Bible Studies for Life Sunday School lesson for December 30, 2018

Bible Studies for Life Sunday School lesson for December 30, 2018

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By Jim Barnette, Ph.D.
Samford University and Brookwood Baptist Church, Mountain Brook

Simeon’s Proclamation

Luke 2:25–35

Because of Jesus, we can look forward in hope. (25–27)

Luke’s Gospel began in the Temple, where an angel announced to Zechariah that he and Elizabeth would bear a son named John (see Luke 1:5–25). Now the birth account returns to the Temple, this time with Simeon rejoicing over the gift of seeing the long-awaited Christ child. An aura of holiness illuminates this scene: It is in the Temple, Simeon is guided by the Holy Spirit, the parents have come to fulfill the Law and words of Scripture echo in Simeon’s speech. The picture is reminiscent of the Old Testament account of the blessing of Samuel, but in this case the blessing is not because of an earthly prophet but because of the One who is the fulfillment of the promise and coming of the Messiah.

Luke neither associates Simeon with a religious party nor calls him a priest. The important thing is that he is “righteous and devout.” The “consolation of Israel” was a term for the restoration of the people and the fulfillment of God’s redemptive work. The term comes from references in Isaiah to God’s comforting the people with the arrival of the Messiah (see Isa. 40:1–2; 51:3; 52:9). It is appropriate that the Spirit who is the Consoler was upon the one who awaited the consolation.

Because of Jesus, we can know salvation. (28–32)

The assurance that a patriarch can die “in peace” because he has witnessed the fulfillment of God’s promises recalls such events in the Old Testament, including assurances to Abraham (Gen. 15:15) and to Jacob (Gen. 46:3). Simeon rejoices that he is now being released from his mission to watch for the coming of the Messiah because he has now seen the coming of the One who will bring salvation. Simeon notes that God has prepared this salvation for all people, both Gentiles and Israelites. Indeed, the whole course of events in Luke’s two volumes points to God’s promise of salvation for both Jews and Gentiles. The announcement occurs in in the Temple, just as had the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist. The Gospel ends with the disciples in the temple (Luke 24:53), and in the early chapters of Acts the disciples are repeatedly in the Temple. But rather than the Gentiles coming to Jerusalem, those who have seen God’s salvation will go to the nations, announcing God’s peace to all. “Peace” occurs fourteen times in Luke, where it is both the goal and the result of God’s redemptive work in Christ Jesus.

Some experience salvation through Jesus and others will stumble and fall over Him. (33–35)

Simeon’s speech moves on to sound a somber note. In vivid language, Simeon declares that because of the Christ-child “many in Israel” will be brought to a point of decision, some to a point of collapse and others to what will result ultimately in resurrection. Furthermore, there will be a cost to this child named Jesus. As the One who is the ultimate “sign” of God’s intentions, He will be vulnerable to the hostility of unbelievers. Later in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus warns that just as the sign of Jonah announced judgment on Nineveh, so also the Son of Man would be a sign of judgment on that generation (see Luke 11:29–30). As a result, many of the generation would “oppose” Him. Simeon closes his speech by noting how the effects of adversarial hostility towards Jesus will wound His earthly mother, most notably as she sees Him in His agony at the cross.