By Verse : Luke 2:22-4- key vs 22-24 Topic :

MY EYES HAVE SEEN YOUR SALVATION

This morning is the last Sunday of the old year as well as the last day of 2017. At midnight tonight, those of you who might be brave enough to stay awake that long will welcome in the new year. The old will be gone with all the things that happened and you look forward to the new that God brings.
So, it is with this mornings three witnesses found in the book of Luke the second chapter. With the birth of Jesus accomplished, it really was only the shepherds who had the privilege of being first to see the new born baby. Not much else is said except that they not only were the first to see God’s Son on this earth, but they were the first evangelists to spread the good news of his birth. Luke, in his orderly account writes, “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”
It still boggles my mind that the birth of God’s Son went off without a hitch. Think of it, no one seemed to have known. It might be possible that the innkeeper found out, but it doesn’t say he knew. Not one other person knew at that moment that Jesus was born until the shepherds arrived at the manger. And those they told? They didn’t rush off to see what the shepherds said was true. But they were amazed at what they heard. You know, that could be a sermon on its own. You hear the story, are amazed by what is said, yet, you don’t take action. Isn’t that what they did?
However, many miles away three wise scholars were doing what they always did, studying the stars and I would think whatever they could about this world. Three fellows maybe from the same region, maybe from different parts of the area, had one thing in common. They saw a bright new star in the sky that stood out above all the rest. That star got their attention and they began to research the meaning of the new star and found it signified a new king had been born. Matthew lets us in on their discovery in his gospel in chapter two as they arrived in Jerusalem searching for the one who had been born King of the Jews. It is recorded, “After Jesus was born in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem asking, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
Folks, this journey to Jerusalem must have taken a long time by camel. I’m sure they never broke the speed limit and had to stop often. Can you picture those three wise men bouncing up and down on that camel all those miles? I bet they stopped as often as they could to rest their weary bones. During their travels somehow the three came together at the same area and shared their findings and decided to travel together to find the new born king.
Here is another thing as well. Matthew says they came ‘to worship him.’ Once again, we are faced with the question who else knew of Jesus’ birth by now? After all he might have been two or three by this time for it has been said it could have taken that long for the wise men to make that long journey. And when they got there, and they asked the people how to find their new king, their question fell on deaf ears. No one had a clue.
So, our wise men came seeking, but could not find, dejected, but still focusing, Matthew said they went on their way still following the star until they came to where Jesus was, and they knelt and worshipped him. Their journey to find Jesus was completed, and guess what. They went home another way. Sure, they traveled a different route so as not to see King Herod and tell him where Jesus was, because, being the king Herod was afraid he would be replaced so he wanted to find Jesus to destroy him. But more importantly, though they gave their gifts to Jesus, Jesus gave them a better gift. He gave them the gift of new life, as their hearts were strangely warmed. And this one act must have bonded these three wise men for life as they traveled home taking just as long to get home as it was to come here, stopping at each place, sharing their story on the way. “We’ve a story to tell to the nations,” they could have said, “a story that will turn their hearts to the right, a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light.” Like the shepherds, they became evangelists to the world.
Then we turn to two folks we don’t hear much about until this time of year. One is Simeon. He is old, been coming to the temple for years. Luke describes him “There was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.”
Do you like that phrase? He was “Moved by the Spirit.” I think it is great. What is his story? Well, Luke says “On the eight days, when it was time to circumcise Mary and Joseph’s son, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was born. When the time of their purification…. had been completed, Mary and Joseph took him to present him to the Lord, and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with the Law of the Lord.”
Then we read about Simeon, moved by the Spirit, who was at the temple that day, who was always looking for the child that was promised. Well this day, because he was moved by the Spirit, when he saw Mary and Joseph with this little baby, somehow, someway, we might say moved by the Spirit, he went and had the boldness to say to Mary and Joseph, “May I hold your child for a moment?” Smiling as Mary handed Jesus to Simeon, Simeon unwraps her baby, looks into the very face of God, and moved by the Spirit, he smiles, he laughs, maybe even does a little dance because he is so excited because he knows this child he is holding is none other than the promised Messiah. If this was a Hollywood production we might say when Simeon looked into the face of God, he winked. But that would be only Hollywood. Simeon holds him close to his breast, perhaps even kissing him on the forehead, and praising God that his old eyes were allowed to see the heaven-sent deliver of his people. Raising his eyes toward heaven Simeon prays with a thankful heart, “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Handing back the baby to Mary, Simeon blesses them. And watching them move on, not able to take his eyes off of them, he looks toward heaven and says, “Now, God, you can take me home, for I have seen your Son, my deliver, my salvation, and the salvation of the world.” Who knows how many people heard his praises that day in the temple. Again, a witness that the Messiah had come and the story is told once again.
Mary and Joseph pushed on through the crowd still wondering about their meeting with Simeon, puzzled by what just happened when they run into a woman named Anna, who was 84 and had been a widow for many years and spent every day of her life at the temple. Luke says, “Anna never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.”
As Mary and Joseph pondered Simeon’s reaction, they came face to face with this widow who was looking their way, and who held out her arms to embrace the baby Mary was carrying. Taking a few steps toward the couple, Luke records what happened. “Coming up to them, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
What does this have to do with us today? Good question. The church is entering the season of Epiphany, or revealing. This morning we have seen that revealing of who this baby was in at least four people. The shepherds, the magi, Simeon and the widow Anna. Each one came face to face with God’s Son when he was a baby and a child. No earth shaken miracles yet have happened. He hasn’t walked on the water just yet, nor has he turned water into wine. We might say he hasn’t even spoken an earthly word yet. He hasn’t touched a leper and made him well, nor has he given sight to a blind man. He doesn’t even have a following, just these 4 groups of people who were blessed, and as we’ve read, who have been ‘moved by the Spirit’ to understand that the salvation of the world had come into the world on the day that Jesus was born.
While there might have been many babies being circumcised that day in the temple only one who was held up by the high priest and dedicated to God was the true Messiah, the gift of God who had come to this world, and those who beheld him, those whom God revealed his Son, worshiped and an adored him. And think of it. Those who circumcised Jesus, those who helped Mary in the purification rites HAD NO IDEA WHO THAT BABY WAS THAT THEY WERE HOLDING BECAUSE THEY HAD NOT BEEN MOVED BY THE SPIRIT! They were spiritually blind, it seems!
While others seemed to have no clue of who this baby was, not the priests, not King Herod, not the others that were in the temple, magi came to worship and gave him gifts and went to tell their story. The shepherds who came and bowed in adoration returned to their sheep and began their journey to other places telling the story of what had happened the night that Jesus was born. And Simeon, I can picture him now, sitting down to rest, smiling, praising God for allowing him in his old age to feast his eyes on this baby, who was no ordinary baby but God’s Son. He perhaps stopped each person who went by trying to tell his story. And if anyone sat beside him, well, they got an earful. Not that they believed, but because Simeon was so blessed, he was spreading the good news to all who would listen, and I image to those who just brushed him off. His theme, his message, “My eyes have seen your salvation. Go and seek him for yourself.” And when others asked Simeon why he had the smile on his face all the time, he would perhaps answer, “Let me tell you about the moment I held the Christ child and he smiled at me and gave me peace. God is here. God is here in this temple. He is here living amongst us. Hope has come at last. God has heard our prayers and sent the deliverer like he did to our ancestors in Egypt.”
Then we have Anna, a widow who had never left the temple. Now 84 years young, being blessed to behold that child that she had been praying and fasting to come to her people. And like Simeon, she was blessed to see and hold him and even touch his face, and even kissing his forehead. And like Simeon, she told her story over and over again.
And Mary? Well she pondered all these things in her heart as she and Joseph left the temple and headed home to raise this child that has been worshiped and adored. What had been promised has now come true. What has been promised now lives in the hearts of those to whom he has been revealed.
We’ve heard the story. Many are living proof of the story. Our spiritual eyes of our heart have embraced the child that came to bring salvation and a new beginning to those who receive him
The Christmas season has come to an end, but the Christ of the story enters the new year to prepare for each of us the way. Behold our salvation. May we be moved by His Spirit today and forever.
So, may it be this morning.

Happy birthday Judy Krell

Happy birthday Judy Krell

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