LOOKING FOR CHRISTMAS

READ: LUKE 2:28-3

INTRODUCTION:

      A. We all know that kids have a hard time waiting for Christmas.

            1. Admittedly, whether you are an adult or a kid, it can be difficult? Sometimes we adults act like children when it to comes to Christmas.

      B. Let me ask you some questions?

            1. What are you hoping and waiting for this Christmas?

            2. What are you expecting to receive? Are you looking forward to some-thing special this Christmas?

      C. In our text we read about two people who made their appearance in the final acts of the Christmas drama recorded in Luke chapter 2.

            1. One is a man named Simeon; the other is a woman named Anna.

            2. Have you noticed that they don’t appear in any nativity scenes or in many if any Christmas cards, but they are significant players in the first Christ-mas pageant?

            3. Both of these individuals were waiting for something — actually, they were waiting for someone.

      D. Luke uses the Greek word for anticipation (pros-dekh’-om-ahee), which identifies them as waiting with confidence for the coming of the Messiah.

            1. We see this Greek word in Luke 2:25 in reference to Simeon where we read that “He was waiting…” and in Luke 2:38 to describe a woman named Anna who was, “…looking forward to…”         

            2. It literally means that they were “alert and confident of His appear-ance, and ready to welcome Him.”

I. Simeon WAS Waiting For Comfort

      A. We’re introduced to Simeon in Luke 2:25. “Now 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.”

            1. Simeon was righteous before people, and he was devout in His relationship with God.

      B. Things hadn’t been going well for the nation of Israel for centuries.

            1. In fact, they hadn’t heard from God for 400 years and were under Roman rule.

            2. They had lost their political independence and were living in fear of the capable, and cruel King Herod

            3. And many were wondering if the Messiah would ever come. But not Simeon!! WHY WAS SIMEON DIFFERENT??

      C. Simeon had good reason for his hope and anticipation:

Luke 2:26 “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

            1. Simeon’s expectation focused on the comfort that Christ would bring.

            2. Among the Jews of Simeon’s day one of the popular titles of Messiah was Comforter.

            3. Like some of the Christmas songs we sing, they were longing for the Messiah to come and bring His comfort to them.

The desire to be comforted is a universal human need. We all struggle with lone-liness, emptiness, insecurity, even desperation. In fact, the Christmas season is one of the major crisis times of the year for depression and suicide.

      D. The Holy Ghost prompted Simeon to go to the temple courts at just the right time, on just the right day that Joseph and Mary were bringing the infant Christ Child to the Temple.

            1. When Simeon looked at the baby Jesus, (now about 6 weeks old), he knew that God’s promise had been kept.

            2. Here was Immanuel, “God With Us,” who was to make everything right, to provide significance again for the Jews by His presence, and to eliminate their rejection, fear, and loneliness.

            3. Simeon reached down and took Jesus out of Mary’s arms and began to praise God.

Luke 2:28-32 “Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”

 Let me pause here and ask those who are parents, How would you feel if some old man came up to you, took your infant in his arms and started singing out loud?”

                 a. I’m sure this was a bit unsettling for Joseph and Mary. But Simeon didn’t look all that dangerous.

            1. As he broke out in praise, he acknowledged that God had not only fulfilled the individual promise to him, but also the promises of the prophets to send the Anointed One to comfort both Jews and Gentiles.

      E. The other person waiting with anticipation for the Messiah was the Anna.

            1. She was looking forward to the same person as Simeon, but with a different orientation.

II. Anna WAS Waiting foR REDEMPTION

      A. Instead of looking for comfort, as Simeon, Anna was looking for forgiveness.

Luke 2:38 “And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption [forgiveness] in Jerusalem.”

The word redemption is related to the idea of captivity. The Old Testament Passover and the release of Israel from Egyptian slavery stood in Anna’s day as the ultimate redemption and the symbol of God’s power to release captives. Ultimately, Passover pointed ahead to that day when God would provide true deliverance – deliverance from the slavery of sin.

      B. After her husband died, Anna dedicated herself to fasting, and praying.  

Luke 2:37 “And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which de-parted not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”

            2. When Anna saw Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, she gave thanks to God and spoke “of Him to all who were waiting for redemption.”

                 a. For Anna, there at last was the One who would save His people from their sins.

III. THE COMING OF Jesus still Provides What man Needs

      A. When Jesus came He provided the very things that Simeon and Anna were waiting for — God’s comfort and His forgiveness.

            1. Let me ask you a question: What are you really in need of this Christ-mas? Is it spiritual, emotional, or physical? Whatever it is, Jesus can give it to you.

      B. Can any of you identify with Simeon this Christmas season?

            1. Are you, like so many who, are really hurting right now? You feel lonely, empty, afraid, and maybe maxed out.

            2. In these uncertain economical times, do you need some comfort, or a little consoling that God is in control of your life and will take care of you?

            3. Do you need a fresh sense of God’s presence?

            4. If so, you can find what you’re looking for in Jesus. He came to console us right where we are.

      C. Maybe you identify more with Anna.

            1.  Are you plagued with guilt this Christmas because of something you’ve done or the way you’ve been living?

            2. Do you feel like you’re trapped in a pattern of sin or addiction that you can’t break out of?

            3. If you need forgiveness, Jesus can give it to you today. I can think of no better time than this Christmas season to do just that

IV. Steps OTHERS have TAKEN AT CHRISTMAS

      A. There are three action steps to be gleaned from this passage that will help you experience God’s comfort and forgiveness this Christmas.

      B. Step #1 – Become a “marveler” like Joseph and Mary.

            1. When Joseph and Mary tried to process everything that was happen-ing, they “marveled” at what was said about Jesus.

Luke 2:33 “And Joseph and His mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of Him.”

      2. According to the dictionary, to become a “marveler” is to be filled with wonder, astonishment, and surprise.

            a. Will you be a marveler this Christmas? Or, will you be too caught up in the busyness and stress of the season?

            b. Have you already started running around because of the Holidays, or are you taking the time to make Christmas a “holy” day?

            c. Has Christmas for you become too predictable, too familiar? Have you heard the Christmas story so much that it no longer overwhelms you?

            d. There is a danger that our customary celebration of Christmas in the giving and receiving of gifts can immunize us to its reality.

            e. We hear just enough of the story each year to inoculate us against the real thing, so that we never really catch the true Christmas passion.

Here’s an idea that may help you recapture the marvel of Christmas. Pick one of the Christmas characters and put yourself in their sandals. Imagine what it must have been like to witness the Christmas story first hand. Go ahead; pick one — Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, Simeon, Anna, or the Wise Men.

      C. Step #2 – Become a “mover” like Simeon and Anna

           1. Both Simeon and Anna were movers. When the Holy Spirit prompted them to move, they didn’t sit still.

Luke 2:27 “And he (Simeon) came by the Spirit into the temple:.,”

Luke 2:38 “And she (Anna) coming in that instant [moment] gave thanks likewise unto the Lord,…”

I wonder what would have happened if they had not responded? Actually, come to think of it, every one of the Christmas characters responded to the Spirit’s leading ­with the exception of Herod.

            2. Mary was ready to move when she said to the angel, “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 2:38)

            3. Joseph demonstrated that he was a mover when he woke up from his dream and “…did what the angel of the Lord had commanded and took Mary home as his wife.” (Matthew 1:24)

            4. The Shepherds were movers as well when they said, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened…” (Luke 2:15)

            5. The wise men saw the star and moved out of their comfort zone to find the King of Christmas.

      D. When God prompts you to do something, then you need to do it. It might mean salvation for you or some of your family or friends.

           1. It might mean full surrender for others as well as for you.

           2. Or, maybe the Spirit wants you to be more involved in serving people.

           3. Do you sense Him asking you to do something today? Are you a mover? Are you willing to move?

           4. Don’t procrastinate when God prompts you to do something — you may miss out on a miracle this Christmas.

           5. What Simeon told Mary about Jesus must have taken her breath away.

 Luke 2:34 “…this child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will spoken against…”

That’s not really a joyful Christmas greeting, is it? Simeon is not saying, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” Rather, he pauses, clears his throat and tells her that Christmas will never be merry and the New Year will never be happy until people get moving and surrender their lives to Christ.

      E. Since Jesus has entered the world, He has divided the human race; splitting them in two camps.

            1. Jesus has caused the falling and rising of many. How you ask?

                  a. Because of who Jesus is and what He came to do, He forces people to make a decision about Him.

            2. The Bible uses powerful imagery; ­ Jesus is either a rock that you build your life upon (that’s the sense of rising), OR he’s the Rock that you stumble over (that’s the meaning of falling).

      F. Jesus is constantly calling each of us to spiritual and moral decisions, and ­ based upon our willingness to move and respond, we will either rise or fall.

         1. You can’t stay neutral about Jesus; you are either for Him or against Him.

         2. You’re moving closer to Him, or further away. You either have the Son or you don’t.

      G. Step #3 – Is to Become a Messenger

Luke 2:38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”

            1. Do you have family and friends who are caught up in the customary preparations for Christmas?

            2. Is it possible that deep within them are longings that really represent an inner search for comfort and forgiveness — those things that only He, the Messiah, can provide?

            3. God wants each one of us to become messengers of the Christmas story.

Conclusion:

     A. As you and I become marvelers, the wonder of Christmas will astonish us.

           1. Then, as we become movers, our needs for comfort and forgiveness will be met.

           2. As we take our role as messengers seriously, we’ll be in a position to introduce others to the Christ of Christmas — so that they in turn can find what they have been looking and waiting for.

      B. Christmas is a marvelous, moving, message of God love! It’s only in knowing Him and His love that we can find what we’ve been looking for.

            1. How can we keep quiet about it? Once you have the Son, you have everything. Read the following story and allow it to speak to you:

Whoever Takes the Son

Many years ago, there was a very wealthy man who shared a passion for art collecting with his son. They had priceless works by Picasso and Van Gogh adorning the walls of their family estate.

As winter approached, war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram. His son had died.

Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season had vanished with the death of his son.

On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man. As he walked to the door, the masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. As he opened the door he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hands who said, “I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you.”

The soldier mentioned that he was an artist and then gave the old man the pack-age. The paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man’s son. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the young man’s face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the man hung the portrait over the fireplace, pushing aside millions of dollars worth of art. His task completed, the old man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given.

The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the pieces of art for which museums around the world clamored.

The following spring, the old man died. The art world waited with anticipation for the upcoming auction. According to the will of the old man, all the art works would be auctioned on Christmas Day, the day he had received the greatest gift.

The day soon arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world’s most spectacular paintings. Dreams would be fulfilled that day.

The auction began with a painting that was not on anyone’s museum list. It was the painting of the man’s son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid, but the room was silent. “Who will open the bidding with $100?” No one spoke. Finally someone said, “Who cares about that painting. It’s just a picture of his son. Let’s move on to the good stuff.”

The auctioneer responded, “No, we have to sell this one first. Now, who will take the son?” Finally, a neighbor of the old man offered $10 dollars. “That’s all I have. I knew the boy, so I’d like to have it.”

The auctioneer said, “Going once, going twice…gone.” The gavel fell.

Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, “Now we can bid on the real treasures!”

The auctioneer looked at the room filled with people and announced that the auction was over. Everyone was stunned. Someone spoke up and said, “What do you mean, it’s over? We didn’t come here for a painting of some-one’s son. There is millions of dollars worth of art here! What’s going on?”

The auctioneer replied, “It’s very simple. According to the will of the Father, whoever takes the son…gets it all.”

Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? The message is the same this Christmas. Because of the Father’s love…whoever takes the Son gets it all.

Will you take Him this Christmas?

You’re invited to a birthday party this Christmas. It’s the birthday of Jesus.

It’s His party ­but He wants to give you a present. He wants to give you the gift of Himself. Will you take Him? �x

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