I love that the Christmas story involves a variety of people from a variety of backgrounds. Last week we talked about how the Good News of Great Joy was delivered to the lowly, poor, despised shepherds. They were the outcasts of society. There were also the Wise Men who were part of the elite and educated. They came to worship the infant King and to present gifts to Him that would come to represent His life, ministry, and mission. Mary was certainly a young teen. Joseph was probably a young adult. In our text today, we meet a man who is well advanced in years. He is actually near the end of his life.
Luke 2:25-35 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 on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Let’s examine the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Simeon. When we meet him, he encounters Joseph and Mary and the infant Jesus who is now 40 days old. This meeting happens as the Holy Family goes to the temple to take part in a ritual of purification following childbirth, a ritual that the Jewish people observed. So, Mary and Joseph are on their way to do what Jewish Law required and they run into Simeon.
Our text says in verse 25 that the Holy Spirit was on Him. Verse 26 says that the Holy Spirit had revealed to Him that the Messiah would come in his lifetime and that he would get to see the Messiah. On the day that Joseph and Mary were headed to the temple, the Holy Spirit moved or prompted Simeon to get there. Now, that’s a whole lot of Holy Spirit involvement in Simeon’s life. Luke didn’t want us to miss this connection that Simeon had with the Holy Spirit.
Here is a first takeaway: Life with Christ is also a life with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Trinity who enables us to receive the life of Christ, to share in the life of Christ and to replicate the life of Christ through our lives on earth. It is the Holy Spirit who comes to make His home inside of us when we become Children of God through salvation, and it is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to do the things God has planned for us. We need an ongoing and growing relationship with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit was on Simeon. He wasn’t the only Christmas character who was full of the Holy Spirit. Listen to what was said of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, the one who came ahead of Jesus to prepare the way for Jesus’ message: Luke 1:15: or he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. No doubt, John the Baptist would be born with an awareness of God’s presence in his life.
When the angel delivered the news to Mary that she, a virgin, would conceive and bear the Messiah, and she asked how that would happen, the response in Luke 1:35 was, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God.
After the Holy Spirit came on Mary and the life of Jesus began to grow in her, she went to see her cousin Elizabeth, the one who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Luke 1:45 exclaims, When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
In Luke 1:67 we are told that John the Baptist’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied.
We then come to Simeon’s story and read the Holy Spirit was on him. I can say with full confidence that the miracles of the Christmas story, the people who were put into place to point to the Messiah’s coming, none of it would have happened without the workings of the Holy Spirit.
The first message of Christmas is, receive the Lord Jesus, and the second is receive the Holy Spirit! It was the Holy Spirit who was working behind the scenes, convincing people, prompting people, and using people to accomplish all that took place. As I look at Simeon’s life from our text, I see that
- The Holy Spirit will enable you to know what God wants you to know.
We don’t know Simeon’s back story. We don’t know if it was an angel that appeared to him or if he had some kind of dream that he would see the Messiah in his lifetime. We don’t know how often he was reminded of what was ahead for him. We do know that he lived convinced that God would give him the honor of seeing Jesus for himself before he died. Simeon had received a message somehow from God himself concerning the meet up with Jesus We read in verse 29: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
It was because the Holy Spirit was on Simeon that he was able to hear from God. The Holy Spirit is the great Revealer. The Holy Spirit helps us know and understand what God wants to share with us. If you prayed before this message to hear from God, you were inviting the Holy Spirit to communicate with you. It is the Holy Spirit, John 16:13, who leads us into all truth.
Look at I Corinthians 2:9-10: “As it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”[b]—the things God has prepared for those who love him—10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
Before the Spirit of God spoke to Simeon and told him that he would get to witness the Messiah’s birth, he never dreamed that would be part of his story. The Spirit of God had to communicate it to him, and I would add that he had to have a desire, a willingness, an openness to receiving the revelation.
I will share that I count on the working of the Holy Spirit in my life every day. I look forward to the things He speaks to me and the promptings I receive from Him. I couldn’t do my job without Holy Spirit wisdom, and I couldn’t live the Christian life without being able to hear His voice. With some regularity, I am prompted to reach out to people because the Spirit gives me a message that something is wrong, or something is needed or that I can help in some way. Sometimes, I even have a specific understanding or knowledge that is delivered to me. That has happened to me a few times just this month, and there are people in this room that can testify that the Spirit had me reach out literally at an exact moment when they were praying for God to be at work in their lives.
Part of my role at my previous church in Cincinnati was to lead a Bible study for single adults. I was single at the time, and God helped us to grow a pretty tight-knit and large ministry. During one of our Sunday morning services, I saw one of our single young adult women come to the altar. As I left the platform to go pray with her, the Holy Spirit told me, “She’s pregnant.” Y’all. I would have had no way to know what she had come to pray about. I couldn’t have guessed that. I didn’t know she had a boyfriend or was seeing anyone. That was Divine revelation given to me by the Holy Spirit.
I knew she needed compassion and encouragement. I knew she needed help in what she was experiencing as a time of trouble. I knew she needed to hear from God. I knelt beside her, put my arm around her, and said, “God has told me you are pregnant. I am here to help, and we will support you in every way we can.” Relief came over her instantly. That wasn’t me. That was God. If I hadn’t known, if she had to be the one to tell me, how much extra anxiety and fear would there be for her? Knowing that God was already prompting people to support her was proof to her that He wasn’t kicking her to the curb. He wasn’t washing His hands of her. He was reaching for her. That is what the Holy Spirit does, friends. The Holy Spirit helps us feel the embrace of God. Because the Holy Spirit was active in my life, God was able to reveal something to me that enabled her to feel the embrace of God. Wow!
Because the Holy Spirit was active in Simeon’s life, he was given special revelation that he would get to witness the birth of the Messiah. When you have spiritual insight and understanding it is because the Holy Spirit is revealing truth to you.
I Corinthians 2:12-1412 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[a] 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit will encourage you to be where God wants you to be.
Verse 27 tells us that the Holy Spirit moved Simeon to get to the Temple courts so that he didn’t miss the meet up with the Messiah. I believe the Holy Spirit causes Divine delays in our days sometimes so that we will be in a certain spot at a time when God needs to use us. We shouldn’t get impatient when there are obstacles in our way because sometimes God is slowing us down for a reason. I also believe the Holy Spirit gives us green lights and an angel escort when we need to get somewhere in a hurry.
Many of you remember Malcolm Combs, retired Church of God Pastor. He was the late husband of Judy Combs, the leader of our Holy Grounds senior adult Bible study. When he was quite ill at home, under Hospice care, I told the Lord that the desire of my heart was to be with him and Judy when he passed. I couldn’t just move in and keep watch over the weeks that he was declining, so I knew I needed to rely on the Lord to help me be there at just the right time. I never told Judy about that desire until after his passing.
Well, one day, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. He told me, “Go now.” I got there and within an hour, Malcolm passed. God was so gracious to give me Divine revelation and to prompt me to get there on time. Listen, when you walk with the Holy Spirit, He will direct your steps. Romans 8:14 says, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” You could very easily invert the phrases and read it to say, “The Children of God are those who are led by the Spirit of God.”
When you rely on the Holy Spirit you will not only get where you are supposed to go, but you will also be prevented from going where you ought not go. Acts 16:6-7 reports that the Holy Spirit prevented Paul from going certain places. 6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. Acts 16:6-7
You get the sense that something bad or unproductive would have happened to Paul if they had gone to those intended destinations. The Holy Spirit, in that sense, becomes a real Protector for us. Simeon was needed at the temple. He was needed there on a specific day at a specific time. The Holy Spirit made it happen. He was needed because he was going to deliver a message, which leads me to my third and final point.
- The Holy Spirit will empower you to speak for God.
Simeon spoke out loud that upon seeing Jesus he had seen the Lord’s salvation. That was definitely a confirming moment for Joseph and Mary. Jesus was who they believed Him to be. It was being reiterated here on day 40 of His life. I am sure that was comforting to both of them. Someone they hadn’t been doing life with, someone they didn’t know, knew who their Son was because God had revealed it to Him. I love when the Holy Spirit confirms things in multiple ways.
Revisit the text in verse 33-35 for the rest of Simeon’s message to them: 33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
What Simeon had to say was pretty serious, pretty heavy stuff. To hear that your baby will be the Messiah is pretty fantastic news. Everyone was eager for His appearing. Mary was honored to have been chosen. She felt highly favored. She was humbled. It moved her to worship. But to now hear that there that Jesus would be controversial, to hear that people would speak against Him, to hear that His coming would be a blessing to some and would cause others to be exposed and hate Him, and to be told that what would happen to Him would cause a piercing in her soul, well, that wasn’t easy news to deliver. The only way Simeon could be faithful to disseminate that truth was because the Holy Spirit empowered him to do it. And while it was tough to share, it was compassionate and helpful for Mary to prepare herself for the moments that things wouldn’t go so well for Jesus. It was kind of God to give her a heads up about what she would face. It gave her an opportunity to prepare for the shock of it all.
There are times we must deliver some tough messages. Calling out sin is never easy. Standing up for truth isn’t popular. Being a Jesus-follower in this day and time when there are so many scoffers, atheists, witches, agnostics, and people who are full of hatred for Christians, it makes being the messenger not so much fun at times. Some days I am tempted to order a t-shirt that says, “I’m just the messenger,” to try to take some of the heat off! Anyone ever feel like that? Simeon could speak for God with boldness because of the work of the Spirit in his life.
While it can be difficult to speak for God, we don’t have to do it in our own strength, and we don’t even have to worry so much about the words when our hearts are aligned with the Lord. The Holy Spirit will speak to us and guide our minds to use the words God wants us to speak. Jesus reiterated this to His disciples in Luke 12:11-12 11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
Many times, when I am listening to someone share about a difficult situation, I am also praying, “Holy Spirit, please help me know what to say.” Having a message to deliver that is tailored to the need is so special, and we can rely on the Holy Spirit to help us do just that. I cannot count the times the Holy Spirit has told me what to say just when I needed to say it.
Many people talk about “the Christmas spirit” in the sense that it is an attitude of joy or celebration, that it comes with a desire to party or eat good food or to surprise people with great presents. Sure, that is part of this amazing season. But for believers, the Christmas spirit comes as we possess and walk with the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit will enable you to know what God wants you to know.
The Holy Spirit will encourage you to be where God wants you to be.The Holy Spirit will empower you to speak for God.
Be sure to be looking to the Holy Spirit to enable, encourage and empower all these things and more in your life, not just at Christmastime, but all throughout the year.