171231 Luke 2:28-32

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 January 2018 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Sermon Text: Luke 2:28-32

Sermon Theme: As We Leave 2017, Depart in Peace!


Just one week ago, you and I heard the angel comfort the shepherds when he said to them: "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." What is that Good News? "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." As you and I celebrated Christmas, we joined our voices with the choir of angels who sang out: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Peace. Looking back on this past year, would you say that it was a year of peace? Seeing the effects of sin in our world and in our own personal lives, you and I may not feel very peaceful this morning. Today, as we meet together here in God's house to continue our Christmas celebration on this first Sunday after Christmas; today, on this December 31st, as you and I bring to a close another year of God's grace to us as individuals and as a congregation; today, as we leave 2017, the encouragement you and I hear is: "Depart in peace!" I invite you to listen once again to a portion of the Gospel Lesson that was read earlier. From Luke chapter 2, we read verses 28 through 32:

Simeon took him [Jesus] in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

This is the Word of the Lord.

This portion of God's Word is known as "The Song of Simeon." Before we take a closer look at his song, let's take a moment to answer the question: "Who is Simeon?" One story tells us that Simeon was one of the 72 translators who translated the Old Testament into the Greek Bible known as The Septuagint. The story goes that as Simeon was translating, he hesitated over the translation of Isaiah 7:14 which tells us that the promised Savior would be born of a virgin. So, as the story continues, an angel appeared to Simeon and told him that he would not die until he had seen the promised Savior born of a virgin. However, if this story about Simeon is true, that would make him 200 years old or older by the time we reach the event recorded for us here in Luke chapter 2!

Instead of trusting this tradition, let's look at God's Word. What does the Bible tell us about this man Simeon? The answer? Not a whole lot! Earlier in Luke chapter 2 we are told, "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 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." This is all that the Bible tells us about Simeon. He lived in Jerusalem. He was clinging to the promises the Lord had made about the coming Messiah. In some way, the Holy Spirit had told Simeon that he would not die before he saw the promised Savior. That same Holy Spirit led Simeon into the temple the very day Jesus' was to be circumcised. Then he led Simeon directly to Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Seeing the baby Jesus, Simeon takes him in his arms and breaks out in his words of praise to God. He begins: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace." During this time of year, we hear a lot of talk about "peace on earth". But you and I know that because of sin that is in the world, there will never be 100% peace on this side of heaven. You and I also know that we don't deserve to be at peace with the one true God. The one true God is the One who tells us that if you and I want to live forever in the eternal peace of heaven with him, we need to be holy, that is without ANY sin. But you and I know that on our own we are not able to claim to be holy. We confess that we are sinful from the very beginning of our lives. The sins that we commit day after day make you and me guilty. You and I don't deserve peace with God. Rather, the only thing you and I deserve is the never-ending punishment of hell.

So, how are you and I able to leave 2017 departing in peace with the One true God? Simeon answers that question when he says, "For my eyes have seen your salvation..." With his own eyes, Simeon was able to look down on his Savior that he held in his arms that day. Simeon had peace knowing that because of his Savior, all of his sins were forgiven. Simeon knew that because of his Savior he would live forever in the perfect peace of heaven.

By the grace of our Savior-God, you and I are able to enjoy that same peace. You and I can be sure that we are at peace with our God in heaven, because our Savior, Jesus, came, lived, suffered, died and rose again. All of your sins and all of my sins are forgiven! Because of Jesus, the eternal peace of heaven is yours and mine to look forward to. While you and I aren't able to hold our Savior in our arms like Simeon, we are able to say along with Job, "Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!"

How can you and I be sure that Jesus came to be the Savior of all people (including you and me) and not just one particular group of people? In his closing words, Simeon proclaims the Good News: "For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." As he held the baby Jesus in his arms, Simeon held the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies and promises of the coming Savior. He held your Savior. He held my Savior. He held the Savior of all mankind. This is the Good News for you and me to hear. This is the Good News for you and me to share with others.

Later this evening, you and I will have one final opportunity this year to gather together here in God's house. It is one more opportunity for us to gather around the Word of God and his sacrament, offering our Savior-God our thanks and praise for all the blessings of this past year. I invite all of you to join us at 5:30 this evening for our special worship service as we close out this year of God's grace to us, looking forward to another year of his grace in 2018. Today, as we leave 2017, depart in peace! Amen.

 

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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