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Embracing Hope.

Scripture Reading       Luke 2:22-40 

Lord, this morning we come to you with open hearts;

Hearts that need to be mended,

Hearts that need to be filled with New hope,

Hearts that need to be redirected,

Hearts that need to be encouraged and forgiven. Amen

 

Embracing Hope

The prophet Simeon, a devout and righteous man was waiting in Jerusalem, longing expectantly for Scripture’s fulfillment. He was promised by God that he would actually see, with his own eyes, the Savior of the World. Throughout his life he would have anticipated this moment.  He would have longed for it and hoped for it.  And then, one day the moment came.

 

Simeon was frequently in the Temple meditating and in a constant state of anticipation of the most significant foretold event in the Jewish faith – the arrival of the Jewish Messiah. During this time in history, both Israel and Judah experienced being conquered by neighboring empires, had been sent into exile, the prophets had been silent for 400 years, and now they are under the rule of the Roman Empire.  His hope was for a deliverer and a Savior to come to the people of Israel. This was a promise of comfort and restoration that had been proclaimed in Isaiah 40. Simeon held on to the hope that God would one day redeem His people.

 

I had once read a touching and unforgettable story written by Chuck Swindoll, a Christian pastor, and author.

It is a story of a Major in the marines who was held by the Viet Cong for five and a half years: Among the prisoners in that same POW camp was a tough young 24 yr. old marine who had already survived two years of prison-camp life and in relatively good health. Part of the reason for his good health was that the camp commander had promised to release the young man if he cooperated. The young marine new this had happen in the past so he became a model prisoner. As time passed he realized that his captors lied to him and he then refused to do all the work and rejected all offers of food and encouragement. In a matter of weeks he did not survive.

 

Why did he give up? The marine realized that his enemies did not mean what they said,

there was no hope for release, no way to escape, and no reward for good behavior. He had lost hope. When someone feels that they have lost all hope, it is a dangerous place to be. When we lose hope we let go of all our options.

 

 

In Hebrews, we are reminded that hope is called the anchor of the soul. Why? Because it gives stability to the Christian life. The author is teaching us that we don’t want to set our anchors of hope in the “shakable” things of this world. It is not just any hope but specifically the firm and secure hope we can count on. We find it in God’s promise that Jesus secured our salvation. Simeon had this hope. His anchor was in a promise.

 

Simeon was filled with hope, and blessed with joy because his vision could see God’s Salvation – not just to Israel, but to all people. I’d like to think that Simeon was so full in the spirit that day. He knew his life was never going to be the same. Israel’s and the Gentile’s future, will one day never be the same.

 

There is nothing in this world that is more contagious than a child of God filled with hope. Hope is a mind changer. When you have hope, you begin to think differently.

Hope makes you live differently. Hope has all the ingredients that are necessary to live every day full, complete, and changed. The world is looking for purpose, a better direction, and hope is the qualifier.

 

Scripture reveals that Simeon was a righteous man. When we look at the word righteous from a biblical perspective, the word righteous simply means, I’m right with God. All of ones motives and intentions are heavenly motivated. As my mother would say, “Never do anything in secret that you wouldn’t do in front of the world to see.” As believers, we wear our Christian badge with integrity in respect to God’s approval. It is God’s standards we live by, not what the world has set as standards. When we remove God’s standards we have just corrupted the very core of righteousness.

 

Scripture also revels to us that Simeon was a very devout man. Simeon was devoted to God in all areas of his life. He had committed his life to be entirely devoted to God’s will. Many people can be enthused, excited, and motivated for a cause, but to be devoted to something means to be committed at all cost and not to waver.

 

We read in verse 29, “Now Master let your servant go in peace according to your word.”

 

Did Simeon pass away quietly in the night after he held the Christ Child in his arms or did he live many years later? The Bible does not say. The one thing you can be sure of, Simeon’s life was never the same. After he met Christ, I believe everyday going forward was full of promise and hope. I also believe his days were never the same; his encounter with life was never the same, his problems were never the same, and his relationships were never the same. As a matter of fact I believe Simeon’s life was changed in every aspect. From that day forward, Simeon couldn’t help but see everything in a better light. I believe Simeon never went to the Temple with the same mindset because he knew from that moment that the blessings of God were always on him because of his salvation.

 

Church, we need to have that same kind of mindset today. Like Simeon, if you’re a child of God, every day of your life should be looked at with certainty and clarity. Just like Simeon, our mornings are blessed with that same hope. Our day to day walk with God is blessed with hope. With every situation before us, and every Goliath that we face, we are conquerors through the assurance of hope and salvation in Christ.  That same hope that Simeon saw is our hope and the same hope for all generations that follow.   Nothing in our life should ever be the same when we embrace hope in Christ.

 

Simeon praises God and Blesses Joseph and Mary

 

Simeon praises God first for fulfilling his promise to him. The spirit moves Simeon to go to the Temple that day. He doesn’t know why the spirit moves him to go to the Temple, but he is obedient to the prompting of the spirit. As he gets to the Temple, Scripture reveals to us that Mary and Joseph enter. It is at that moment, Simeon’s promise of seeing the Messiah is about to be fulfilled. When he takes the Christ child in his arms, it is at that moment that he embraces the hope for humanity. We read in vs 29-32.”Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word, because my eyes have seen your salvation. You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples. It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles and a glory for your people Israel.”

 

In vs 33 we read that his father and mother where amazed by what was said about him. Simeon is saying that it is a blessing and honor given to Mary. God has entrusted the two of them with the care of His son and then blesses the family.

 

Simeon knew he could pass in death because his salvation was secure in Christ. When we come to the point in our life that we are able to face Christ with calm, ease, and acceptance, we are able to pass in death knowing that He holds us secure in His hands and we do not need to fear death. Christ conquered death and the grave.

 

I guess we could ask ourselves the questions, what has God entrusted us with? What responsibility has God given us? What tasks has God entrusted us with? As Christians, we are all given opportunities and responsibilities to be effective for the kingdom of God whether through our witness or our actions. We all have a role in building the kingdom of God.

 

After Simeon had blessed the family, the moment of amazement takes a different turn for the parents. He then says to Mary, vs 34-35, “This boy is assigned to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that generates opposition so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your inner most being too.”

 

What scripture is revealing is that there will be those who accept Christ and there will be those who deny Christ as the Son of God. Those who fall cannot accept the truth that Christ is scripture fulfilled. Even the religious leaders, the law givers, and the many who should have known because of their scripture that speaks of the coming of a messiah, will fall because of their unbelief. They were looking for and expecting a different kind of king, a worldly king. Christ came with bigger expectations bringing hope and salvation He failed in their eyes to do what they expected their Messiah to do-destroy evil and all their enemies and establish an eternal kingdom with Israel as the preeminent nation  in the world. But Psalms 22, describes a suffering Messiah who would be persecuted and killed, but the Jews chose to focus instead on those prophecies that discuss His glorious victories, not His crucifixion. The Jews believed that the Messiah, the prophets which Moses spoke about, would come and deliver them from Roman bondage and set up a kingdom where they would be the rulers. For all those who accept Christ as the Messiah will rise up. This rising will be given to all, Jews and Gentiles alike who accept Christ fully as the Messiah and the one true God.

 

When we read “a sword shall pierce your inner most being”, what scripture is saying is that Mary will experience joy but there will also be pain. Over the course of Jesus’ life, Mary had to adjust her expectations of what it meant that Jesus was Messiah. She was both Mother and servant of Christ. She would see the nation turn against him knowing that he was the fulfilled promise. Mary would also have to endure, as a mother of Christ, the pain and suffering that He would experience. Never has there been a son born to any mother like Christ. Nor has there ever been a mother so loved by her son. At the cross, Mary’s soul was truly pierced.

 

Anna response to Jesus.

 

Anna’s reaction was immediate and dramatic. After hearing Simeon’s comments to the family, she speaks in a loud and joyful voice, telling everyone near her, about this extraordinary child. Here in front of everyone, is the one being that will bring redemption to Israel. What Anna is expressing with joy and excitement is that for everyone who was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem, Scripture this day has been fulfilled. She spoke to everyone who would listen.

 

I find it noteworthy that both Simeon and Anna were of older age. Their word was valued because of their wisdom and their service to God. This gave credibility to the witnessing of the Christ child fulfilling scripture that the Messiah had arrived.

 

Conclusion.

 

Simeon embraced his hope when he held the Christ child.  Anna witnessed the hope that Simeon embraced and she left joyfully proclaiming the redemption for the people and the nation. We do not have a casual hope nor a passing hope. The hope we have in Christ that Simeon and Anna rejoiced over is our securing hope that is permanent  

 

As said by Helen Keller, “Hope is powerful. It’s been said, “Hope sees the invisible…feels the intangible… and achieves the impossible.”   

 

When we have faith in Christ, however, we have hope not only in this life but in the next. The future, while uncertain can be entrusted to God and He will help us through. Paul tells us that those of us who know Christ, “Do not sorrow as those who have no hope,” Though we face times of sorrow, Paul tells us, we will face them differently because of the hope we have in Christ.