We all know the words; we’ve heard them over and over again. If you close your eyes, you can almost picture the. The Old Testament words that are read each year during Advent. The words of Isaiah, Micah and David which relate to the coming Messiah. They are repeated in sermons and songs and printed on Christmas cards.
Most of us can even recite bits, and pieces of those prophecies. Some are from the Prophet Isaiah “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” and “The Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)” Those words were read when the first Advent candle, the Prophet’s Candle, was lit two weeks ago.
And Micah’s word about where Jesus would be born “But you, O Bethlehem, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.” And those words were read last week when the Bethlehem Candle was lit.
And those prophecies were read and repeated for hundreds of years within the Jewish community as they looked to the one who would free them from their oppressors and restore Israel to the glory it had experienced under King David.
And all of those prophecies were fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
This morning we are continuing with our This Changes everything series. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve looked at how the birth of John the Baptist pointed to the birth of Jesus and how Christmas, the birth of Jesus, points to his ultimate return. \
This morning at Windgate, Pastor Rob is looking at the Old Testament prophecies and how they were fulfilled in the New Testament. Not just in the story of Christ’s birth but in his ministry, his death and ultimately in his resurrection. You will get to hear that next Sunday.
This morning we aren’t going to focus on the prophecies concerning the birth of Jesus. Instead, we are looking at the prophecy concerning the purpose of Jesus.
Maybe you remember looking at your newborn child and imagining all the possibilities wrapped up in that tiny person. And imagining how someday they would provide for you in your golden years, you know, as the next Sydney Crosby or Taylor Swift, without all the heartbreak.
In Luke chapter 2, we read how Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to be dedicated as required by the law.
I would suspect that Mary and Joseph saw this as an incredible opportunity. Jesus was probably the only one of their children to be presented to God at the temple. The rest probably were presented at the synagogue in Nazareth, where they lived.
We discover the back story in the two verses that precede the scripture that was read for us earlier..
Luke 2:22–24 Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
This requirement was spelled out in Leviticus chapter 12, in the Old Testament. And it’s there we read Leviticus 12:6 “When the time of purification is completed for either a son or a daughter, the woman must bring a one-year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtledove for a purification offering. She must bring her offerings to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle.
And maybe you’re thinking, hold on. Leviticus says that they were supposed to bring a lamb and a pigeon or a turtle dove, but in Luke, it says they were supposed to bring a pair of pigeons or turtle doves.
That was because of a caveat that was given later in the regulations spelled out in Leviticus 12:8 . . . “If a woman cannot afford to bring a lamb, she must bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons. . .“ And that statement tells us a little bit about Mary and Joseph’s economic standing.
And so, Mary and Joseph made the trip to Jerusalem to dedicate their son, and that is so fitting because Jerusalem would play such a central part in Jesus’ story. 96 times Jerusalem is mentioned in Luke’s account of the Jesus story. It was in Jerusalem that Mary and Joseph dedicated their son, and in Jerusalem where they lost their son and found him in the temple.
It was in Jerusalem where Jesus was welcomed by the crowd waving palm branches, in Jerusalem where he drove the merchants and money changers out of the temple and in Jerusalem where he was crucified.
It was in Jerusalem that the story would begin and end.
And it was as they arrived in Jerusalem for the dedication service that they encountered a man named Simeon. We don’t know a lot about Simeon. The Bible doesn’t record that he was a priest or a religious leader we are simply told that he was righteous and devout and that the Holy Spirit had come upon him.
And on the day that Jesus’ mother and Joseph took Jesus to the temple, we read Luke 2:25-32 At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Here is the story of a man who was living in the hope of a promise. The bible tells us that Simeon was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah.
And when I read the words of Simeon, I realized that I was reading words of hope, a hope foreseen, and a hope realized.
A hope for today and a hope for eternity.
A hope for Simeon and a hope for the world.
A Hope for me and A hope for you.
Today, Jesus offers us the same hope that was offered to Simeon. When this old man looked down at this little baby boy, he saw hope.
It would be almost another 2000 before poet Carl Sandburg would be born, but what Simeon saw in the baby Jesus is captured in Sandburg’s words. “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”
In this case, it was the reality of John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
That first Christmas happened because, in God’s opinion, the world should go on and not just go on but go on with hope.
And for the next 33 years, Jesus offered hope to the world and ultimately hope to us. Which is why it is written in Matthew 12:21 And his (Jesus’) name will be the hope of all the world.
So let’s jump into the Jesus story: Matthew 4:23 Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.
Jesus Offers Hope in the Face of Broken Bodies
Time and time again, through the story, we read the words “Jesus healed.” He healed the blind, the crippled, the lepers and those who were oppressed by demons. He healed with his touch, and he healed with his words. There was even one occasion recorded that he healed a lady who simply touched his garment as he walked by.
Men, women, and children who perhaps had given up any hope of ever being made whole, and Jesus gave them that hope. Shrivelled legs were straightened and strengthened, sightless eyes were opened and given sight, and silent tongues spoke.
And I truly believe that God still heals through the power of Jesus today. Does he heal everyone every time? Be pretty crowded if he did.
We live in finite bodies. Paul describes it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
And I do not believe that it is a cop-out to say that the final healing for the Christian is death, and that is why Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
But sometimes, God pushes aside the natural laws that he puts in place and a supernatural healing takes place. And that is why we pray for people to be healed. It was John Wimber, one of the founders of the Vineyard Church, who said “When we prayed for no one, no one was healed. Now we pray for lots of people, and some people are healed.”
There is a great statement in the book of Romans where Paul writes, Romans 4:18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—
Maybe today, you feel that you have no reason for hope, you are feeling hopeless. I would encourage you to be like Abraham to keep hoping even when there seems no reason for hope.
Along with praying for healing can we also pray the words that Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Can we trust that God wants the very best for us, even when we can’t understand the why?
You see, for the Christian, there is hope that even surpasses a healing hope.
Because every person who was ever healed by Jesus eventually died, at least in the physical sense.
This leads us to the next part of the story.
Mark 10:17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus was asked that question over and over again throughout the gospels.
And the question is still being asked today, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
I would suspect that someone in this group came today with that question on their mind. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
This morning let me assure you that Jesus Offers Hope in the Face of Eternity When Simeon looked into the eyes of the Christ Child, he said Luke 2:29-31 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people.
Where did Simeon see God’s salvation? Not in a set of rules or religious obligations but in this child.
Salvation is a person and not something that you do to earn your way to God.
Salvation is a Person, and that Person is Jesus Christ. You either know Jesus, or you don’t know Jesus. You’ve either entrusted your eternity to Jesus, or you haven’t. And it will always be your choice.
And Jesus himself was very clear that he isn’t one way to salvation but that he is the only way to salvation.
John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
And that hope that we have is a hope based on the assurance of the word of God when we are told in 1 John 5:13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.
I once heard another pastor say that they hoped their children didn’t miss heaven by 18 inches.
Of course, they were speaking of the 18 inches that separate the mind from the heart.
It’s too easy to believe intellectually without actually believing and trusting that Christ can make a difference in your life.
I hope that not one of you will miss heaven by 18 inches and that you will allow your belief to make the journey from your mind to your heart.
And maybe you are thinking, “That’s well and good for others, but I’ve done too many bad things in my life. God couldn’t forgive me or use me.” Really? Do you think that your past can limit the grace of God? That the God who created the universe is powerless in the face of your behaviour? Wow, you think a lot of yourself, don’t you?
Listen again to the words of Simeon, Luke 2:29-31 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people.”
God’s salvation wasn’t just prepared for some people, and it wasn’t just prepared for good people. It was prepared for all people, including you.
We need to understand that there is no sin that God cannot forgive and no person that God cannot use. And again, that belief has to make the 18-inch journey from your head to your heart.
In John’s gospel, we read a story where Jesus arrives at a well on one of his journeys, and there he meets a gentile woman. This was part of what Simeon saw when he held Jesus. If we go back to the scripture we started with, we read these words, Luke 2:32 ESV “A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel”
As we read the story, we discover that she had been married five times and was now living common law with her partner.
Now listen to the offer that Jesus makes to the woman, John 4:14 Jesus said “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
And this woman discovers what we all need to know, and that is Jesus Offers Hope in the Face of Brokenness.
I am pretty sure that this unknown lady figured that God had probably given up on her, much like many of her neighbours had.
It was no accident that in a time when the community well would have been a gathering spot for the village women, this woman was alone. Now I don’t know if this was a decision that she made based on how her neighbours viewed her or how she thought her neighbours viewed her?
The Bible is full of people who had blown it, and God proves over and over again that his grace is enough.
His grace was enough for the woman at the well, His grace was enough for Denn Guptill, and His grace is enough for you if you choose to accept it.
I don’t know what you’ve done or where you are today, but like Simeon, if you look to Jesus, you will see the light of God’s salvation.
And so, as we come to the end of my message, my prayer for you is the same as Paul’s prayer was for the church in Ephesus.
Ephesians 1:18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
The story ends in Luke 2:34–35 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. 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. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
It was during the celebration of Jesus’ dedication that Simeon pointed to the grief that Mary would feel as she watched her son being beaten, humiliated, and eventually dying on the cross. I wonder, as Mary’s soul was pierced on that day, if she remembered Simeon’s words.
Today as we celebrate the third Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the story, we also need to pause to remember the end of the story.