Luke 2: 22-32 – Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.
Dear Friends in Christ,
I can remember in high school really looking forward to high school graduation and going off to college and finding a beautiful woman who would be willing to marry me and thinking to myself that would be enough. And then once Debi and I were married and living happily ever after, I can remember looking forward to Debi giving birth to our firstborn Heather and thinking to myself that would be enough. And as the years went on, I can remember looking forward to Heather and then Nate going off to kindergarten and then looking forward to their first children’s Christmas services / first basketball games / confirmations and thinking to myself that would be enough. And then as the years went on, I can remember thinking how cool it would be when our kids found their partners for life and that would be enough. And if we could hold our first grandchild in our arms, surely that would be enough. And eleven grandchildren and nine years later, on Christmas Day just a couple of days ago, our baby boy Noah raises a drink to toast the Griffin family Christmas and he says a few nice words about being home for the holidays, and then before we know it, he pulls a ring out of his pocket and gets down on one knee and asks his beautiful girlfriend to spend the rest of her life with him. And with tears in her eyes, she says yes. And I say to Debi- here is the last piece of the puzzle in place and so we look forward to November 7, 2015 when all four of our children will be living happily ever after in married bliss, and surely that will be enough. Will that be the day when Debi and I will say with Simeon- now Lord, I’m ok with dying and going to heaven? Will that be enough? Or will we start yearning for semi-retirement and to snow bird status and then full retirement where we can truly be happy and spend our gray hair years watching over grandchildren and playing golf and resting from our labors?
Did you notice what was missing from all those questions? Like the Name of Jesus Christ the Lord? The question I put before you today is simple, “Is Jesus Enough For You?” Is it sufficient for you to know, as Isaiah writes, that God has clothed you with the garments of salvation, and that he has covered you with the robe of righteousness? Is it enough for you to know what Paul writes to the Galatians, you are sons and daughters of your Father in heaven and that you can cry out to your dad above any time you want to? Is it enough for you to taste the very forgiveness of sins in your Lord’s Supper, and every time walk away saying with Simeon, “I can die and go to heaven now.”
Two lessons we want to learn again from Simeon today, in answer the question, “Is Jesus Enough For You?” The first lesson we learn about the secret of contentment from Simeon is the importance of a strong relationship with the Holy Spirit. In verse 25 we read that the Holy Spirit was resting on him.” In verse 26, we read and that it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And in verse 27, Luke records that “guided by the Holy spirit, he came into the temple.”
The challenging thing about the Holy Spirit is that it is always moving and changing. He is like a wind blowing or a fire burning or water pouring. Later in Luke’s Gospel, John the Baptist tells people that Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. When we are touched by or filled with the Holy Spirit we are changed. And as the Holy Spirit continues to work in our lives, we continue to change.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t just grow us in the faith in good and pleasant times. He is working inside us and teaching us in the bad and the ugly, as well. Paul wrote that he had learned how to be content in whatever situation….I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
The second lesson we learn from Simeon about Christian contentment is to stay thankful for the salvation God has provided, no matter where the ups and downs of life may take us. The day after Christmas, my two sons and two sons-in-law had a guys afternoon out. An afternoon which included the movie “Unbroken.” It’s based on a true story about an Olympic athlete named Louis Zamperini whose bomber was downed in WWII, who survived on a raft for 47 days, who endured unbelievable torture in Japanese war camps and lived to tell about it. I highly recommend the movie to you, especially if you’re thinking these days that your life is pretty difficult and you’re not quite sure if you can keep going. I came out of the movie feeling like a Pillsbury Doughboy who ought never utter a single complaint again, ever again.
Feeling thankful for the sacrifices others have made on my behalf, and especially the once and for all sacrifice offered up on a little hill outside of Jerusalem. I have two sons and I can’t imagine sacrificing either one of them up on a cross. When the time was just right, as you well know, God offered up as a bloody sacrifice His only begotten and beloved Son so that we could claimed as His very own. So that we could cry out “abba, father” anytime of the day seven days a week. Oh that the Holy Spirit would give us the heart of Simeon and Anna this very day. The heart that stays thankful as often as we take up in our arms the Child Jesus, as often as we see with our eyes the beauty of His peace, as often as we taste with our lips the very body and blood of our Savior.
For Simeon, it was enough to see and hold onto and treasure the baby Jesus. To know that His soul had been redeemed and that his death would be a gateway into the pleasures of paradise. It was enough for Simeon even though he knew that this Child was appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel. Even though he knew that this humble birth was a sign of foreboding. Even though he knew that many Jews would rise and fall as they met Jesus. That He would be a stumbling block to everyone, including his own disciples and family. That his ministry would be controversial and His Kingdom would be different than that which was expected.
To be able to see and hold this child in his arms was enough for Simeon, even though Mary and the entire nation of Israel would feel the pain of Jesus’ own words and crucifixion. Mary herself would be pierced by Jesus’ teaching especially when he speaks about blood relationships giving way to the new family of the church. From this point on, the preaching of Jesus would be his sword of revelation. It would cut through Israel and produce total misunderstanding and ignorance by everyone concerning his person and destiny. It would start out rocky in the little town of Nazareth and get worse from that point on. The words and actions of Jesus would cause huge upheavals and the hearts of many will be revealed, to this very day.
My college freshman roommate was the son of a Finnish Lutheran preacher and a colorful kind of a guy. One of his favorite sayings was, “I can die and go to heaven now!” He would see a beautiful girl walking across campus and say, “I can die….” He would hear a great song at a concert or eat what he thought was a perfect cheeseburger and French fry meal and say, “I can die and go to heaven now!” In Keith’s case, he was just kidding, and he was and is a strong Christian man who knows very well what we all want to learn again today- that the true comfort and the lasting joy of Christmas is not complicated at all.
The kingdom of God is like a large congregation in a small town that is getting Christmas right in ever increasing measure this year. They are understanding that the family coming home and the cousins bonding well and the wonderful time they have in giving and receiving gifts is secondary and not primary. They are learning again that real Christmas comfort is in sincere repentance and all that follows. That genuine Christmas joy is found in the preaching and hearing and holding onto of God’s Word. That the peace which prosperity and success and family and marriage can give is here today but gone tomorrow, in contrast to that peace which only Jesus can give. They are finding that as often as they spend time in the sanctuary worshiping as they are waiting, worshiping as they are waiting, that a spirit of contentment is rising up on their inside. And if you were to ask them how they can stay grateful even though life is so full of trouble, they look you in the eyes and say in one way or another that Jesus is enough. And even though they are looking forward to all kinds of good stuff here and now, if they were to depart, it would be in peace.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther