"Would You Recognize Christ If You Saw Him?"
Would you recognize Christ if you saw Him? Now that is an interesting question, isn’t it? After all, what is one baby among so many? Don’t they all look alike? If nobody told you who the baby was or who the parents were, would you know this child? Here is the marvel and miracle of Simeon. The baby Jesus, according to our text for this morning, is only forty days old. Simeon had never met the baby’s parents. Yet, in this baby, Simeon recognized the Messiah. How many see Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and the Savior? What does one have to have to recognize the Christ in this child Jesus? That my friends, is the question we will consider this morning, The first Sunday after Christmas, the dawn of a New Year – January 1, 2012.
To recognize the Christ in Jesus there are three things that are necessary.
1 To recognize the Christ we must first look for Him in hope. Listen to verse 25 of Luke’s Gospel Now there was in Jerusalem a man called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him…"
Simeon had looked for the Savior’s coming for many a year. We have witnessed His coming and we anticipate His Second Coming on the last great day. Like Simeon, we need to look for Him in a hope that He will come at just the right time. As He came the first time at just the right time, he will also come again in glory at just the right time. There is still a time for us to wait for Jesus. It is not in the anticipation of the celebration at Christmas but rather it is in living in anxious expectation for Him to return at just the right time to take us to be with Him in glory. Like Simeon Live in that hope.
2 To recognize the Christ we must live close to God. Luke tells us something about Simeon’s character. He was "…righteous and devout…" (v.25)
The Old Testament lesson for today (Isaiah 45:22-25) tells us to "turn." (v.22) This is a common word in the Old Testament. Often it is used as "return". It means to repent, to change one’s mind, and make an about face from serving Satan to serving God.
To turn indicates that a person has sinned by going away from God, by being faithless in serving false gods and rebelling against the true God. To turn means grace. God asks us to come back to Him and if we do, there is forgiveness and acceptance. Simeon remains for us an excellent role model of what it means to remain faithful. It does not mean that one remains perfect in every respect but rather that we see in Christ the reason for our salvation and then in repentance and faith we turn to Him for life. That’s what it means to be devout. That’s what it means to live close to God. To have our focus on Christ is what is needed today.
3 To recognize the Christ we must be led of the Spirit. Luke tells us in verse 27 & 28: "Move by the Spirit, he went to the temple courts…and took the child in his arms…"
Simeon was a Spirit possessed man. He did not have to wait until Pentecost to get the Spirit. This reminds us that the Spirit is as old as God is, for the Spirit is God Himself. When and how Simeon received the Spirit, we do not know. It is enough that we see that the spirit possessed Simeon, for the Holy Spirit gave him the revelation that the baby Jesus was the Christ. The Holy Spirit inspired him to enter the temple at just the right time to see and behold Jesus. Likewise the same Spirit has directed you to behold this baby and for you to recognize Him as the Christ.
Having seen the Christ Simeon was now ready to depart from this world in peace. Simeon was now ready and content to die. He was willing to depart this life because he had received his wish to see the promised Messiah. In every person’s death, there is the time when the dying person accepts the reality and necessity of death, and then is ready to go. For Simeon, death had no terror because he, having seen Christ, was sure of his salvation. You and I have seen the Lord’s salvation as well. For us the future has no terror because we have seen the Lord’s Christ and thus we too are assured of our salvation.
May the prayer of Simeon be our prayer too as we have said farewell to 2011 and hello to 2012. Having witnessed Christ, we are now free to face the future with the same assurance as Simeon. We can be at peace for God is at peace.