Monday, December 26, 2011

God's grace personified in Christmas

Luke 2:29-32 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; 30For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.”

The joy of unwrapped presents
I'm sure many of you reading today's blog have experienced the joy that follows the unwrapping of that favorite gift.  Seeing the very things you had been anticipating for weeks and months evoked an eruption of joy once you opened and unwrapped the treasures under the tree.  No doubt this is in a very small way pictures the type of emotions that welled up in Simeon when he beheld the Christ child.

The song that speaks of sweet release and fulfillment of God's promises
It has been eight days, and Mary and Joseph brought their son, Jesus, to the temple to have performed upon him the rites of the Old Testament circumcision.  From the very beginning of Christ's birth, the theme of fulfillment marks his life: fulfillment of prophecy, time and the law.  Themes such as these would accompany Him 33 years later to the cross.  In the Latin text the name of Simeon's prophecy is referred to as "nunc dimittis" (now release). 

The significance of Simeon's words
I love this title for it signifies the release from the confines of something.  The Lord had given Simeon a word that his life would not expire until He saw the salvation of Israel.  As in all of the five songs recorded here in Luke 2 and 3, this fourth song carries with it tremendous scriptural gold that points to Christ's identity as revealed by God's grace:

1. God's Grace brings freedom.  When Simeon saw the Christ child, he was "released".  When you and I by faith behold the Lord, we are set free.  We are free to truly fulfill everything God calls us to do when He is brought to us by the working of grace in our hearts by the Spirit of God. 

2. God's Grace brings faith  How did Simeon know this was the One whom He was looking for?  The text states in Luke 2:29 - "according to your word".  It is the word of God that the Holy Spirit uses to bring the faith needed to trust and rely upon the Savior. (Romans 10:17)

3. God's Grace goes from being a principle to a Person. Up until we are brought into contact with Christ by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit through the gospel, God's grace is a principle that we have heard about.  However Simeon beholds the very Promise that centuries had been predicted by the Old Testament Prophets.  God's Grace had truly appeared.   Grace goes from being a principle to a person; from a power of God working towards men to becoming a Person who would dwell among men.   

4. God's grace brings light into darkness  As Simeon rounds out this portion of His prophecy, He quotes from Isaiah 9:2.  In that same chapter we are given information regarding the human and Divine natures of the Messiah. (Isaiah 9:6-7)  God would send His Son into this world to bring light into the darkness of sinful man.  Unfortunately man unaided by grace shrinks from the light, and is not able nor desirous of receiving it (John 1:3-11). 

5. God's grace enables to hear God and believe.  Simeon, the speaker of this prophecy, has a name whose meaning is: "to hear God".  Though we never hear of this precious old saint of God ever again, the one thing he is noted for is that he not only heard God, he saw Him!  In human flesh He saw the creator of worlds. 

Would it be dear friend that the world's memory of you and I would be that we are people who heard and saw God by faith and yearned to live out the last of our lives to see Christ cherished by those around us.