Todd A. Peperkorn, STM Messiah Lutheran Church Kenosha, Wisconsin Christmas 1 (December 26, 2010) Luke 2:22-40
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for this morning is from Luke 2, with focus on the words from Leviticus, “My eyes have seen your salvation.”
The Bible is always talking about how you look at things. Each one of us has a perspective, a way of looking at the world which is unique to us. Now many of these perspectives are good, and oftentimes they even make us who we are. Sometimes when you look at something, you think its funny, even if no one else gets it! It’s a part of the way you look at the world. It’s a part of what makes you human.
There was another man who had a perspective on things. His name was Simeon. He was, by many accounts, an old man. He was what the Israelites of Jesus’ day called “righteous.” That means he placed his hope in the coming of the Messiah, who would be the consolation of Israel.
Simeon spent his time in the Temple in Jerusalem. We might call it the church. This was where the people of God gathered for sacrifice and prayer and thanksgiving. It was the center of their worship life. This Temple was over seventeen acres in size, so we’re not talking about a little country church here. It was massive, and but the looks of things, if God was going to be anywhere, it would be in a big, impressive place like Herod’s Temple.
So there sat Simeon, waiting for the consolation of Israel. He was looking for something. Or more accurately, he was looking for someone, he was looking for the Messiah. He had been waiting, along with Anna the prophetess, for a very long time. For Simeon knew, because the Holy Spirit had revealed it to him, he knew that God was going to send one who would come and save His people from their sins. And so he waited. And waited. And waited. Many people had given up waiting on God. But God, as St. Paul reminds us today, works in the fullness of time. God works when and where He wills, and when He determines that things are right as they need to be, then that is when it will be so.
Into the picture came Jesus. He was forty days old, and H
is mother and step-father came to present Him at the Temple. When Simeon saw this little baby, He knew that the time had come. God had revealed the Messiah to him in the person of the infant Jesus. So Simeon took our Lord into His arms, and said “Lord, now you are letting your servant go in peace, according to your Word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people. A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
It’s all about perspective, dear friends in Christ. It’s all about how you look at things. For the people of Jesus’ day, most of them saw a little baby from a poor family. They couldn’t even afford a lamb for the sacrifice, so they had to bring two turtledoves! They were the lower element in society. But it was not so for Simeon. What he saw when he held the infant Jesus in his arms was God in the flesh. He saw the salvation of God come down to visit His people. Simeon saw in that little child life itself, eternal life for him and for all of the people of God.
So then let’s ask the question: what do you see when you come to church? Do you see a pretty building with lovely flowers and a manger scene? Do you see people you know and don’t know, like and don’t like? Do you see Laws and obligations and trials? When you come to this place, what do you see? God wants you to see what Simeon saw according to the Word of God. God wants you to see with your ears, if you can believe it. For looks can be deceiving. What your eyes see is sinners, brick and mortar, bread and wine. But what you see by faith in this place is far, far greater. For with Simeon, here you see the very Word made flesh for you. Jesus says to you this day, This is my body, this is my blood, given for the forgiveness of your sins. What you see here in this place is no less than the very gate of heaven, and eternal life coming into your flesh and blood.
Hard to believe, isn’t it? It’s hard to believe that anyone would stay away from such a place, isn’t it? Can you imagine knowing that the almighty God is coming down by His Word to this very place, and not coming? Yet that is sadly what often happens. We all make decisions about whether to come to church or not, whether to make it a priority or not.
But rather than blast away with the Law, God gently and continually comes down to this place. Day after day, week after week, year after year he comes. He comes for you. He comes to forgive your sins and to carry you home to be with Him in heaven. His love and patience knows no bounds.
This is one of the many reasons why our Lord came to earth as a little baby. He does not want you to be afraid of Him, but to take Him into your lap and, if you will, make Him a part of your family. For our Lord longs to be with you, to take your sins into Himself, and for you to worship Him as He truly is.
This Christmastide we remember the saints of old like Simeon and Anna and all the others in these familiar stories who had perspective. Here in the church, it is not simply a matter of diversity and differences of opinion. It is the difference between the perspective of faith and of unbelief. God grant you the perspective to see what is truly important in your life, and to look with the eyes of Simeon. For your eyes have seen His salvation in the person of Jesus Christ, the infant God.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.