Simeon--an Example of Godliness!
O LORD, my precious Savior, be with me as I walk though life. Give me a true understanding of Your word. Keep my eyes ever focused on Your grace, mercy, power, and promises. Fill my heart with a genuine love both for You and my neighbors. Finally, grant that I may live in faithfulness until that moment that You have chosen to take me home to live forever in Your presence. Amen.
Isaiah here reflects upon the "lovingkindnesses of the LORD" as revealed in His dealings with Old Testament Israel. That same lovingkindness was evident in God's sending Jesus to be our Savior and is revealed anew each day in His dealings with us!
We are living in the time Paul describes here-a time when most people "will not endure sound doctrine," but rather will turn aside to "fables!" Yet God urges us to continue to share the truths of His Word with all who will listen, knowing that a "crown of righteousness" awaits all who love Jesus!
Text: Luke 2:25-35
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just 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. So he came by 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 which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is 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.”
In Christ Jesus, “a light” which enlightens our minds and hearts, dear fellow redeemed:
We all need them. Most of us have been blessed with them and by them. It is certainly God’s will that we all become one of them. They might have been your father or mother, perhaps an uncle or aunt, a friend, a Sunday School teacher, a pastor, or simply another member of your congregation. Who am I talking about? What am I talking about? I am talking about people who serve as examples of godliness for us—individuals who become spiritual role models for our lives, and who by their words and their actions serve to encourage and inspire us.
Such spiritual role models are certainly important. Jesus, whose primary purpose was to save us, also serves as a role model for our lives. He acknowledges that when He says: “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26b-28). The apostle Paul urges older Christian women to be role models for younger Christian women (cf. Titus 2:3-5), and the writer to the Hebrews describes one role model after another in his eleventh chapter, where he describes the Old Testament heroes of faith and encourages us to follow their examples of faith and piety.
In our text Luke describes a New Testament hero of faith—a man about whom we know very little—who, in fact, appears on only one page in our Bibles, and yet a man who serves as an excellent example of personal godliness. That man was Simeon. May the Holy Spirit bless our study this morning, as we consider SIMEON—AN EXAMPLE OF GODLINESS! We will consider how he was grounded in his faith, confident of his future, and ready to serve his Savior!
Yes, Simeon was grounded in his faith! Luke begins our text by saying: “And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Everything that Luke says about Simeon suggests that he was a strong believer, but let’s examine his faith a little closer to see wherein that strength lay. Simeon’s was a faith, first of all, that was built upon the promise of the Savior. Luke says he was “waiting for the Consolation of Israel.” “The Consolation of Israel” was, of course, the Promised Savior—the Lord Jesus. Simeon was a man who understood the Scriptural teaching of sin and grace. He understood that God’s law, given by Moses to Israel on Mount Sinai, condemned him in view of his sins. He without doubt knew the terse declaration of Ezekiel: “The soul who sins shall die!” (18:4c) But he also knew and found comfort and consolation in the mercy of God, for he would have known as well the Lord’s declaration, also recorded by Ezekiel: “I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies” (18:32a). Simeon was well instructed in God’s plans to send a Savior—he was looking for that Savior and took great comfort in the fact that his God would not fail to accomplish the redemption He had planned! He put no trust in himself—his own attempts to fulfill God’s law, but rather he put his trust in the LORD!
Note, secondly, that Simeon’s faith was the gift of the Holy Spirit, whom Luke describes as being “upon him!” We know from the words of St. Paul that “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3b). Man cannot believe on his own, but faith—that simple trust in the Savior—had been worked within Simeon’s heart, even as it has been worked in our own hearts. It was the Spirit of God then that sustained Simeon’s faith and moved that faith to become fruitful.
It is that very fruitfulness of faith, which, thirdly, reveals that Simeon’s faith was sound and well-grounded. He was “just and devout.” Simeon not only believed what was right about God and His Promised Savior, but he practiced it in his daily living. He did what was right—living honestly with his fellow men. He worshipped regularly and so drew near to his God. I had a conversation with a young man from Janesville this past Thursday. He is Roman Catholic, as is his father, while his mother is Lutheran. He attended Christmas Eve services in both churches this past week and commented to me on how full both churches were. But then he wondered why all those people did not come every week to church and commented that their absence was quite a shame. Simeon was not a once-a-year, holiday-only Christian!
No, my dear friends—SIMEON WAS AN EXAMPLE OF GODLINESS! He was grounded in his faith, and so are we to be! If someone were to write a statement about you, would they be able to say the same? Is Christ your personal cornerstone—the One whose Word shapes and defines your faith and your life? Is the evidence of the Holy Spirit present in your heart and life—
strengthening you each day as you study that Word and worship regularly with your fellow believers? Does your everyday living reflect the justice and mercy of God, so that you would be described as “devout”? If so, then you too are well-grounded in your faith. If you are not so sure, then now is the time to come with a penitent heart before God, to ask for His forgiveness, to rejoice in His Son, and to seek the guidance and strength of His Holy Spirit. Jesus came for you, even as He came for Simeon and everyone else. He wants you—the object of His love, to experience His every blessing and then by His grace to become an example of godliness for others!
Yes, SIMEON WAS AN EXAMPLE OF GODLINESS! He was grounded in his faith, and he was confident of his future! Simeon was a very unique and fortunate man in one way. We are told that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him—in a way Luke does not reveal—that “he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” On the day, then, that Mary and Joseph came to the temple in Jerusalem to present Jesus to the LORD, as prescribed by Mosaic Law, we are told that Simeon “came by the Spirit” and upon seeing the baby Jesus, he “took Him up in his arms and blessed God!”
What did this special knowledge given to Simeon and his opportunity to behold the Savior mean to him? It meant confidence in the future! Simeon burst out in praise: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation 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.” Simeon knew that in his arms lay the Christ! God had kept His promise and, therefore, Simeon knew with absolute confidence that his future in this life, under the guidance of his Savior, and beyond this life, by the grace of his Savior, was secure. He did not have to fear. Consequently, he was ready to die in peace at any time of the Lord’s choosing!
It is interesting to note that the Scriptures say nothing about Simeon’s age. In the verses following our text a woman named Anna is described as well over one hundred years old. Consequently, it is often assumed that Simeon was likewise a very old man and, therefore, ready to die anyway. But that was not necessarily the case. We simply do not know. One of my professors in seminary years ago suggested that Simeon may well have been a young man, which would make his words even more impressive—placing his entire life at God’s disposal!
The important truth to take away, however, is that irrespective of your age, you too can be confident of your future because of Christ. “But,” someone may object, “the Holy Spirit has not given any special revelation to me, and I have never beheld the Christ-Child with my eyes. How can I be certain?” Simeon’s words of praise give us the answer. Simeon said that God prepared His salvation “before the face of all people.” The biography of Jesus’ life has been recorded in all four Gospels. It has been confirmed by secular historians and archeological evidence. God has left no doubt that what He has revealed in the Scriptures is true and was intended to bring the light of revelation also to us! No other religion in the world has the authority of God’s truth as does our Christian faith in view of the Bible. Therefore, we too can, as Simeon of old, be confident of our futures both in this life and in the life to come. Our little ones can be certain that Jesus will walk with them throughout their lives. We, who are a bit more mature, can be certain that Jesus will be with us as we approach death. Therefore, we are much like Simeon, who serves as our example!
Yes, SIMEON WAS AN EXAMPLE OF GODLINESS! He was grounded in his faith, he was confident of his future, and he was ready to serve his Savior! As mentioned earlier, Simeon was ready to die in peace at any time, but he did not die after taking Jesus up into his arms. Instead he immediately began to serve his Savior by offering his encouragement and support to Mary and Joseph. We are told that Simeon “blessed” Mary and Joseph, no doubt assuring them of God’s love, guidance, and protection—something they would surely need as they sought to bring up God’s own Son. Then Simeon sought to prepare them with prophetic words of warning. He told them: “Behold, this Child is 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.”
What was the purpose of Simeon’s prophetic warning? It was intended to remind Mary and Joseph that theirs was a very special task—not simply to raise a child in the Lord, but to raise the Lord Himself in preparation for His arduous task of redemption. Jesus was not going to face an easy life, but rather a life of suffering and pain in mankind’s place. His goal was the salvation of us all. He paid the price for all, but the benefit would not be received by all, for those benefits are enjoyed by grace only by those who believe. Unfortunately, many reject the work of the Spirit and speak against the very Savior God has sent, thus revealing the unbelief in their hearts.
When it comes to Jesus the line is drawn—either one is for Him or against Him. Either one believes Jesus is the Son of God and the world’s Savior, or he does not. Those who believe will rise one day to enter the kingdom of heaven, while those who do not believe will fall into the depths of hell. Simeon believed and was ready to serve—wherever and whenever the Lord needed him. My dear friends, let us too with humble hearts believe and then serve. How long will we individually serve our Lord? That depends on God’s particular plan for each of us. Instead of becoming overly concerned about how long we may or may not live, let us rather devote ourselves to seeking those ways God would have us serve Him by helping others. We, as Simeon, are to be examples of godliness—for our children, for our other family members, for our friends and fellow believers. May God grant us that grace and His every blessing for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting