Session Goal: To help adults decide to respond to Jesus in faith or, if already a Christian, to agree to help others respond to Him in faith.
Context – Luke 2
The two primary sources for the historical account of the birth of Christ are Matthew and Luke. In these two gospels we have the visitation of regal kings and humble lowly shepherds. When Jesus is presented at the temple according to the Law (Gal. 4:4), two more individuals meet their Redeemer – Simeon and Anna. Their actions suggest to believers today that we have a magnificent Redeemer. While many question the significance of a little child, Luke reveals three important truths why Jesus demands so much attention at Christmas time.
Luke tells us that not everyone was looking for the Christ, only a remnant. The theme is evident in verses 25, 30, and 38. Luke presents the eyewitness testimony of two groups of people, the shepherds and the temple workers. On the basis of these two witnesses, the matter is established and we decide how we will respond to the arrival of God’s Savior.
We have a Redeemer worthy of our Wait (Luke 2:25-26)
Simeon was an aged man that worked in the temple. He was one who was looking for the consolation of Israel. That term refers to the coming Comforter promised in God’s Word (See Is. 11:10, 30:18, and 40:1). He simply trusted in God’s Word and knew that at the appointed time, God would send forth His promised Seed to save mankind.
Simeon was living a blameless life. He was righteous in his dealings with people and devout in his service in the temple. These two attributes are commended throughout Scripture as qualities evident in a believer’s life. Additionally, Simeon was guided by the Holy Spirit. In the midst of 400 years of darkness and deadness, The Holy Spirit has promised this man that he would see the long awaited and promised Messiah. Simeon was faithful to fulfill his vows and serve the Lord despite living in bondage (the Roman government).
Deliverance from the effects of sin is something godly people desire. The Bible teaches that creation waits eagerly for redemption as well (Romans 8:19). Those who wait patiently on the Lord go forth in new strength. None who wait on the Lord will be ashamed (See Gal. 5:5; Ps. 25:3, 5; 27:14; 40:1; 62:1-5). The Lord is faithful to complete what He has started in His time. God’s timing is always perfect. Many believers must learn from Simeon to wait for the Lord to fulfill His promises. A fruit of the Spirit is patience as well.
We have a Redeemer worthy of our Worship (Luke 2:27-35)
Simeon awakes one morning unaware that he would see the Messiah that day. As he is waiting in the temple, Joseph and Mary approach to present Jesus for consecration for service to God (verses 21-24). Simeon immediately begins to praise the Lord and worship God for revealing the Messiah. Notice what Simeon praises God for in verses 29-32.
First, he worships God for his release from bondage. The picture of release for every Jew was of the exodus of Israel from the Egyptian bondage. Simeon expresses his praise for release from the bondage in this world.
Second, Simeon worships God for the peace that he is entering into.
Third, Simeon worships God for the revelation (also light) that God has prepared for all people. It is important to note that while a remnant Jews were waiting for God’s salvation promised in His Word, this revelation was intended for all people. The world lives in the darkness of sin and only the light coming into the world can lead them to God.
The special revelation for Gentiles was because the Jews had already been given the special revelation of God’s promised Seed. God instructed Abraham that He would bless him in order to bless the entire world.
The phrase “Glory of Israel” clarifies the reason why these particular people (nation) were chosen to bring the Messiah (Promised Seed) into the world. (See Psalm 3:3; Zech. 2:5; Is. 49:6; 60:1; and Romans 9:1-5).
Understandably, Joseph and Mary are amazed by Simeon’s comments. However, while this one chooses to worship God, he reveals that not everyone will choose to worship Him. Simeon notes that this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many.
Jesus brings division. To some He is a stone of stumbling; to others He becomes the chief cornerstone (See 1 Peter 2:16).
Jesus is also a source of derision. He is a “sign to be opposed.” People will declare their identity by their reaction to Jesus. How an individual reacts to Jesus reveals or unveils his relationship to God’s Son. This is evident not only in the story of Christ’s birth, but also throughout His ministry.
First, Matthew records that magi (wisemen) came to worship while Herod sought to kill.
Second, Peter repented of his sin while Judas betrayed the Messiah and killed himself.
Third, on the cross, one thief cursed Jesus while the other confessed that He was the Messiah.
We have a Redeemer worthy of our Witness (Luke 2:36-38)
While the interaction between Simeon and His Messiah takes place, another individual approaches. Anna (whose names means grace) meets the Christ-child that she has been waiting for as well. Anna was passionate in her service to God, serving night and day in the temple. She fasted and prayed, seeking the Lord and serving Him. When she finally sees the One who she has patiently waited for, she too praises God and shares this great news with others.
The key phrase is “continued to speak” in verse 38. She does not keep the news of God’s redemption silent. She shares or witnesses of her Redeemer. Her message is that redemption has arrived and deliverance is available. The term for redemption carries the idea of paying a ransom (See Mark 10:45 and 1 Cor. 6:20).
People whose lives have been changed by Jesus are not ashamed to tell others about Him (See Luke 23:51 and Luke 24)! Believers today must have the same zeal to speak of Christ. Just as the shepherds continued to witness of their encounter with Jesus in the countryside (verse 17), so too Anna continues to speak of her encounter in the temple. Let’s put the Christ back in Christmas and tell everyone that He has come and is coming again for His own!
Do you find yourself conflicted at Christmas? How do you keep your focus on the real meaning of the birth and ministry Jesus this time of year?
How would you describe the purpose of Christmas to a person from another culture? How do the ways you celebrate Christmas reflect the purpose you describe?
Where can you turn to find evidence of the saving work Christ came to perform? Who are some people you know who might be seeking that evidence?
How would you have responded if you had been one of the shepherds in the field? What part of the Christmas story amazes you the most? What is the most difficult part of you to understand?
How would you introduce Simeon? What would you include about his declaration about Jesus? What role have the words and thoughts of others played in your life?
How prepared are you to tell what you know about Jesus? What would you say to someone who asked you to explain how knowing Jesus as Savior has affected your life?
How would you characterize the words of Simeon directed toward Mary? How do you think Mary received Simeon’s words? How does the message of Jesus reveal the hearts of people today?
What are some ways you can engage people normally found outside your circle of influence?
How do you respond to the message of Jesus? How does your life reflect your response?
What decision have you made in response to Jesus’ call to faith?