The Gospel of Luke: A Savior Appointed to Death – Luke 2:25-35

A message of February 17, 2019 from Asst. Pastor Travis Jackson:

We are slowly making our way the Gospel of Luke. We have been learning about two birth narratives. The first birth narrative was about John the Baptist which is found in Luke chapter one. The second birth narrative is about Jesus Christ that is found in chapter one and two. These two birth narratives were written for learners like us to understand the purpose of John the Baptist birth and life; and Jesus incarnation, birth, death, and resurrection.

Chapter one informs us about John the Baptist. We know that John the Baptists was chosen by God to be the forerunner of Jesus and he proclaimed that salvation is only available in Christ alone. In chapter two, Luke, the writer of this gospel, focus his attention on the incarnation and birth of Jesus. Jesus incarnation and birth is an incomprehensible divine transcendent truth. The Word of God became flesh and dwelt in human form (cf. John 1:14); and was born of a virgin. After Mary gave birth to Jesus, God sent an angel to present good news to shepherds that “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” was born in the city of Bethlehem. And on that night angels praised God for that Savior, namely Jesus.

From last Sunday we learned that this Savior upheld God’s law with perfect obedience (Galatians 4:4). God gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision; circumcision served as an outward expression of God choosing Israel to be his people. Circumcision is no longer physical expression, but it is a spiritual one because circumcised is not of the flesh but of the heart (Romans 2:28). Lastly, circumcision also represented the need to be cleansed from sin, but Jesus was sinless (Hebrews 4:15). He did not need to be circumcised, however, this Savior submitted to circumcision to fulfill the law or righteousness (cf. Romans 9:31).

Luke 2:11 says “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior.” And God has always been a Savior. He has always redeemed His people. When there was a global flood He saved the human race from extinction by saving Noah and his family. He saved Israel out of the hands of the Egyptians. According to the book of Judges, He saved Israel from deferent rulers that oppressed them. In Isaiah 43:3, Isaiah says, “For I am the Lord your God the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” “[He is] the Lord and beside me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11).

God had made many promises and he has kept all of them, according to His Word. The number one promise that is repeated in Scripture is the promise that He would send His Son, the Messiah, and Savior, into the world. After the fall of man, God promised to send a Savior (Genesis. 3:15) and this Savior was born under the Law (Galatians 4:4); and this Savior will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

For our study this morning, we will learn about a revealed revelation concerning this Savior. This revelation was foretold since the beginning of Biblical history. This revelation was foreknown in the mind of God. This revelation was predetermined to happen according to God’s perfect will. This revealed revelation is about A Savior Appointed to Death. This is exactly what Simeon, the person we will soon learn about, said in verse thirty-four. He said, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many” (Luke 2:34).

Speaking of Simeon, there is little we know about him. He was not a priest if he was Luke would have made that clear to us, as he had done with Zechariah who was a priest. According to Christian legend, people believe that He was the father of Gamaliel but there is no evidence to support this view. In terms of his age, believe he was an elderly man but the text does not explicitly mention that he was… This supposition is based on Anna’s age. She was a prophetess and she was eighty-four years old. You can read of her in verses thirty-six through thirty-eight. So, the assumption is, since she was eighty-four years old, then Simeon must have been an elderly man. However, we do not know his age, leaving one to assume his age. All that is known about him is found in Luke 2:25-35.

In verse twenty-five, the text simply says, “There was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout.” Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous and devout people. Scripture says, “They were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statues of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). Mary and Joseph were righteous and devout people too. I strongly believe the Lord would not have allowed them to be parents of Jesus, God’s only Son if they were not righteous and devout. Mary and Joseph were teenagers at the time they were chosen to be parents of Jesus. Out of all the people that God could have chosen to be the mother, he chose Mary. The righteousness of Mary exceeded all other women, thereby, God chose her to be the mother of Jesus.

He was also devout. Devout means to be godly, in particular, to be a God-fearing person. There was and still is a difference between a God-fearing person and a person who say that they fear God. The Pharisees and Sadducees were perceived to be people who feared God, but they were the ones who crucified God’s only Son, namely Jesus Christ. There were several people like Nicodemus within the ranks of the Pharisees who feared God. The idea Luke is communicating is that a righteous and devout person believes by faith and practices their faith whether it is in public or private. In Matthew 5:20, Jesus said, “For I tell you unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I have a book at home on my shelf and the titled is The Resurrection of Jesus. The author’s name is Pinchas Lapide, he was a Jewish rabbi. In his book, he argues that Jesus’ resurrection is believable because resurrections from the dead were common to the Jewish people. According to him, every Jewish person should believe in resurrections, but the reason many Jewish people do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah is that Israel was never liberated from the Romans nor did Jesus inaugurated the kingdom of God on earth during his public ministry. Pinchas Lapide said, I quote, “I, therefore, can accept neither the messiahship of Jesus for the people of Israel nor the Pauline interpretation of the resurrection of Jesus” [Lapide, p.153]. It is not surprising that he didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Many Jewish people in Paul’s day did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, in fact, Paul did not believe (cf. Acts 26:9) until he was converted to Christianity on the Damascus road.

Nevertheless, Simeon believed and he waited patiently for the coming Messiah, who would bring the “consolation of Israel.” “The consolations of Israel” simply means the fulfillment of Jewish messianic hopes. Simeon was patriotic. He loves the nation of Israel. He desired Israel to be restored as a sovereign nation and he had in mind all the promises that God gave to Abraham and David of how the Messiah would one day provide salvation. That salvation physical and spiritual. Physical salvation from the Romans and spiritual salvation that would awake the hearts and minds of Israel. As Jeremiah says, “[God] will put [His] law within them, and [He] will write it on their hearts. And [He] will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33).

To Simeon, Jesus was the fulfillment of Israel’s hope of consolation. The meaning consolation is to bring comfort, and Jesus was that for Simeon. Simeon saw within Jesus the God of Comfort. In Isaiah 40:1, he writes, “Comfort, Comfort my people, says your God.” In Isaiah 51:12, he wrote, “[I, [God] am He who comforts you.” Have you found comfort in the Lord Jesus? Is He your Consoler.

The notion of God the Holy Spirit revealing the future to people in current times is unbiblical, to say the least. In present times, a lot of spiritual people say that God had revealed what will come to past, or what had happened in the past. Today, everyone is into miracles; everyone is into healing, but preachers who claim that they have the gift of healing never visit hospitals. And everyone is into revealing of prophecies. For example, Harold Camping a radio broadcaster made two predictions about the rapture; about the coming of Christ. His first prediction was in 1994 and the second was in 2011. One of his followers spent over one-hundred thousand dollars on TV ads and billboard ads to warn everyone that May 21, 2011, would be the last day of the world. In the year of 2011 everyone was in pandemonium. Here we are and it is the year of 2019.

It really bothers me whenever a professing false prophet like Harold Camping says, “God’s has a word for you today.” They would say, “God told me to tell you this.” Or, “God spoke to me.” People do not like others speaking for them, how much more does God dislike people speaking for Him especially when he did not give them permission. You and I have to be careful whenever we say that the Lord spoke to me.

The Holy Spirit is not a fortune cookie. He is not a gene in a lamp. He is not a mystical spirit wondering everyone. He is God, the Third Person of the Trinity (cf. Acts 5:3-4). He has allowed Himself known to others to be God. The only way to know God is by faith. “And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists” (Hebrews 11:6). This is the account we about Simeon.

We ought to know by now how active God the Holy Spirit was in the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, and now Simeon. If you recall, the angel Gabriel revealed to Zechariah and Elizabeth that they would bear a son, John the Baptist, and He would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth (Luke 1:15). When the angel visited Mary, he told her that God the Holy Spirit will come upon her, “and the power of the Highest will overshadow you,” so that Jesus could be supplanted inside her womb (Luke 1:35). Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment Mary visited her; and she said to Mary, “Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:41-43). After Zachariah believed in God Word, he mouth was loosened and he was filled with the Holy Spirit and he said, John the Baptist “will be called the prophet of the Most High for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:76). And lastly, Simeon was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Would you like to know something that is significant about being filled with the Holy Spirit? The significance is not that people were filled with the Holy Spirit, it is that God the Holy Spirit came upon them so that He Himself can glorify Christ Jesus. For example, John the Baptist birth, life, and death were pointed towards the glorification of Jesus Christ. Do y’all remember Pastor’s Gus illustration when he used a flashlight and mirror? The activity of God the Holy Spirit is to reflect and shine the spotlight on Jesus.

And since Simeon was endowed with the Holy Spirit, God the Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that “he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” In fact, you ought to know that the meaning of Simeon’s name. There was a tribe called Simeon, so his name was common. However, his names mean “God is listening.” I can image Simeon, a righteous and devout Jew, praying to that God would allow him to see Christ before death and God was listening to him to his prayer because his prayer was granted. The question I would like for you to ask yourself is, how was it possible for Simeon to know when he died? The answer: the Holy Spirit revealed it to him by identifying who the Savior was and still is.

You and I do not know each other well, but there are two facts that I can guarantee about your life and mine:  (1). You and I will die one day, and (2). We do not know how nor when will die. All of us know this to be true. Hebrews 9:27 says “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that come to the judgment.” Ps. 89:48 says, “What man can live and never see death.”

This pious Jew longing to see Jesus. Simeon’s piety forces me to examine my heart of how much I long to see Christ. Psalms 73:25 says, “Who have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” Do you have an unquenchable longing to see Christ, not just in heaven but here on earth too? Is there nothing on earth that you desire besides Christ Jesus.

On that day, He was not only filled with the Holy Spirit, he was also moved by the Holy Spirit to enter the temple. As you read in verse twenty-seven, “And He came in the Spirit into the temple.” That day was an appointed date for him to meet Joseph and Mary in the temple. Pastor John MacArthur said, “The temple, where God met with His people, was a fitting location for Him to providentially arrange for Simeon to meet the God-man, Jesus Christ.”

And he took Jesus into his arms and said, “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 people.”

Acts 26:23 ESV

“…that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

J.I. Packer mentioned the use of signs of which a crucifix portrays Jesus death on the cross but does not illustrate a risen Savior. Abraham’s offering of his son upon an alter foreshadowed how Christ has brought many to himself.

1 Corinthians 1:23

“…but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and Gentiles.” Whenever we preach the gospel.”

Would you offer your child to die to save someone else? No? God did.

Isaiah 53 Suffering servant

His blessing was a revelation of how Jesus was “appointed” to die which was a benefit for all people. His appointment was a sign that is opposed Mary would suffer mentally and emotionally when Jesus was placed upon the cross. In John 19: 25-25He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”

Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?

Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect lamb?

Has your heart been revealed? Christ reveals every person’s heart that they are in need of salvation, although, they do not know that they need to be saved unless their hearts and thoughts are revealed (Luke 2:35). Another way of understanding, he life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only light of salvation that was provided by God the Father to escape the darkness of death; Jesus will bring all people unto himself.

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