Calvary Road Baptist Church

“CHRIST’S PRESENTATION AT THE TEMPLE

(Simeon’s reason for being there)

Luke 2.22-38

 

There were four prominent figures on the scene when it was time for the newborn baby Jesus to be presented at the Temple in Jerusalem in accordance with the dictates of the Law of Moses. Of course, Joseph was there as the head of the household, but his presence there was not as significant as the presence of the Christ child Himself, His mother Mary, and two other figures, a man named Simeon, and an old woman named Anna. We are now three weeks from Easter Sunday and our celebration of the bodily resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. Turn in your Bible to Luke chapter 2, where we begin reading at verse 22:

 

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.

25     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,

28     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.

33     And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

34     And 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.

36     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.

 

This morning I would like to examine Simeon’s reason for being at the Temple that day. The verses that deal with his presence there are found in Luke 2.25-35:

 

25     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,

28     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.

33     And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

34     And 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.

 

These eleven verses may be broken into four smaller passages so we can better understand the reason for Simeon’s attendance when Christ was presented at the Temple.

 

First, WE LOOK AT THE WAITING OF SIMEON

 

25     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.

 

We see, from verse 25, that this very devoted and godly man was specifically waiting for the “consolation of Israel.” Here we have described for us a man who is just tired of sin. He wanted God to finally overturn the wickedness of his nation and to rule victorious. He wanted to see God’s solution to the sin problem in people’s lives. Notice also, in verse 25, that Luke informs us that the “Holy Ghost was upon him.” This tells us something about Simeon that is not true of present-day believers. Whereas Simeon had the Holy Spirit upon him, Christians now have the Holy Spirit in them from the very instant of their salvation, according to Romans 8.9, which reads, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

As the Holy Ghost was upon Simeon in the same manner in which He had been upon certain holy men in the past, He revealed to Simeon that he would not see physical death until he had seen, with his own eyes, the Lord’s Christ. Three observations need to be made at this time: In this phrase, consider to whom the word “Lord” is referring. This Greek word kurioV is their counterpart to the Hebrew word YHWH, or Jehovah. Therefore, when we see the word “Lord” in the New Testament, we must remember that “Jehovah” is in the mind of the writer. Second, we see the word “Christ.” This is the Greek counterpart of the Hebrew word for “Messiah.” Therefore, when you hear someone use the word “Messiah” you know that he means “Christ.” To further aid in understanding, both of these words in their respective languages mean the same as the English word “anoint.” Thus, we see that Jesus is Jehovah’s Christ, is Jehovah’s Messiah, is Jehovah’s Anointed . . . Jehovah’s chosen One. Finally, notice again exactly what the Holy Spirit revealed. Simeon would actually see the Lord’s Christ prior to his physical death. Therefore, whoever this man sees who is of great significance to him must be the Messiah for whom the godly Jews had been waiting for so many centuries . . . which was our Lord Jesus Christ, truly the consolation of Israel.

 

Second, WE LOOK AT THE WITNESS OF SIMEON

 

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,

28     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.

 

No chance encounter took place here. The Holy Spirit of God orchestrated all this so that prophecy would be fulfilled. Therefore, when the Christ child was brought to the Temple to be presented to His Father Jehovah in accordance with the Mosaic Law, the Spirit of God had somehow guided Simeon to be there, whereupon he took up the Child in his arms and acknowledged that he had seen the Christ of God, the consolation of Israel. He was now ready to die in peace.

Notice that Simeon understood that this salvation of God is not in ritual and process. It is a person, who is therefore available, not only to Jews, but to Gentiles as well. Of course, that means that since the salvation of God is a person, the salvation of God cannot be merely religious observance, cannot be merely the acquisition of knowledge and information, and cannot be the performance of good deeds. All those things are excluded if the salvation of God is a person.

 

Third, WE NOTICE THE WONDER TOWARD SIMEON AND HIS WORDS

 

Luke 2.33: “And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.” There can be no doubt that Joseph and Mary were very much aware that their Child was unique and blessed of God. However, could they have comprehended the whole picture? Mary almost certainly was aware of more than Joseph, but it is unlikely that even she grasped much more than the few slivers of truth that had been delivered to her by God’s grace. Therefore, as each new event unfolds in their life’s experiences, they are surprised and they marvel. Not prideful and haughty people, these. Not in any way know-it-alls. They are humble people who expect and deserve no special favor. Therefore, when their small Child receives what is due Him, it staggers them. It overwhelms them. They are awe struck.

 

Finally, SIMEON BLESSED JOSEPH AND MARY, BUT HIS FINAL WORDS ARE TO MARY WORDS OF WARNING

 

34     And 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.

 

Do you see the word “set” in verse 34? The word means “to place, to appoint,” much like you set a cornerstone in place; immovable from that time on.1 So Christ’s mission and destiny among men was set. It was unchangeable as God is immutable. That meant that Mary knew the words which this old man would utter next could not be altered.

He said, “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also.” Mary was thereby informed what the destiny of her Son was to be. His soul would be pierced through with a sword, literally. Her soul would be pierced through with a sword, figuratively. Some thirty-three years later, not far from where they were now standing, her Son’s limp, and dead body, hanging from Calvary’s cross, would be pierced in the side by a Roman soldier, fulfilling this prophecy.

 

Simeon’s reason for being in the Temple now completed, he could lay his tired old body down to rest until resurrection day for him and the other saints who died in faith before our Lord’s Own resurrection.

Do you think Mary ever forgot what that old man said to her on what had to that point been a happy day? I am sure his words continued to ring in her mind the rest of her life.

I am also sure that as she and the other women who stood aways from Calvary’s brow, where they saw the Savior’s mauled body hanging lifeless, she felt the stab of the blade in her own bosom as she watched that Roman thrust and pierce His side.

 

SERMON:

 

The last phrase of Luke 2.35, recording the words Simeon spoke as he warned Mary, reads, “the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Look at the word translated “thoughts” in Luke 2.35. The Greek word is dialogismoi, and refers to men’s thoughts and purposes.2 Our English word dialog comes from the Greek root of this word. Now look at that word “may be revealed.” That is the Greek word apokalujqwsin, which means to unveil or to reveal, and comes from the same root word as apocalypse.3

What Simeon told Mary was that her baby he was holding in his arms was set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, a sign which would be spoken against (Who by the way would be pierced with a blade), and this would result in the revealing of the thoughts of many hearts.

I want to focus your attention, for just a few moments, on that last phrase. Just what connection exists between the Lord Jesus Christ and the unveiling of your heart’s thoughts? Though this is not an exhaustive treatment of the topic, three answers come immediately to mind:

 

First, YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD CHRIST REVEALS YOUR HEART CONCERNING SIN

 

Sin is destructive. Sin is defiling. Sin is damning. Sin is delusional. Sin is divisive. As for sin’s destructiveness, consider that it was sin that destroyed Adam’s relationship with God. Sin wrecks marriages and breaks up families. Sin transforms people into drunkards, whoremongers, homosexuals, drug addicts, gambling addicts, spendthrifts, and people who do not regularly attend church. What does sin not destroy? How does it not damage? In what way does sin provide anything other than immediate gratification, which is of necessity followed by the tragic balloon payment of broken relationships and wrecked opportunities? However, that individual who refuses Christ denies the destructiveness of sin. He pretends that lives are not wrecked by sinful practices, and that cultures and the ravages of sins that people commit against each other do not bring down whole societies.

As for sin’s defilement, keep these things in mind: David pronounces that mankind in his sin has become filthy, Psalm 14.3. In Psalm 53.3, he insists that sinful man has become altogether filthy. Isaiah saw the defilement of sin so clearly that Isaiah 64.6 declares man’s best efforts at righteousness to be filthy rags, using a Hebrew word so odious that it cannot be properly defined in mixed company.4

Is sin damning? Consider that it is the soul that sinneth that shall die.5 Consider that a single sin will send anyone to the eternal torments of hellfire. Damning? If any sin committed against an infinitely holy God is thereby a sin of infinitely great wickedness, deserving infinitely severe punishment, then you grasp why sin is damning, must be damning, and can only be damning.

Sadly, sin is also delusional. That is, sin is of such a nature as to distort the sinner’s perception, to derange the sinner’s mind, and to leave the sinner’s vision with such a state of myopia, that he simply cannot understand, perceive, or grasp the grip sin has on his soul. Only sinners deceive themselves. Only sinners lie to themselves. Only sinners pretend things are the way they want things to be rather than things being the way they obviously are.

Finally, sin is divisive. Sin divided Eve from Adam. Sin divided Adam from God. Sin divided Cain from Abel. Sin divided Lot from his uncle Abraham and Ham from his father Noah. Sin divided Dinah from her father and brothers, and divided Joseph from his brothers. Sin divided Israel from Judah and sin divided the Jews from their homeland. Sin divides children from their Christian parents, and sin will divide you from this church.

So, how does your attitude toward Jesus Christ reveal your attitude toward sin? That is simple to explain: Jesus is the Savior from sins. Jesus is the remedy for sin. His blood washes sin away and brings spiritual healing to those afflicted by sin. However, if sin, with its stench and rottenness, is preferable to you than Jesus Christ, then we know your heart toward sin. Have you come to Jesus? Will you come to Jesus? If the answer is no, then the entire universe knows, as well as the angelic host of heaven knows, that you prefer the pleasures of sin for a season to Jesus Christ. You choose that which defiles, that which destroys, that which damns, that which deludes, and that which divides (but which gives moments of pleasure and release), over the Son of the living God.

 

Next, YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD CHRIST REVEALS YOUR HEART CONCERNING SELF

 

We know that sins can be committed against God, against someone else, and against yourself. David, for example, when he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the murder of Uriah, confessed to God by saying, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight,” Psalm 51.4. He recognized that his sins against Uriah were also terrible sins against God. However, he knew that before he committed those sins. However, there are also sins that a person commits against himself. Consider First Corinthians 6.18, where the Apostle Paul writes, “. . . he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” Thus, you can sin against God, against other people, and against yourself.

What, then, does your attitude toward Christ reveal about your heart concerning yourself? A number of things, actually: If you have no interest in Jesus Christ, which is true of just about everyone who is not a Christian, then it is safe to say that you have a monstrously inflated view of yourself. Consider that Jesus Christ delivers sinners from their sins against God. So, since you have no interest in Jesus Christ, you have no concern for the sins you commit against God. The same can be said about your utter lack of concern for the sins you commit against other people and the sins you commit against yourself. Reject Jesus Christ and His command to obey the gospel and I can assure you that you think more of yourself than you think of God, and that you think more of yourself than you think of other people. What a monstrous ego that displays.

Evangelicals like to show lost people as sitting on the throne of their own lives, with conversion coming when a sinner gets off the throne of his life so Jesus can sit on the throne of that sinner’s life. Of course, such a picture is patently absurd and does not reflect how the Bible pictures any sinner being converted to Christ. However, though getting off the throne of your life so Jesus can sit on your throne is a bogus way to explain the gospel, there is some truth to the notion that every sinner has an inflated sense of self-importance, and a diminished sense of Christ’s importance.

Will you consider, for a moment, the heinousness of your crimes against God, against your fellow man, and against yourself as God’s creature? Anyone who refuses to come to Jesus Christ does so, in part, because of a gargantuan ego. How very proud such a person is. What arrogance he displays who rejects the Savior who is offered to him in the gospel.

 

Finally, YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD CHRIST REVEALS YOUR HEART CONCERNING GOD

 

Have you noticed how different people behave toward you, depending upon whether you speak of God or you speak of Jesus Christ? Talk about God all day long and no one will become upset with you, but when you begin to mention Jesus Christ in a way that reflects His majesty and uniqueness people start getting mad at you. Why is this so? This is because people have so many different conceptions of God that any discussion of God is so generic that each person involved, or each person who overhears, feels the freedom to think what he wants about God. It is almost as if the entire country has succumbed to the Alcoholics Anonymous nitwit notion of God, as you understand him. I know of people who use this as license to make God according to their own imagination, with some seeing a tree as God, and others seeing nature and God, and still others envisioning everything as being God. Of course, this is utter nonsense, but it is the way people think in their sinful delusion. When you start talking about Jesus, however, you are forcing people to think in terms that are more precise. Mention Jesus and people may have to think about sins, about Christ’s crucifixion, and about such things as heaven for the believer and Hell for the unbeliever. People do not like that, do they?

This is just one illustration showing that how you think of Jesus really is an indication of how you really feel in your heart toward God. Remember the Apostle Paul before his conversion? He was a very religious man, one of the strictest practitioners of Judaism, a Pharisee. However, by his own testimony, so long as he was a Christ-rejecting Pharisee, no matter how vehemently he might have insisted that he loved God and was serving God, he was actually God’s enemy. Romans 5.10: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” In this verse, Paul reveals that prior to being reconciled to God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, Paul and everyone else were enemies of God. Therefore, you can say you love God all you want, but so long as you reject Jesus Christ the true attitude of your heart toward God is revealed by that refusal of His beloved Son.

 

Simeon really saw very clearly that the baby he held in his arms was the watershed, the dividing line, the crucial issue that would determine the eternal destiny of each man and woman.

The Apostle John would sum the matter up concisely in First John 5.12: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

Jesus Christ is the nexus. He is the focal point of God’s plan of redemption. He is not only the Savior, but He is also salvation. In other words, your salvation has entirely to do with what you do with Jesus Christ.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org