Simeon and Salvation

Lets set the scene – so here is young Jesus, baby Jesus, and He is taken to temple (Luke2.22-23). This is before the wise men arrived, and His earthly parents offer the required sacrifice as part of the dedication ceremony for families that could not afford a lamb (v.24)., and in Luke 2.25-35 we read 

“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,

 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.””

So here is Simeon, waiting for the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Consolation of Israel, and he takes up Jesus in his arms. He blesses God, he loves this baby despite only just having met him, so to speak, because he knows who He is, and what He is bringing…salvation.

Simeon knew that this was salvation for all, notice with me what he said…

…my eyes have seen your salvation

that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

All people, not just Israel, not just Jews, but Gentiles too, salvation is here for everyone through this person.

Though Mary and Joseph had been told that their Son was the Messiah (Matthew 1.21), perhaps they had not properly understood the global scale of what this child would accomplish.

Jesus was then, and is now, and always will be, God’s salvation.

Simeon saw, and Simeon knew. Simon knew that he saw the Lord’s salvationa light for revelation, and the glory of God. I wonder if you have ever seen Jesus like that, as your own personal salvation, as a revelation of who God is, as the glory of God walking and talking in human flesh.

If you have, then this Christmas do everything you can in your own words and ways to manifest that to others, to show others what you believe.

If you haven’t, all it takes is faith; believe Him, believe in Him, put your trust in Him, and the gift you will receive this Christmas will be the best gift ever, the gift you need the most, forgiveness and life eternal. 

End Of The Story?

Almost every year we hear the Christmas story told (which is a great thing), but, do we ever read on?

Luke 2 is an amazing chapter, detailing God’s coming to earth in human flesh, the birth of Jesus. We read of shepherds, we read of angels, we read of Jesus being called Jesus, we even flick back to Matthew 2 to see the wise men coming…then we’re done.

But, there is some fascinating stuff in the rest of Luke 2; Jesus is presented at the temple (not too dissimilar to the baby dedications we do), and we read a little about the childhood of our Lord.

One verse in particular stood out to me as I read over the story again recently;

And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favour of God was upon him.

Luke 2.40

Particularly the first half, the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. How apt is that for us this time of year; we celebrate Jesus’ first coming then go back to our daily business…we tick over into a new year and slowly but surely return to what is ‘normal’ for us.

Rather, how we ought to follow the example of Jesus – growing, becoming stronger, becoming filled with wisdom.

If He can lay aside, temporarily, His heavenly glory and dwell among us to show us the way, surely we can rouse ourselves to grow in our faith this coming year, surely we can become stronger in our faith, stronger in service, stronger in love, stronger in our relationships this coming year, and surely we should be seeking the wisdom that God gives so freely to those who ask this coming year.

Jesus’ story didn’t end after the angels, shepherds, and wise men went back to doing what they were doing. Likewise, our Christmas story that we replay each and every year is not finished by the morning of the 26th, rather, it should be the catalyst for growth, for change, and for pushing ahead towards the upward call of God in Jesus.

Spiritual Depression – That One Sin – 1 Timothy 1.15-16

Lloyd-Jones makes an interesting point when saying that if all the Christian life entailed was accepting salvation and going to heaven then the New Testament letters would never have been needed, and there would be no real need for the church.

His point is that we all struggle with life and will continue to struggle with life regardless of whether we have professed Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Being a believer is no guarantee that life will be smooth sailing.

He goes on to say that if you have never had trouble in your life, never battled through anything, are you really a believer? His point is that upon becoming a Christian, there will be things in our lives that we want to let go of, get rid of, or just plain run away from.

15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

1 Timothy 1.15-16

There will be things we all want to get rid of in our lives, some may take more time than others and this is ok. We know from the full counsel of Scripture that the forgiveness that Jesus offers is total and complete, and it is in this truth that we need to rest. 

Maybe there is something in your life that you look back on and cannot understand how you could be forgiven for.

This one sin can really get people down. They look at the testimony of others and say ‘Praise God, what a transformation!‘, but struggle to understand that they are also forgiven from all of their past. 

When we differentiate between sin (this one is worse than that one), we fail to take God at His Word. We fail to understand that Jesus died for the sins of the entire world, including the one sin that you feel you will never be forgiven. 

When an angel appeared to Joseph to reassure him he said this,

…“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1.20-21

The shed blood of Jesus covers all sins, and you are completely forgiven. The angel didn’t say “…he will save his people from some sin, but not that one sin you committed…”

Lloyd-Jones summarises well, and this is a great thought for us to take into today,

“You and I must never look at our past lives; we must never look at any sin in our past life in any way except that which leads us to praise God and to magnify His grace in Christ Jesus. I challenge you to do that. If you look at your past and are depressed by it, if as a result you are feeling miserable as a Christian, you must do what Paul did…He glories in grace and says the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

Revelation 12.1-6 – The best laid plans…

Last time in Revelation we saw God’s temple in heaven open and there were signs of His power and might, flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. Powerful indeed. Now another great sign appears in heaven, a pregnant woman.

1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.

3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

Anyone who has had children will know how special a time pregnancy is; physical, emotional, spiritual changes and ‘the glow’ that people talk about!

Who then is this pregnant woman from whom a male child will be born, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron?

Well, if we take the child to be Jesus, the woman would have to be the Biblical nation of Israel. When we see that on her head she has a crown of twelve stars, this helps us to see that we are talking about Israel. Genesis 37.9-11 also helps with this sign.

Who is waiting? A great red dragon…actually here we need not wonder who it is as v.9 tells us explicitly…who is called the devil and Satan…He plans to devour the child, the devil tries to do everything that he can do derail the plans of God, even using men such as Herod to try and kill infant/toddler Jesus in Matthew 2.16.

It didn’t happen then, it doesn’t happen here in Revelation, and it will never happen. To quote Gamaliel, a teacher of the law we read of in Acts,

“…if [this plan] is of God, you will not be able to overthrow [it].”

Just like God providentially provided protection for the woman here for three and a half years, just as He providentially protected infant Jesus by allowing escape to Egypt, He will do for you too if you trust Him. Our God is everywhere, knows all, sees all, has power over all, and works everything to our ultimate good, our salvation in Christ.

Poet Robert Burns wrote

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.

Our accuser will lay plans against us, and when he sees we are living for the Lord they will be well-laid plans. But, we are to take heart, for Jesus has overcome the world and everything in it, including the best laid plans of mice, men, and dragons.