This week’s lesson is our Christmas Sunday School lesson.  As we have been seeing in these past couple of weeks, we are going to be doing another flashback and then a flash forward in this week’s lesson.  Again, our lesson this week is going to be geared towards triumph in Jesus’ triumphant arrival.  This week’s lesson is being taught from Luke 2:25-35 and John 12:23-26.

Simeon Sees the Messiah

Our lesson opens up with a flashback that this time around is not a prophecy about the birth of Christ.  As we are going to see, Jesus has already been born by the time of the event that is recorded here in Luke’s gospel.

We are told about Simeon, a just and devout man who was in Jerusalem and was waiting for the “Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25).  I want you to also notice that we are specifically told that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon.  So, what does all of this mean?

The grief of Israel

Consolation means to console.  To console means to support, to comfort; to alleviate the grief, sense of loss, or trouble.  Now, we have to remember that by this point in time in scripture, the Lord had gone “silent” for 400 years between the Old and New Testament.  This “silence”, I want you to understand, does not mean that the Lord had gone to sleep or that He had stopped working – God does not sleep or rest.  God went silent in communicating to Israel – there were no prophets sent to them in those 400 years.

During those 400 years between the testaments, the Jews faced all kinds of trouble.  This trouble included the Maccabean Revolt from which the celebration of Hanukkah comes from; the Jews also ended up being under Roman authority during those 400 years of silence.  Now, let us not forget that prior to those years of silence, the Jews had been exiled to Babylon after years of being disobedient, and Israel, the northern kingdom, had been conquered by the Assyrians.

The faith of Simeon

So there had been centuries of grief for Israel.  To show you the faith of Simeon and how devout he was in his faith in God, Simeon sat in the temple waiting for the Lord to console Israel after all of those centuries!  No, he did not live through all of those centuries, but in the time that he did live, he was faithful that God would help Israel after being silent for centuries.  Simeon’s faith was truly great!  

I would suggest that the faith of those who genuinely believe in the Lord today have a similarly strong faith to Simeon.  We have not seen the Lord or Christ in the same manner that the people were able to behold Christ, yet, we still have faith.  Jesus said to Thomas, the one who doubted the resurrection, “because you (Thomas) have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29).”

Again, I want you to pay attention to the Holy Spirit being upon Simeon.  What’s very fascinating about this fact is that prior to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, it was often the anointed of the Lord who the Holy Spirit would be upon.  For example, we would say that the Holy Spirit rested upon David, who was the Lord’s anointed.  Even Saul, the first king of Israel, had the Holy Spirit come upon him for a moment in time (1 Sam. 19:23-24).  As you know, the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and overshadowed her in the conception of Christ.

So, Simon, I want you to understand, was truly special for the Holy Spirit to come upon him.  We are told that the Spirit revealed to Simeon that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ (the Messiah) (Luke 2:26).  So, Simeon stood by patiently waiting in his faith for the day he would meet the Messiah face to face.

Meeting the Messiah

We are then told in our lesson that Simeon was led by the Spirit, and he was being led there for the purpose of meeting the Messiah (Luke 2:27).  You see, Joseph and Mary were coming to the temple that day with Jesus.  The reason why they were coming to the temple with Jesus was according to the “custom of the law.”  

The custom that is being spoken of here is similar to our child dedication ceremonies that we do after a child is born.  Typically, this ceremony was performed by a priest but Simeon was the one that was waiting for Christ on this day.  Now, Simeon was a priest but, again, I want you to understand that he was anointed by God for this moment.

We are told that Simeon took Jesus up in his arms, he held the baby, and he blessed the Lord (Luke 2:28).  We will see that Simeon was truly thankful for this moment.  Simeon first says, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation (Luke 2:29-30)”.  Let us remember that he was promised through the Spirit that he would not see death until he laid eyes on the Messiah.  

The Messiah was set to bring forth salvation, consolation, to a people who were in grief.  We have already noted that the Jews were certainly a people that was in grief for centuries.  Now, we know that God gave the world His only begotten Son (John 3:16), so, I do want to point out that the world was also in grief as well.  The world was in grief due to sin and living under the oppression of sin.  Unlike Israel, the world had not yet received the Lord and was consumed with worshiping idols and false gods.  So, the world was in as much need of Christ as the Jews.

Notice as we go through the rest of what Simeon says, he points this out to us.  Simeon states, “Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel (Luke 2:31-32).”  Remember that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon as he was saying these things.  So, what Simeon was saying were words that was coming from the Lord.  What this means is that the plan of salvation was always geared towards all people and not just a selected group of people.

Marveling at Simeon’s message

Mary and Joseph marvel after hearing what Simeon has said of Christ (Luke 2:33)  What Simeon had said was not anything new to Mary and Joseph as they had heard this same message from Gabriel.  I believe they marvel that Simeon, a man, is saying these things about the child, Jesus.  I believe they are marveling at the moving of the Holy Spirit.

As they marveled, Simeon blessed them and said of the child that he was destined “for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Luke 2:34-35).”  Yes, while Jesus’ arrival to the world meant that triumph was approaching, there were still going to be many that would reject Him.  Triumph would come through His death, and as we know, it would also be sealed in His resurrection.

The Son of Man Glorified

Our lesson now picks up after Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem that we learned about in last week’s Sunday School.  There were a few Greeks who came to worship at the feast (John 12:20).  They went to Philip and asked to see Jesus.  When Jesus was informed that they were seeking Him, we see Jesus begin to speak about His purpose.  Jesus was on a mission from birth, and He tells the people that the time had now come.

Born to die

Jesus stated to them, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.  Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain (John 12:23-24).”  There is no other way to say this other than Jesus was born to die for the sins of mankind.  The purpose of Jesus, the only begotten Son, was to become our propitiation – an atonement offering to God.

Jesus had to die in order for the grain of wheat to produce much grain.  As Paul wrote, Jesus is the firstborn from the dead.  Through His death and His resurrection, He gives way to others being able to join Him in the resurrection.  Jesus’ death and resurrection sets for the path for mankind to be able to put on that which is incorruptible and inherit the kingdom of God.  

The mission from birth was for the Lord to be glorified in bringing back that which was lost when the world fell into sin.  Mankind’s place was always one that was glorified and to be by the Lord’s side and dwell with Him.  Mankind lost this place when Adam and Eve fell in the garden.  The Lord always intended to bring mankind back to Him through the death of His only begotten Son.

Our lesson closes with Jesus then stating, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor (John 12:25-26).”

We must give up our love of this world as our top love, and love the Lord if we want to be by the Lord’s side for eternity.  God has given to us the opportunity of everlasting life through Jesus’ mission from birth.  Sadly, many of us turn away from this opportunity because we cannot seem to let go of our love of this world.  To not let go of the world is truly a sad outcome when Jesus’ mission from birth was one to save us.  Why not love the one who gave His life for you?


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