Christ Is Coming 3: The Watchers Rejoice For Him
Today we celebrate the first coming of Christ into this world. When He came in the flesh on that night in Bethlehem, everything from then to now was sovereignly, and supernaturally altered. No other event in all of the great events of the world since creation changed the world as much as that night’s events. Such a powerful change did not happen without planning, without power or without prophecy. It also did not happen without people who were watchers waiting with hope to experience or to see the one who would not only begin the change, but would bring the change and be the change. Our sermon this morning is about the birth of Jesus but it is also about those faithful people who believe in the promises of Jehovah and watched for those promises to become reality.
Faithful Promise - Luke 2:1-14
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
God’s Plan in Prophecy
The Messiah Comes. God had promised His people, Israel, a Messiah (which means an anointed one, in Greek a Christ), he would also be their King from the bloodline of David. A King who would rule Israel and free His people. Nor was the promise given only once or twice, but in the Old Testament it was given in details over 300 times.
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
God’s plan didn’t stop at just written prophecy, nor did it stop at just the people of Israel. God, because He is God, wrote His sovereign plan in the events of history.
God’s Plan In History
When Jesus was born it was exactly the right time and place because God had prepared the world to be ready for Messiah to come. Israel at this time a nation that is in turmoil, balanced upon a precipice. Less than 200 years before this time, Israel had been a free and independent nation. Ruled by the Maccabees family after a bloody war against the Greek tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes. But now Israel is no longer free, it has submitted to the power of Rome. Rome has filled their nation with thousands of foreign, pagan soldiers. Taken their land for fortresses and even appointed an Edomite King, called Herod the Great to his face but Herod the cruel behind his back. They people were harshly taxed for the privilege of being Rome’s great Empire.
The talk and hope of the promised Messiah was everywhere during these harsh times. Secret organizations like the zealots were planning assassinations and a war for freedom. Finally, in 70 AD they got their war and it destroyed Israel. They lost their nation, their Temple and their hope of freedom. During these days, many false Messiahs had rose to prominence and some had raised hundreds of followers, who they led to their deaths.
Into this turbulent, dangerous time the real Messiah, Jesus was born as we read in Luke 2. This hated empire that ruled over them, ordered a registration, in order then to tax the nation, And God used this registration to move Jospeh and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem where He had promised the Messiah was to be born.
All of these events, nations and people, God was using according to His plan, moving them like pieces on a chess board, putting them in the right place at the right time. God used history, events, nations and kings to set the stage for His Son to come and show Himself as the Messiah.
God, because He is God, can and does use nations, kings, heroes, villains and unknown common people to do His will and carry out His plan for mankind. All these have been moved, controlled, influenced, directed or redirected by the Sovereign Creator to do as He pleases.
Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
Daniel 4:35 Nebuchadnezzar, “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
Quote – “Though all human acts are free in the sense of being self-determined, none are free from God’s control according to his eternal purpose and foreordination.” - J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 39.
And especially is God’s sovereignty and plan seen in His preparing the world for the coming of the Messiah.
God’s Plan In the Present
Nor has God quit working. He has not wound up the universe and left it to run down on its own. He is still working His plan through prophecy, history, nations and individual people, even people like you and me.
We will not have a place in that plan like Mary, Joseph or the leaders of the nations, but you would be foolish to think that God in his omnipotence and omniscience has not made plans for all his people, even the people of Calvary Baptist Church on a rainy Christmas Eve Day in 2023.
What did Jesus teach? Matthew 10:29–31 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Yes, He watches me and though I may not fully understand it, He also moves me. Just as he moved all those others when Jesus was born.
God was faithful keeping his promises and the couple that God chose to raise His son, were faithful in their obedience and walk with God. Look at vs. 21
Faithful Parents – Luke 2:21-24
21And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, (Joshua, Yeshua, which means Jehovah is salvation) which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Joseph, Mary Obey God’s Law
According to the Law, a male child born to a Jewish couple was sanctified, set apart to the Lord and that child had to be redeemed by an offering given at the Temple. So, after Jesus was circumcised at 8 days old, and after Mary’s time of purification was past they set out for Jerusalem about 7 miles south of Bethlehem.
According to the Law, a woman, after giving birth, was to be in seclusion for 30 days if she had a boy and for 80 days if she had a girl. (When you get to heaven you can ask God why 80 days for a girl.) The, after that time, she would sacrifice to at the Temple. This is what Mary was doing in Luke 2:22 and together she and Joseph would present Jesus before the Lord. Their offering was a pair of turtledoves or pigeons which the law said could be given if you could not afford a lamb.
This story in the life of Joseph and Mary is the only insight we have about the early life of Jesus. Luke is the only author of the Gospel accounts that tells us anything about the young child except for Matthew statement that after the visit of the Magi the fled to Egypt for safety. There are legends and fictitious stories about Jesus as a young child, but they are not just foolish they are dangerous and most turn him into a wizard or a Buddha like teacher. All we need to know about Jesus’ childhood is what we are told in this chapter. And what we are told is that they were a devout family that were faithful in following the Word of God and at that v52, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
Faithful Families Obey God
I just want to make one quick application here to the parents, You should be also stive to be like Mary and Joseph, faithful in the following God as a family. Love them, protect them, be an faithful example to them and never neglect to take them to the Lord’s house.
Paul says it pretty plainly in Ephesians 6:4 ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Genesis 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment...
God put Jesus into a faithful, God-fearing family, that was not an accident. Nor is it an accident that God has chosen you, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles to be the most important examples of faithfulness to young children in your family.
Take that responsibility joyfully and seriously. Pray the wisdom, strength and love to fulfill the most important task you have while on this earth.
Now let’s get to the two people who are at the heart of this message, Simeon and Anna. Two people of Faithful Patience and God blessed them for that faithfulness.
Faithful Patience - Luke 2:25-27
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Simeon and Anna’s Faithful Watch and Wait for God’s Promise
Simeon and Anna, like Zacharias and Elizabeth were God’s people who were faithful to God’s word and hopeful of God’s promises. They so fit the description that God gave to Malachi in Malachi 3:16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
I have to read you part of the next verse. Malachi 3:17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; What a beautiful promise, they shall be mine when I make up my jewels.
The faithful, expectant people, who were living at the end of the Old Testament, were those that God took note of. We read of them here, but there is a much bigger book in heaven, that is being written for all the faithful of all time, to be called Jehovah’s jewels one day.
Simeon and Anna, in a sense are representative of all the Old Testament saints who had lived their lives in faith and repentance looking for the One who would come and deliver them. In Simeon and Anna, we can see and hear all who waited and watched throughout the centuries.
Simeon, whose name means “harkening or listening” is usually thought of as a very old man, perhaps he was though we are not told this in scripture. There is a tradition that says he was 113 years old, but that is all it is, a tradition.
Anna’s name means “grace” and the Bible tells us that she was at least 84 years old and possibly, depending on how you interpret Luke’s description of her, well over 100. Both were waiting, watching, praying for God to fulfill His greatest promise to Israel and through Israel to the world.
They knew the Old Testament prophecies and so, they knew that when Messiah came he would be a male and his parents would come and present him before the Lord. So, day by day, year by year, they watched, as the people came to the Temple. I imagine they approached every mother with a male child, looked into innocent faces and waiting to see if the God would reveal to them, this is the one, this is Messiah.
And one day, the day Luke records, that is exactly what happened. The Holy Spirit revealed the child who would be the Savior, Redeemer and King.
The Bible says of Simeon, Luke 2:25-27 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
He was just, this describes his relationship and attitude toward others. He was devout, this described his relationship and attitude toward God. He was led by the Holy Spirit, this describes his attitude toward following and obeying God.
The Bible says that Simeon was told by the Spirit that he would not die until he saw, “the consolation of Israel.” This must have become a lifelong mission, a divine quest to spend his life looking for the consolation of Israel.
So just and devout was Simeon that on this day the Holy Spirit got his attention and led him into the Temple. We don’t exactly how this was done, just that God directed him to the right place at the right time because he was the right man.
Now in vss. 28–32 we find Simeon’s response to the fulfillment of his life’s mission. He praises, he prays, and he prophesies while he holds this little month-old child in his arms.
Simeon’s words give us the fifth song that Luke records in these opening chapters, we have heard the songs of Elizabeth in 1:42–45; Mary in 1:46–56; Zacharias in 1:67–79; the angels in 2:13–14 and now Simeon adds his praise to these the first Christmas Carols.
Simeon’s Song - Luke 2:28-32 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
It is a song of thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness, “Lord let your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen they salvation.” He blesses God for keeping His promise and sending the Messiah. He joyfully praises God that he has been privileged to see the Lord’s salvation in the face of this child.
It is a song of fulfillment and contentment. Now he is content to die, ready to go home, knowing that he has seen the One who will save Isael.
It is also a song of salvation for all. “You have prepared salvation for all the people. Then he expands that by saying, “A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.”
This child would be the fulfillment of promises like Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. Isaiah 42:6-7 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.
It is also a Song of Prophecy Luke 2:34-35 Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Simeon stopped praising and started prophesying, and in his message, he used three images: a stone, a sign, and a sword.
Jesus would be the stone upon which many would stumble and fall in judgement and others would fall in repentance but rise in salvation.
Again, the Holy Spirit is leading Simeon to remember the old prophecies. Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
Peter commenting on this verse says in 1 Peter 2:6-8 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
The Messiah child that Simeon held would also be a sign, The world means “a miracle,” not a miracle of power but a miracle of revelation, of God’s truth. Just as the angel told the shepherds about the sign they would recognize the newborn, Jesus himself is the sign by which we can recognize the love of God.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth (proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God proved His love for us through the sign of Jesus birth, and yet just as Simeon prophesied, “he would be a sign which shall be spoken against.” Jesus was denied in His time on earth, and He is still being denied today. People call out for a sign and when God gives that sign by the birth, life, death and resurrection of His own son, they still deny the sign. And in denying His sign, they also deny His love.
Simeon also said that the Messiah would be a sword. This sword would be a two-edged. One edge would pierce the heart of Mary with terrible sorrow and the other edge would sever all earth’s relationships and reshape them according to heaven’s relationships.
Matthew 10:34-39 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Jesus would be the sword that severs all other relationships and breaks all previous bonds. His coming is the dividing line of history, of families, and of eternity.
Simeon was there that day and led by the Holy Spirit he saw it. And he was not alone, as he praised God, someone came close, listened and then added her praise to his.
Anna’s Character – Luke 2:36-38
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
Now we come to Anna’s part in this story. Her name means “grace.” She was an aged widow. She was also a prophetess. This doesn’t me she told the future but that she was one who spoke of God’s words.
She departed not, literally this means, she kept on not leaving. She kept on keeping on in the Lord’s House. The House of God was her anchor, her landmark, her calling. She had to be there.
She served God with prayers and fasting night and day. This doesn’t mean that she lived on the Temple grounds but that anytime there were times of worship, times of prayer and fasting, she was there. She never missed a service in the temple. She never missed an opportunity to serve the Lord by being in the House of God. By simply being there she honored her God.
Her faithfulness to the Lord’s House made her stand out from all others and God rewarded that faithfulness on this day. Wouldn’t it have been a shame to miss going to
The Lord’s House on the day the Messiah came through the gates. But Anna, the Bible proudly notes, Anna never missed a service.
Luke in vs. 38 says Anna “coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord.” Just as Simeon finished his praise, she jumps in. We aren’t told the exact words, only she “gave thanks likewise unto the Lord.” But we do see something that we didn’t see before.
She gives thanks and then she goes a step further “she spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” We get the impression that Simeon and Anna weren’t the only ones who went to the Temple and looked at the parents as they brought in their sons. It seems there were others who had patiently and faithfully waited for God’s promises to be proven true. Anna made sure that others knew, she had found Christ in the Temple that day.
She, Simeon and the other faithful ones saw so much, endured so much, suffered so much but above all these they hoped for much more. And that hope was fulfilled that day. The greatest thing that ever could happen, happened when the Messiah came. They experienced the climax of life, they saw the summit of history. Everything else was secondary, unimportant now because they had found the consolation of Israel, and the redemption of Jerusalem.
Have you Found Him?
Have we all found Him? Have we found the One who was born to be our consolation and our redemption?
Paul talking to the Athens spoke of seeking the Lord. In Acts 17:27-28 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being.
If we seek him the Bible says we will find Him because Jesus is not hidden but is here. Here in this story, here in this Book, here in this house of God. He is here and in all other places. He is not far from every one of us, because just like Simeon and Anna believed, God is faithful, His word is true and His Spirit is leading.
If we are lost in sin, then the Spirit led you on this rainy Christmas Day here to the Lord’s house to find Jesus. If you have already found him and He is your savior, the Holy Spirit still leads you to discover and know Him more.
After Paul found Jesus on the Damascus road, everything changed. That sign from heaven, showed him the rejected cornerstone and the sword was Jesus. He crushed and cut Paul into a different man. After finding Jesus everything in his past life meant nothing and to know more of Christ meant everything.
Philippians 3:7-10 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death. Yes, he was more than willing even to die for Jesus because knowing Him was worth dying for him and living for Him.
The climax of Simeon and Anna’s lives was finding Jesus the Messiah.
And for every person that has truly found Jesus it is the same. All other relationships are secondary. All goals become subservient to knowing him. All other wealth, knowledge, power, or glory becomes insignificant when I find the Savior.
What can be a greater day than the day I find eternal life? What can be a great accomplishment than my soul being cleansed by the blood of Jesus? What can be more fulfilling than realizing that my life now has purpose in God’s plan of eternity?