Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation”

S‑1091 12/28/2008 FSAC/3B Hymns: (O)#139; (S)#138; L.S. #76; #136; #105; (C)#70

Texts: Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:22-40

Theme: “My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation” (Luke 2:29-31)

Question: “Have you had one of those days?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Gospel lesson: “he [Simeon] took him [Jesus] up in his arms and blessed God 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 peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.’” (Luke 2:28-32).

Saints in Christ, One of the greatest disservices that our generation has suffered at the hands of modern education is a growing lack of teaching of our history. With the advent of instant potatoes, instant milk, instant coffee, and instant messaging, anything that takes time or has a sense of historical importance is seen as archaic and useless.

The problem with this is we don’t have an appreciation of where we have been and what we have endured. When we don’t know our history, we are not able to keep perspective in the face of our current economic setting. There are some of you who lived through a REAL depression. Combat veterans have seen first hand what our current soldiers and Marines are facing right now. The longer you are around, the more you get to see. The more you see, the more wisdom can be imparted to the following generations. The book of Proverbs even addresses it in this manner: “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life” (Pro. 16:31).

Many of you know Erwin (Erv) Knodel. He is approaching the century mark. Let’s put that in perspective. In his lifetime the church building you are now sitting in was new; actually he helped build it. He saw the train operate in town and many other businesses that have come and gone. When he was a young man no one had ever heard of a World War. Now we have had two. Cars were a novelty. Airplanes were just starting courtesy of a couple of bicycle mechanics in North Carolina. They didn’t know what an antibiotic was. Surgery was only marginally better than butchering. Electricity, radio, television, telephone, running water, indoor plumbing…all of these either made their debut or became common place in his life. If you have never had a chance to visit with him, you are missing the wisdom he has to offer and the perspective on life that few of us will EVER have.

In these words from St. Luke that serve as our sermon text for this service, we see two people who have a great deal of perspective on life. This is not only on life in this world but also life under the watchful eyes and care of the Almighty God. Both Simeon and Anna had by the grace of God lived long lives. Simeon, according to the Scripture was one who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Imagine living long enough to see the fulfillment of God’s greatest promise! What mercy, what grace that is? But this is exactly what Simeon was blessed by God to see. All those years that had passed. All the struggles in his life as a child of Yahweh were real. All the turmoil in the world in his lifetime was all too real as well. Think of all of his loved ones that tasted death while he lived on.

On that special day of purification when the Holy Spirit caused Simeon to head to the temple, I wonder if he even knew what would take place. To wake up to the morning prayers and sacrifices he would not have known any different. That is until he laid eyes upon a sight that he had longed to see. And what did he see? A young couple bringing their first child to the Temple of the Lord, to complete the requirement of the Law for Him. Hey saw a nervous father, a young mother holding near her chest a little tiny baby. How many babies do you think they had seen? Dozens? Hundreds? At the Temple it may have been thousands! But this One…this One was different than all the rest!

Simeon saw with his own eyes the long promised salvation. He saw what he had been waiting for according to the promise of God. There in the arms of the young woman he saw a baby named Jesus. In that baby he came to know that He who was about to be redeemed under the old Covenant had come to redeem him! Yahweh kept a promise. Not only to Simeon and Anna, but to all people of all time. This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. God’s people and God’s city would be redeemed in this little life that he is looking at with his own eyes and holding in his hands and heart.

Can you imagine seeing, hearing and touching the greatest promise of God? Can you imagine Simeon’s feelings that day as he held the Savior in His arms? Aged Simeon was holding God in human flesh. He was embracing forgiveness in person. He was cradling the answer to all his hopes, fears and dreams. Can you imagine the thoughts, feelings and the emotions as He looked at God’s awaited fulfillment? Maybe there was a new vigor in his step, a smile on his face and joy in his heart.

What would be like to see, touch, and hold the Savior in our Arms? What emotions would we go through if we were privileged like aged Simeon and Anna! What would it be like to hear Him, to see Him, to hold Him! Wouldn’t it be great if we could?

WE DO! By the grace of God we get to see the very same salvation that Simeon held in His arms that day in the Temple. The same Savior that Anna told the people about is beheld by us right here in this place week in and week out. Our Lord has promised to show Himself to us. In the Means of Grace, God’s Word and Sacraments, with our own eyes see the salvation of God. For in these all powerful Means we SEE what God says to us. In them, God is simply keeping another promise not only for Simeon and Anna, but us also.

This is why we sing what we sing in the liturgy after the Lord’s Supper every week saying: “Lord, now lettest Thou They servant depart in peace according to Thy word, For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation: Which Thou has prepared before the face of all people, a Light to lighten the Gentiles and the Glory of They people Israel” (Nunc Dimittis p. 29 TLH). The words we sing are words of thanksgiving and praise as we depart in God’s peace. We have peace with God because it was in Christ, the child of Bethlehem, who made it possible. He makes it by making a sacrifice. On that day when He was brought up to the temple, two birds redeemed the Son of Israel from the Law. But 33 years later, that same redeemed boy sung of by Simeon would offer His own flesh and blood as the greatest and final sacrifice not to far from the place where these words were spoken. That little boy of Bethlehem would offer Himself as the ultimate sacrifice—the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world on Calvary’s hill.

33 years before, two turtle doves paid the price to redeem this little bundle of joy of the nervous father and the young mother. But on a hill outside the city of Jerusalem, this little boy who became a young man offers Himself as the greatest and grandest sacrifice for his nervous father, and young mother and all the worlds’ sins.

The Prince of Peace and Life gave up His life to give us life that will never end. Behind the crib lay the cross. Behind the cross was the answer to life’s solutions—death is done away with and heaven’s gate are open wide. Simeon is not afraid to die and end his ministry here, because he is about to enter into the heavenly choir that will sing the hymns of praise and thanksgiving forever before the Lamb of God.

Erv Knodel has much wisdom to convey to us. He has seen much in his life-time. But think of the wisdom aged Simeon shares with us in the words of our text. “My Eyes have seen Your salvation”. Is there anything more precious than to be in the Temple of the Lord and dine and feed at His table? Is there anything more precious than the God of all grace, gracing us with His life-giving body and blood? Is there anything more blessed than being a guest—an honored guest in the presence of the One who Redeemed us than being with Him even now?

Brothers and sisters in Christ Aged Simeon waited and watched for the coming of the Savior. We celebrate and praise Him for coming into our lives even now. For we too, by the grace of God have feasted at His table, received His forgiveness and have seen with our eyes God salvation. And like Simeon of old we say “Lord, lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation” Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…

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