Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed (Lk 2: 34).
The Gospel reading for today points us to the purpose for living, to rise or to fall (Lk 2:22-40). Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple to be dedicated to God. At the Temple, they met Simeon, led by the Holy Spirit acknowledged and told Mary and Joseph what their child would become. Simeon said, Jesus was a gift from God, he recognised him as the Messiah; and that Jesus would be the light to the entire world. Simeon was just, righteous, devout, dedicated to God, looking expectantly for the Consolation of Israel, the Messiah. With all these qualities, Simeon was yet to see the Saviour.
The question is, why would a devout, a good, and a righteous man need salvation? Salvation goes beyond religious dedication. There has only been on man who has ever walked the face of the earth that was not a sinner, His name is Jesus Christ. Therefore, Simeon needed salvation like you and I need salvation. The Bible is very clear that sin separates us from Holy God ‘since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Because all the rest of us sin, ‘all of us need a Saviour to offer us forgiveness and to make us right with God.’ There are many, even dedicated Simeons in each of us knowingly or unknowingly that might be taking solace in self-salvation especially in a culture that want to be free from God to find their own identity.
The story of the Prodigal son is a good of example and effort of seeking self-salvation – for hope, peace, joy and love. He demanded his inheritance from the father. Just as the father watched the son goes off for self-salvation, God is watching many of us today breaking away from God’s standard and leaving the Father’s influence. Today, the world is under powerful new ungodly influences, greedy politicians, fake news, misinformation, ‘new notions about the pleasure of sexual freedom and the joys’ hopes and loves of this world. Beloved, the world’s circumstances including the pandemic is slowing us down to where we need to actually take stocks of what we have found on the road to self-salvation and the need to return to God’s way of salvation.
Simeon did not take his dedication and position in the prophetic office as a means of his self-salvation, his hope, peace, and joy. Beloved, our waiting is not over until we see the Lord face to face. Our purpose in live is not fulfil until we encounter the Lord of Glory. Simeon realised that when he saw Jesus, he saw the Messiah, the Saviour, light of revelation to the Gentiles. Simeon in his faith confession agreed that Christ ‘in his arms was the Saviour, the salvation itself, the salvation of God’s appointing. He bids farewell to this world.’
Beloved, before you bid farewell to this poor world, you need salvation. The world is poor when you have Christ in your life. In Christ alone, you have everlasting hope, peace, joy, love and holiness, hence you can rejoice as Simeon rejoiced with trembling. Christmas is about salvation that calls us to surrender to God’s fathomless forgiveness and redeeming love. Christmas celebration must not be for your fall. You must not miss the essence of Jesus’s coming (Jn 3:16). Why must you continue to stay in the darkness of self-salvation, religion, pride, sin and unbelief? Christmas celebration must be for your rising from glory to glory with victory over the grave and the gift of eternal life. The question is, which group are you?
Let us prayerfully sing the hymn by Charles Wesley:
1 Come, O long-expected Jesus,
born to set your people free!
from our fears and sins release us,
Christ in whom our rest shall be.
2 Israel’s strength and consolation,
born salvation to impart;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
3 Born your people to deliver,
born a child, and yet a king;
born to reign in us for ever,
now your gracious kingdom bring:
4 By your own eternal Spirit
rule in our hearts alone;
by your all-sufficient merit
raise us to your glorious throne.