"The Consolation of Israel"
Today we will hear what an old man says concerning the baby Jesus. His statement speak of something far greater than just a baby's birth.
The Consolation of Israel
A. Christmas time is filled with misconceptions. The first thing we probably have wrong is the date itself. Very likely Jesus was not born on Dec. 25th. Then we mess up the manger scene. For us, it is a place that has been cleaned up, fresh straw, cattle quietly lowing and a sheep watching that looks like they were just bathed. Most likely, the place where Jesus was placed smelled horrible, the animals was anything but hygienic and I doubt there was some halo glowing.
B. In many nativity scenes we have the coming of three wise men from the east, but from a biblical perspective, those men, how many we don’t know, did not come for about a year after the birth of Jesus and by that time Jesus was in some type of rented home or a home of a relative of Joseph. Well, Christmas cards were never intended to be a strict biblical account of the birth of Jesus.
C. I still like the little nativity scenes in people’s homes. I like to see the decorated villages and other things that remind me of how important it is to thank God for the savior who came into the world as a light shining in a dark place. But there are almost always two figurines that are never seen on Christmas cards. I understand because they don’t belong in Bethlehem, they are a part of the baby Jesus’ first trip to Jerusalem. I would like to take you back to that first trip and introduce you to two very special people who help us to see the importance of recognizing the coming of Jesus into the world.
I. In The Beginning
A. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In verse 14, John continues by saying, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
B. Luke records the events of the birth itself and what take place soon after. Luke tells us about Mary’s feelings as an angel announces to her that she will be the mother of the Son of the Most High and how this child will have a throne of David and reign over a kingdom that would never end. It is Luke that tells us about the visit between Mary and Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Luke tells us about decree that a census was to be taken and how Joseph and Mary were required to go to Bethlehem. It is Luke who tells us about the birth in the stable, the announcement from heaven to the shepherds in the area and how all these things Mary treasured in her heart. And it is to Luke that we turn to read about Jesus coming to the temple about 40 days old.
C. Read Luke 2:21-24. After his circumcision and his naming, the Bible tells us that Joseph and Mary waited for the purification time to cease according the Law of Moses. That time line was about a total of 40 days for the birth of a boy. Jesus is a firstborn son, and therefore, under the Law Joseph was required to redeem his son back. It had been done since the days of the Exodus. Isn’t it ironic that Joseph goes to redeem his son who is the Redeemer of the world? You can imagine Joseph and Mary walking through Jerusalem with their baby boy. It was here in Jerusalem, when Jesus was just 40 days old, that we meet up with a man that is often overlooked in the telling of the birth of Jesus.
A. Read verse 25-27. Here is a man that Bible calls righteous and devout, but the lesson I want us to learn from these verses is found the phrase, “He was waiting for the consolation of Israel.” You see Simeon was not just waiting around by accident. This word “waiting” is the idea of “expectation, longing to receive.” But what was it that Simeon was waiting on? The Bible says it was the “consolation of Israel.” The idea is that he was waiting for the time when Israel would find comfort from God and be redeemed. It would take you to passages like Is. 40:1-2. Simeon was “looking” for God’s comfort – salvation.
B. Simeon was looking for and expecting the Redeemer. What are you expecting and looking for this Christmas? Is it presents under a tree? Are you looking for family members to come home and sit at the table and reminisce about days gone by? Or are you looking for the one who saves the people from their sins? We get so wrapped up in the baby Jesus, that we forget the purpose for his coming. Simeon waited in hope to see the day when God would send the redeemer, but brethren, we are living in the days of redemption.
C. Listen to Simeon’s song (Luke 2:28-32). The price for our sins has been paid for by the one who came to earth, was born in a manger, died on a cross, rose up from the dead and is now at the right hand of the throne of God making intercession for you and me. Brethren it is time we start looking for Jesus to come into our lives.
D. Simeon could die in peace for his eyes had seen God’s salvation; a salvation that would be light to Gentiles and Jews. Today, you could have the same peace that comes from having salvation come into your life by accepting Jesus as Lord in humble repentance and connecting to his blood in waters of baptism.
A. Let us be careful this holiday season to look beyond the Christmas lights to see “The light” who is the revelation to the Gentiles and the glory for the people of Israel.
B. Read Luke 2:33-35. It was a strange blessing as far as blessings go. This child would bring about the rising and falling of people. This baby would grow up and become the consolation of Israel – the comforter, the prince of peace. Yet, he ended by saying that the life of this child would pierce the soul of Mary.
C. My prayer is that God’s message, in the form of Jesus, pricks your heart so that you turn to him for salvation. The story of Jesus is the story of comfort and redemption. My you find that redemption in him today.