdom of God into the work of God's church, through His kingdom. So is your time, is your talent, is your temperament... Christ wants to change your personality. That's the"fruit of the Spirit" which is love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and self control and faithfulness. And the fruit of the Spirit, it's not nine fruits of the Spirit. It's called the fruit of the Spirit.
I say one fruit, nine luscious flavors. It's the fruit of the Spirit! It's as a result of the filling of the Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit, and we're all commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It means that our lives are guided, our lives are commanded by the Spirit of God. Are you a Spirit filled believer? Because every Christian is called, and yes, commanded to be full of the Holy Spirit. And when you are a believer and trusting in God, you have no problem giving your all, giving anything to the Lord, because it belongs to Him. So many today in churches are enduring religion instead of enjoying Jesus. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to envelop and to enjoy the presence of Christ in your life. Is Jesus real to you?
It is the work and the witness of the Holy Spirit to make Jesus real in your life. Can you say as it was said of Simeon that you are devout and filled with God's Spirit, controlled and living and walking with Him? Sometimes I'm asked, "How can I know the will of God? How can I do what God wants me to do"? It's very simple. If you will walk in the Spirit, if you will walk with Jesus, then where He goes you will go. And if you go where Jesus goes, you'll be in His will. Just walk with Jesus. Live in His Spirit. That's what Simeon was doing. He was a saved man, and therefore, God, because he was saved and spirit-filled, God gave him a secret that he said, "You will not die", that's verse 26, "You will not die until you first see the Lord face to face".
Love this about Simeon! You know what his name means? Simeon means the hearing one, or the one who hears, the one who listens. He listened to God. He listened to the Holy Spirit. He listened to the Scriptures. And so when God chose to give him this secret, this open secret that the Messiah was coming. But this personal secret to him that you will live long enough to see it. He believed it. You listen to God like that? Because I promise you if you're a believer and you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, which every believer is that God is speaking to you. The question is are you listening? "He who has ears to hear, let him hear". Because by His Spirit and by His word God is always speaking to us. I challenge you: the most important spiritual discipline of your life is to take time daily to hear from God in His word and in prayer.
And, of course, prayer, you've heard it many times, is not just talking, it's listening. Simeon was living fully to the end of his life excited, enthusiastic, full of faith, full of God because he was listening to God. And so when the moment came, when the miracle happened and he's holding the Messiah in his hand he said, "Praise God, I can go home in peace now. This is what I've been waiting for. I'm ready to die now because Jesus has come into my life". You're only ready to die when you're ready to live. And you're ready to live by embracing and saying what Simeon said, "Mine eyes have seen your salvation".
The greatest day of your life, Christian, is the day you step from this life into the life that is to come. Your first day in heaven will be the greatest day of your life. We think of it as a bad day when we die, but as believers "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". This man had peace with God and he was ready to go. The Apostle Paul experienced the same thing. He said, "To live is Christ, to die is gain". He said, "I'm now ready to be poured out like an offering before the Lord. The mission has been accomplished". 2 Timothy 4:7, "I've finished the course". It is critical that you prepare to die; that you prepare for eternity! None of us are promised a long life like Simeon. But we can live a full life and a forever life. You're not promised a long life or even another day, but if you will live for Jesus, if you will embrace Him and receive Him, then you will live forever with Him. He said, "My eyes have seen your salvation".
Jesus was his Savior. He's the Christ of salvation. He's the only Savior, the Savior to both the Jews and the Gentiles, as noted in the Scripture. If you are Jewish, we're not asking you to convert to our Gentile religion. As a matter of fact, we have converted to your faith, the faith in the Messiah, Yeshua who has come for all! To both Jews and Gentiles. "And we're not ashamed of this Gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek". He speaks of Christ not only His salvation but he speaks of His suffering. He speaks of this sword. What a thought, when Mary is standing there, and Joseph, and he starts speaking about this Christ who will cause division, "the rise and fall of people".
Christ is the Christ of destiny and He's the Christ of decision and the Christ of division! This Baby changed the world; His cradle rocked the world! And it has brought about the change of history: BC and AD. It has brought about the change of life, a dividing of humanities: saved or lost! Here's the point: When it comes to Jesus and this sword that Simeon talks about, the rise and fall of many: you can't be neutral about Jesus! It's yes or no! Believe or unbelief! It's receive Him or reject Him! Not everyone believes in Christmas. We read a lot today, of course, about the battle over Christmas, and there is one, but it's really a battle not over Christmas; it's a battle about Christ; who He is.
And if you preach Christ, who is "the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by Him", if you preach of this supernatural Savior who was born of a virgin and died a vicarious death on the cross and rose again, literally, physically on the third day, you preach that, you teach that, and I promise you there will be a division because not everyone's going to believe it and not everyone's going to receive Christ. Christ is divisive. There's hatred for Him. You know if we preach a soft and sentimental Christ no one will say much. But if you preach and teach the Christ of the Bible and Gospel as it is taught in the Scriptures there will be resistance and maybe persecution. We are seeing that in the world. And Jesus is God's catalyst that separates humanity, saved and lost. Some hear the Gospel and verse 35 says: "the thoughts from many hearts will be revealed".
How you respond to Jesus reveals your heart! I don't understand why one person can hear the message of Jesus Christ and God's love and grace and power to forgive, and receive it, respond to it and say, "Yes, I'll follow Jesus"! And on the other hand there are others who hear the same message in the same service at the same time and reject it. You see this message reveals your heart. What about your heart? Will it be your rise into His presence or your fall into an endless, hopeless eternity without Him? Are you ready for the arrival of Jesus, Christmas phase 2 when He comes again? Are you saved? Are you surrendered to the Lord? Devout and righteous and walking in the Spirit? Are you a man, a woman of faith no matter your age and your stage in life who is living and looking forward to that glorious day, our first Christmas in heaven? Christmas happened and then Easter happened, and it's all about Jesus.