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Text: Luke 2:25-35 Title / Textual Idea: Face to Face With Jesus / This passage records an incredible encounter between

a righteous man named Simeon and the Savior that he was eagerly waiting to see. Dominating Theme: We come face to face with Jesus in the Scriptures. Introduction / Burden: In 1545 the Catholic Church convened what is now referred to as the Council of Trent to decide once and for all what the Catholic Church would in fact believe doctrinally in response to what they considered to be the heresies of the Protestants as put forth by Martin Luther who ultimately died one year into the council. Among the doctrines that were set in stone at that time, was the interesting doctrine of church relics. The doctrine of relics governs the collection, preservation, and ultimately the veneration (worship) of things connected to Jesus, the Apostles, the early saints (Christians), later saints (Catholics), or church leaders. And by things, I mean just about anything and everything associated with them, including their own supposed bones. For example, the Catholic Church in Rome claims to have the very hair of Mary, the mother of Jesus, several locks of it in fact. They claim that they also have her wedding ring and it is kept in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Perugia, Italy. The Cathedral of Prato, in Tuscany claims to have Mary’s “Holy Girdle”, on display for everyone to worship. And that’s not all. One church claims to have the blood of Stephen the martyr. One church claims to have the actual basin used by Christ to wash the disciple’s feet in the upper room. One church thinks they have the spear that pierced the side of Jesus on the cross. The church at Rome claims to have, now get this, a nail from the cross, a piece of the cross, two thorns from the crown of thorns, the greater part of the sponge used to give Christ a drink, a piece of the cross used to murder the “good thief”, the finger of Thomas, the sign that hung over Christ’s head on the cross, and who knows what else. But the relic that gets the most attention in the media, is the one housed at Turin, Italy. There they have what is known as the “Holy Shroud”. Maybe you have heard is referred to as the “Shroud of Turin”? The shroud is a big piece of cloth, measuring something like 14x4 feet. The cloth bears the image of a man that appears to have suffered death by way of crucifixion. On May 28, 1898, an amateur photographer named “Secondo Pia” was amazed when he looked at the negatives of the photos that he had taken of the shroud. In the negatives, the image of the face of a man is very clear. So clear in fact, that people are drawn to the cloth as a result of it. Could this be the actual face of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Biblically speaking it is doubtful that this is an authentic piece of history, as John is clear that there were clothes, clothes for the body, and a napkin of sorts for the face. Yet, it has been debated for years, and I’m sure the debate will go on, for who wouldn’t like to see the face of Jesus? Well, in our text this morning we are going to encounter a man that saw Jesus face to face. His name was Simeon. He saw Jesus in the flesh and was blessed, and moreover, he was changed. Today, we see Jesus by faith in the Word of God. Now remember, the Gospel of Luke is the story of God sending His Son to seek and to save the lost. That is why the title of this series is “The Good News”. Luke was writing this book with a clear and simple purpose; to help bring assurance to a friend, Theophilus, who was obviously struggling with his faith. We see that in 1:3-4, “It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed”. This orderly account that he describes is not what you might expect it to be. When his friend was struggling with his faith, he didn’t begin to argue for the faith, or to deal with objections or doubts he might have had, no he just told him the “Good News”, the story of Jesus. And we need that story today, we need the Gospel today. And many people struggle with assurance of their salvation, and they need this Gospel today. The Gospel is not something that you need when you get saved, but then leave behind as you mature in your faith. We all desperately need the Gospel each and every day of our lives spent here waiting for Christ. We need it to deal with our sin, and our guilt, and our shame, and our fears, and our doubts. We live through the Gospel. We live knowing that God sent His Son and that Son went to the cross to die in our place and to take God’s wrath upon Himself, the wrath that should have been poured out on us. We live knowing that Christ was buried, but then He raised again defeating death, hell, and the grave, having paid in full the penalty for our sins. We live knowing that by faith, God can, and will forgive our sins when we turn from our sins and turn to Jesus to make Him Lord and Savior through this glorious work he accomplished. We live knowing that not only were our sins blotted out by the blood, thereby making us justified in God’s sight, no longer guilty and in line for wrath, but that God also placed the righteousness of Christ upon us, that He imputed, or made all of Christ’s law keeping count for us. We live by this Gospel every

second of every day. That means that these stories that make up Luke’s orderly account are more than just Sunday school tales intended to teach us some simple moral truth. They are the historical account of the Son of God and His life and death and resurrection in an effort to save our souls. So that means each verse, and each story has a definite principle of faith that Luke intended us to read, understand, and apply. Some teach us about Christ, some teach us about the Father, some teach us about the Holy Spirit, some teach us about the cross, some teach us about salvation and faith, some teach us about the Christian life, and others teach us about eternal life. All of them bring glory to God and life to man. This morning we will actually be looking at all of them as we attempt to come face to face with Jesus as Simeon did. Interrogative: What are we supposed to see when we come face to face with Jesus in Scripture. Transition: This often underemphasized story reveals what each of us should see when we come face to face with Jesus. The Purpose Bridge: To challenge folks to take a good hard look at the person of Christ and their relationship to Him. Point # 1: A Person of Rescue Text: Luke 2:25-26, “And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ”. Explanation: Now Luke is going to give us the bare bones fats here, no frills, no extras, just the facts. And he starts by giving us the context. He writes, “And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon”. Simeon was a pretty common name, nothing super special about it, and yet don’t miss the significance of it in this text. His name means “God has heard”, and we will see how important that is in a minute. Notice though that Luke simply says that he was in Jerusalem. John Macarthur writes, “The nation Israel was apostate and hypocritical. That sort of sums it up. For the most part, the whole nation of Israel was largely in a condition of being unsaved. They...they talked about God on the outside, they had a certain zeal for the legalistic approach to things, they had traditions that they were committed to, but their heart was far from God. They were basically apostate and legalistic. They were hypocritical”. And yet, in the midst of so much dead religion, Luke brings us one that was much different. He writes, “And the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel”. So Simeon was unlike the others of his day, he stood out as a believer, as one of the faithful remnant that was still standing on the promises of God. Luke calls him “just”, from the Greek word “δικαιος”, meaning upright, innocent, approved, or accepted by God. Now we have to remember that when someone is declared righteous by God in the Scriptures, especially before the cross, it is never a pronouncement made based upon the person’s merit, that is, they did not earn it. Just as Paul said in Romans 3:10, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one”, quoting from Psalm 14. So Simeon’s righteousness was given to him by God, just as God gives it to all who place their faith in Christ. It was a result of his faith, just as it was for Abraham. But not only was he declared “just”, but also “devout”. Literally the word means to “take hold of something well”. And that is what he had been, a faithful believer, one that had taken hold of God by faith, and then held on well. This speaks to his walk with God. So he was a pretty faithful guy, but what does Luke say he was waiting for? Luke writes, “waiting for the consolation of Israel”. Now what is that? Virtually none of God’s covenant promises were manifest at that time. The Abrahamic covenant had seemingly failed as they did not possess the land. The Davidic covenant had seemingly failed as they did not have the throne. And the promised New Covenant had not yet come into place wherein they would receive new hearts, cleansing, and forgiveness from God by grace. But some, those who knew their Bible well, still believed that God was coming to set things straight. The consolation of Israel, that word means the help of Israel, or the comfort of Israel, which God had promised in Isaiah. We can find it in: • Isaiah 40:1, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God”. • Isaiah 40:10-11, “Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young”.

Isaiah 51:3, “For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody”. William Hendrickson writes, “To be sure, conditions were bad, very bad, in Israel at the time of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Think of loss of political independence, cruel King Herod, externalization of religion, legalistic scribes and Pharisees and their many followers, worldly-minded Sadducees, the silence of the voice of the prophets. And in the midst of all this darkness, degradation and despair there were men who were hopefully looking forward to and earnestly expecting the consolation of Israel”. Notice that Luke adds, “And the Holy Ghost was upon him”. Now we have seen this in the Old Testament, and we have seen this already in this Gospel, though we have really just begun. We must see the connection between God declaring him “just”, and the work of the Holy Spirit in his life. He was there to convict him of sin, and his inability to keep the law, and to point him to God and to give him the power to trust Him by faith. Not only that though, he was given an incredible gift. Luke goes on, “And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ”. Now just let that soak in for a moment, and let me say a few things about it. People don’t get this kind of information, some claim to, but it doesn’t end up panning out. Some have seen in this type of special revelation a support for the doctrine of private revelation, you know, “God told me last night that…”. That is dangerous territory. Think of it this way. Isn’t that how Islam got started, and isn’t that how the Mormons got started? We have the revelation of God in our hands this morning. Ok, back to Simeon. Can you imagine what this would have meant in his life? Now we have no idea how long it had been since he had gotten this revelation, but can you imagine? Macarthur points out the ramifications this might have had on him and his family. You know he is there with his wife at Five Guys Burgers and Fries and he order a triple with bacon and cheese and fries and she looks at him and says, “You know that will kill you”. And he replies, “actually, it won’t, at least not until the Messiah comes at least”! But seriously, what a gift that he had been given by God.  Dr. B.H. Carroll writes, "The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that his old eyes should not close in death until they had seen the Lord's Christ. It was like the revelation to Enoch that his son Methuselah should live to the end of the Antediluvian world, and like the revelation to Lamech that his son Noah should give rest from the flood and start a new race in the Postdiluvian world."  Note that J. Caughey writes, "Undevout minds are too worldly, too apathetic, too dull to hear the secret whisperings of heaven. 'Tis the spiritual ear alone that can hear the still small voice that comes across the universe from the spirit-world; 'tis the spiritual eye alone that reads the secrets of eternity, that sees passing in review before it the realities of the hidden state”. Think of how the nation had been crying out to be saved from all of this by God. Think of how individual Jews must have cried out to God to come and bring rescue through the Messiah. And think of Simeon and his own prayer life. Think of how he must have daily cried out to God, “Please God, today, come and rescue us, come and save your people”! Only, Simeon knew it was coming soon, and that he would see it! Illustration: “Why does Jesus demand that we believe in him? And what does believing in Him really mean? The reason Jesus demands that we believe in Him is that all human beings are in a desperate situation, and only Jesus can rescue us. He demands belief in Himself because we cannot rescue ourselves but must look entirely to Him for help. Jesus is the only one that can save us from this danger. For our own sake He demands that we trust Him. It is as though a fireman finds you almost unconscious in a burning building that is about to collapse, throws his insulated tarp over you, picks you up, and says, “Hold still as I carry you. Don’t move. Don’t try to help me. I will get you out. You must let me do it. Trust me” (John Piper). Application: When we look at the person of Jesus through the eyes of faith and the window of Scripture we must see Him as our rescuer form sin and the fierce wrath of God in hell. Some don’t see Him that way, they see Him as a tyrant and as one that would come and steal of your fun and make you live His way. They still haven’t seen the real Jesus and they are destined for hell.

Point # 2: A Plan of Redemption Text: Luke 2:27-32, “And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel”. Explanation: Not only did he see him as a Person of Rescue, but He saw him a Plan of Redemption coming together. Notice that Luke writes, “And he came by the Spirit into the temple”. This is about to get amazing to me. Luke said that he was filled with the Spirit, which is to be controlled by the Spirit, but I mean this is some very specific direction here. Charles Haddon Spurgeon reminds us, “There was an ancient promise, “The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple”, (Malachi 3:1) and this probably drew the holy man to the courts of the Lord”. So we are not told how, but we know that he headed out for the temple. Now we need to get the right picture here in our minds. Luke used the word “hieron” here instead of the word “naos” when he referred to the temple. The first one refers to the general area of the temple, whereas, the second refers to the holy place and the most holy place. Now, there were a ton of people milling around that area at that time giving sacrifices and worshipping. And look at what happens next. Luke writes, “and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms”. Did you see that? How in the world did he know that this was the Messiah? How in the world did he pick them out of this vast crowd? How in the world did he know that it was going to be a silent, 40 day old little baby? This is astounding, and yet at the same time, it reveals the power of the Spirit in Simeon’s life. So some how he meets up with Jesus, the one whom he has been living for, and he takes him up in his arms. Do you see the hand of God in this? Jesus told Thomas, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”. Imagine then the blessing of taking up the baby Jesus in your arms, not a lot of people got to do that. But look at what happens next. Luke writes, “Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation”. What we see here in Simeon is the second of the three witnesses that Luke is presenting to testify to the birth of the Savior. This comes from a deeply ingrained doctrine that began way back in the book of Deuteronomy as the Israelites were preparing to take the Promised Land. The doctrine states that “at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established”. It starts out as a means to be used in legal matters, and then Jesus restates it in the context of church discipline in Matthew 18. Paul brings it up to the Corinthians and to Timothy, and then the writer of Hebrews looks back to it as well. So what we have in this second half of the second chapter is Luke bringing these three witnesses before to establish the testimony of the birth of Jesus. First there is Mary and Joseph, and then there is Simeon and then Anna. Do you think there is any doubt in Simeon’s mind here? He is ready to die, and he can finally die, in peace, knowing that he has met Jesus. Whoa, that is the only way that you can die in peace folks, if you have seen Jesus and been saved. Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe observes, “[Simeon] was a man who was led by the Spirit of God, taught by the Word of God, and obedient to the will of God; and therefore he was privileged to see the salvation of God”. Simeon knew by faith that this 40 day old infant was God’s plan to save the world. And notice how he makes that clear from the beginning. Luke writes, “Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel”. This tells us two things right off the bat. First, Simeon was a man of great faith. Second, Simeon took his Bible literally. He knew that although the majority of the nation of Israel hated the Gentiles, that God had promised to save them. He knew the book of Isaiah. • Isaiah 42:6, “I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles”. • Isaiah 49:6, “And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth”.

• • •

Isaiah 51:4, “Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people”. Isaiah 52:10, “The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God”. Isaiah 60:1-3, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising”.

Illustration: “The story has been told of an orphaned boy who was living with his grandmother when their house caught fire. The Grandmother, trying to get upstairs to rescue the boy, died in the flames. The boy’s cries for help were finally answered by a man who climbed an iron drain pipe and came down with the boy hanging tightly to his neck. Several weeks later, a public hearing was held to determine who would receive custody of the child. A farmer, a teacher, and the richest man in town all gave the reasons why they felt they should be chosen to give the boy a home. As the talked the little boy’s eyes remained focused on the floor. Then a stranger walked to the front and slowly took his hands form his pockets, revealing scars on them. As the crowd gasped, the boy cried out in recognition. This was the man who had saved his life and whose hands had been burned when he climbed the hot pipe. With a leap the boy threw his arms around the man’s neck ad held on for dear life. The other men silently, walked away, leaving the boy and his rescuer alone. Those marred hands had settled the issue” (1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching). Application: When we look at the person of Jesus through the eyes of faith and the window of Scripture, we have to see God’s plan to seek and to save the lost. That plan was a plan for His Son to die. That is the Gospel, Christ dying on the cross for our sins. If you see Jesus as a good teacher alone, you will die in your sins. If you see Jesus as one of many prophets, you will die in your sins. Jesus is God’s only plan to seek and to save the lost. He is our rdeemer. Point # 3: A Problem of Rejection Text: Luke 2:33-35, “And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed”. Explanation: Finally, Simeon saw something negative; He saw the hard reality of the Gospel as well. He saw the Problem of Rejection. Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”. Simeon knew this truth; he knew that many people, indeed most people would not feel the same way about Jesus as he did. This marks the first real negative passage in this book, and yet it’s truth is evident even today, many reject the person and work of Jesus Christ. Luke writes, “And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him”. The angel of the Lord had told Joseph already that Jesus would “save his people from their sins”. But now it was beginning to become more real for them. Here was this perfect stranger coming up out of the blue and confirming everything that they had been told, imagine their excitement. And yet in the middle of all that, Simeon continued. Luke writes, “And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel”. Now there is some pretty deep theology here, and it comes right out of the book of Isaiah and the rock metaphor that is used of God. To some he would be a stumbling stone, to others a chief cornerstone. But to make it simple, Simeon is saying that the rise and fall of man, spiritually, and before God, will depend on what they do with Jesus. Remember, at judgment there will be no arguing. There will be no pleading of one’s case. Your sins will be the evidence, the devil your prosecuting attorney, and unless Christ is your defendant, you will be found guilty and sentenced to eternal punishment in hell. Everything rises and falls upon Jesus. He goes on, “and for a sign which shall be spoken against”. In

their speaking against Christ, which they will do, they will be showing their hatred towards God. It will be an outward sign of an inward truth. Simeon knew this from the Bible as well, boy did he know and believe his Bible. He knew it from verses like Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not”. And, so all of those that were shouting, “crucify, crucify”, were really revealing the true condition of their hearts. Mary needed to be prepared to accept the fact that though Jesus was the Messiah, He would in fact be rejected by most. But then he goes a step further. Luke writes, “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also”. Now this one is for Mary. She needed to be not only prepared for His rejection, but also His death. And imagine the pain she would feel at the cross. Simeon wanted her to be ready. He concludes, “that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed”. Though many would claim to love God, their response to Jesus would reveal the truth. Dr. W.A. Criswell explains, “The fall and rising of many' indicates that those who reject the Messiah will be cast down, while those who accept Him will rise through salvation’ (Luke 2:34). Criswell also notes, This statement 'that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed' refers apparently to those hearts who speak against Him and thus reveals their true character” (Luke 2:35). Illustration: “There was a man who took a friend on a tour through Paris, took him to the Louvre and showed him all the pictures. He took him to a concert hall in Paris that night to hear a great symphony. At the end of the day he said, "What do you think?" And he said, "I wasn't that impressed." To which his friend said, "If it's any consolation to you, the museum and its art were not on trial and neither was the symphony. You were on trial. History has already judged the greatness of those works of art and the greatness of that music. All that is revealed by your attitude is the smallness of your own appreciation." Jesus isn't on trial but every soul is. And what happens is, He's raised up as a sign and by opposing Him, the wickedness of the heart is surfaced. Somebody might think, "You know, when the Messiah comes, they're going to throw lilies at His feet and when the Messiah comes there's going to be hearts and flowers, there's going to be peace and joy and happiness everywhere. When the Messiah comes, you know, Jesus was really a good man, He would come into the world and there would be goodness trailing out of Him and everyone would feel happy and He'd be just a person who engendered happiness and joy and peace” (John Macarthur). Application: When we look at the person of Jesus through the eyes of faith and the window of Scripture we need to understand that there is a problem of rejection. Before I got saved I rejected Jesus. Sure, I wasn’t out writing books against, Him, or going on the news against Him, or telling others that He was a fraud, but by my constant rebellion and sin, I was rejecting Him. The only way to salvation is to receive Him and to stop rejecting him. John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”. Conclusion / Invitation: Consider this; let’s go back to the temple. Imagine the thousands that walked past Jesus, both when He was an infant, and as an adult, that did not see Him as rescuer, redeemer, and one to be received. Thousands walked by Jesus and never saw Him for what He was, the question that you have to ask yourself this morning is this; do you see Him as the Savior of your soul this morning? Do you have the assurance that you can depart in peace this morning?