Luke 2:22-40 (First Sunday After Christmas—Series C)
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT
December 30, 2012
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our text for this morning is the Gospel lesson recorded in Luke 2:
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 blessed God and said, “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.”
Simeon. We don’t know a whole lot about him other than what Luke records for us this morning. He was a man in Jerusalem, a righteous member of Israel. It is generally thought that he was an old man since he stated that he was ready to die. He was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel. He was Holy Spirit-filled and Holy Spirit-led. You and I are probably most familiar with Simeon through the words of his song, the Nunc Dimittis. This is the song that we sing after the great celebration of the Lord’s Supper each week. Through this song we are united in faith with Simeon and, like him, we depart in peace from the Lord’s altar because our eyes too have seen God’s salvation in the true Body and Blood of Jesus.
You and I are quite like Simeon. The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon the Christ, the Savior, by leading Simeon to the Temple on the day that Mary, Joseph, and the forty-day old Jesus were there for the purification according to the Law of Moses. The Spirit led Simeon right to the One who was once the baby “wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” As there was no doubt when the shepherds found the baby Jesus in the manger because of the sign the angel had given to them, there was no doubt for Simeon as he was led by the Holy Spirit to see the Lord’s Christ with his own eyes.
How are we like Simeon? The Holy Spirit has revealed and has led us to Jesus, too. By nature, as was Simeon, we are spiritually blind, dead, and enemies of God. We cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord, or come to Him. The Holy Spirit has called us by the Gospel. He has invited us and drawn us by the Gospel to partake of the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ. For Simeon, it was the Gospel incarnate, the Word-made-Flesh, dwelling among us in the arms of Mary that the Spirit used to call Simeon to faith and revealed Jesus to Him. For you and me, it is the Gospel, the Word-made-Flesh coming to us through the Holy Scriptures and the Sacrament of Holy Baptism that the Spirit uses to call us to faith and to reveal Jesus to us. We read in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” 2 Thessalonians 2:14 reminds us, “To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
By the power of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel incarnate, Jesus Himself, Simeon’s eyes were opened to the Lord’s salvation, even though it was still wrapped in infant’s clothing. By the faith created in his heart by the Holy Spirit Simeon saw Jesus as the revealer of salvation to all nations. Like Simeon, the Holy Spirit uses the means of the Gospel message in His Word to give us the saving knowledge of Jesus so that we too trust, rejoice, and find comfort in Him. Also, through the water and the Word of Gospel in Holy Baptism, the Spirit has worked forgiveness of sins, rescued us from death and the devil, and has given you and me salvation through the gift of saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Luke’s Gospel shows us that you and I as Christians are like Simeon. Having been led by the Holy Spirit to Jesus, having received the gift of saving faith in the Christ whom he saw in Mary’s arms, Simeon received into his own arms the infant Savior of the world. What a moment that must have been for this man of God! How eternally special! How incredibly wondrous to be holding God who created heaven and earth now made flesh to save us all from death and sin! “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity! Pleased as Man with man to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel!” (“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” LSB 380)
“Immanuel,” God with us. That’s how we are also like Simeon. God is with us in the person of His incarnate Son, our Lord Jesus. Since we have received the gift of saving faith through the Gospel Word and Holy Baptism, we know that Jesus comes to us with His Real Presence in His true Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper. You and I take into our hands and mouths Jesus Himself. Simeon held Jesus in his physical arms. We hold Jesus with the “arms” of saving faith and trust that His Body and Blood are present in, with, and under the bread and wine in the Sacrament of His Supper. “What is this bread? Christ’s body risen from the dead. . . . What is this wine? The blood of Jesus shed for mine. . . . Yet is God here? Oh, yes! By Word and promise clear, In mouth and soul He makes us whole—Christ, truly present in this meal. Oh taste and see—the Lord is real.” (“What is this Bread?” LSB 629)
Jesus comes to us with His Body and Blood in His Supper giving us the complete forgiveness of sins which He won for us when He went to the cross. Jesus was the “sign that is opposed,” of which Simeon spoke. Jesus gave up His life into death so that you and I would have life eternal. Jesus, now risen from the dead, comes to this altar, to this sanctuary, to this people with the gift of Himself for our forgiveness, life, and salvation.
Because of the gift of Jesus the Savior, like Simeon, we also bless God. In the Divine Service we receive Jesus’ Gospel of forgiveness and life into our hearts through the hearing of His Word. We receive Jesus’ true Body and Blood with the bread and wine for forgiveness and salvation. Then we sing. We sing the song of Simon, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen the salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.” We are like Simeon. That’s why we sing the Nunc Dimittis. What better words could we pray and sing and bless the Lord with after having received ourselves the Lord’s Christ, Jesus, and His salvation?
Jesus has come to us in His Gospel and Sacrament. Therefore, you and I, like Simeon, are free to depart in peace. Jesus has set us free from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death. Because our eyes of faith have seen the salvation God has prepared for all peoples, we go forth in the peace of Christ, in the freedom of Christ, in the power and love of Christ, who “gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” (Galatians 1:4) So receive your Savior again today through faith as you hear His Word. Receive Him who comes to you in His Body and Blood. Then depart in peace since you have seen your salvation in the Lord’s Christ. Go in peace; you are free, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.