Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Simeon's Song

Part 4 of The Original Christmas Playlist

Text: Luke 2:22-40

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation” (vv. 29-30). 

A Sword Will Pierce Your Heart

Mary proudly holds her newborn baby boy as she and her husband Joseph enter the temple court in Jerusalem. Forty days ago, she had given birth to her firstborn son. Today, they have made the short trip from Bethlehem to dedicate Jesus to the Lord. As Mary and Joseph make their way through the crowd, an elderly man spots them. His name is Simeon. God has revealed to Simeon that he will not die until he sees the Messiah. That day has come.

Simeon takes her baby in his arms and praises God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation” (vv. 29-30).

The old man’s words amaze Mary and Joseph. But Simeon isn’t finished. He looks at the boy’s mother and says, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed” (vv. 34-35a).

Then Simeon says something that Mary will never forget. “And a sword will pierce your very heart” (v. 35b).

About His Father's Business

Let’s fast forward about 33 years.

Now Mary understands Simeon’s prophecy. The little baby that she had once held in her arms is hanging on a cross. And her heart is pierced.

The sign above his head reads, “This is Jesus of Nazareth.” But Mary weeps as she thinks, “This is my son.”

She remembers kissing her boy’s forehead as she put him to bed. Now that forehead is marred by a crown of thorns. She remembers guiding his tiny hands and feet as he learned to walk. Now those hands and feet are nailed to a cross. She remembers rubbing his back to console her crying son. Now that back is bloodied and beaten.

As Mary surveys the heartbreaking scene, her mind goes back to a happier visit to Jerusalem. It was 22 years ago. Jesus was twelve. It was the first time Mary and Joseph had taken Jesus on their pilgrimage from Nazareth to observe the Passover. She recalls how excited Jesus was to see the temple. But most of all, she remembers the journey home. They had assumed Jesus was with the group traveling back to Nazareth, but when they looked for him, they couldn’t find him. In a panic, she and Joseph rushed back to Jerusalem. They finally found Him in the temple. “Son,” Mary scolded him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”

Jesus replied, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Mary didn’t understand what he meant. But as the years passed by, she began to realize that Jesus’ life would be shaped more by God’s will than her dreams.

Now as Mary stands beside her son’s cross, she wonders if Jesus is now finishing the final task of his Father’s business. But still, her heart is pierced.

God's Salvation

When Simeon looked at baby Jesus, he said to God, “My eyes have seen your salvation” (v. 30). Salvation from God would come to us through the death of Jesus. Mary didn’t know what would happen to Jesus, but God the Father did.

It’s one thing to watch your son die (as Mary did); it’s another thing to sacrifice your son (as the Father did). [1] In this we see the love of God for us. There is no greater gift that the gift of Jesus. There is no greater love than God’s love.

[1] But Jesus wasn't forced to die. He chose to give up his life for us.

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