Presentation of Christ in the Temple – Sermon 155

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thought of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ


‘Now Lord you are releasing your servant in peace- according to your promise –

For I have seen with my own eyes the deliverance – You have made ready in full view of the nations –

A light that will bring revelation to the Gentiles and Glory to your people Israel’

Simeon’s words – after seeing and holding Jesus in the Temple –
His words are used in one our best loved Canticles – Nunc Dimmittis – which – we sing at every common prayer version of our 6.30pm evening service – which we will being singing later in the service –

But – what does it mean? – why is it so important?

Lets look at Simeon and His song – and see what lessons we can learn from it –

Point 1      Simeon & his song

Simeon was a devout man who lived in Jerusalem – waiting for the consolation of Israel – and the coming of the Messiah –

Years earlier the Holy Spirit had promised him that he would not see death – until he had personally seen the Lord’s Christ – the Anointed One of Israel – and He believed in that promise –

The name Simeon means – ‘the one who hears – the one who obeys’- hear and obey are the same word in Hebrew – and he was in the Temple that day because the Holy Spirit had urgd him to go there –

Luke is the only Gospel writer to mention Mary & Joseph going to the Temple – in Jerusalem – to carry out the requirements of the Law of Moses –

They had brought Jesus to the Temple – for a special reason – It was – 40 days since His birth – and because He was their first born son and therefore Holy to the Lord – He had to be dedicated- to the Lord – in the Temple –

It was also the time – for Mary to bring her purification offering – which was the custom for women who had recently given birth – two young pigeons or doves – the sacrifice offered by the poor

As this very ordinary looking couple – entered the Temple – carrying their 11/2 month infant – others passed them by – but Simeon looked with the eyes of faith – and was able to see – the special miracle in their arms –
It was a brief encounter – that had been planned by God years earlier –

Some modern glass buildings – have a picture of a bird in flight – on their large glass sections – this is to stop birds flying into the glass and killing themselves –

It seems that the only thing that will persuade the birds to change direction – is to see one of their own kind – doing the same –

Well it’s a bit like that with God and us –

For years He has tried to communicate with us – through miracles and prophets – and had largely been ignored –

He realised – we could never live up to the perfection He wants – by ourselves – so He decided He would send a messenger – His Son – as one of us – to live up to that perfection Himself –and show us – how to to change our direction – and follow His –

The coming of His messenger – is foretold in our OT reading from Malachi – and also how – He will have a major impact on our lives:

‘Who can endure the day of His coming? – Who can stand firm when He appears? He is like a refiners fire, like a fullers soap;

He will take His seat testing and purifying …’ – He will come to judge His people –

Silver is refined by holding it in the hottest part of the flame – The Silversmith – knows when its fully refined – because he can see his face in it –

Jesus will be the means by which we will be changed for God – He will work tirelessly – to refine us until – our impurities have been removed – and He can see His image – in our hearts


Point 2       What is he saying?

Simeon held the Saviour of the World – in his arms
and realised that – his waiting was over – his watch had been completed – what a fantastic moment it must have been –

His short speech – aimed at his parents – alludes to some well known passages in Isaiah – and in it – he announces the mission and ministry of Jesus – to the world –

He is the first in Luke’s Gospel to see God’s salvation going out to the Gentiles – as well as the Jews – Glory will come to Israel – not as the receiver – but as the bearer of the promise and the nation from which the true ruler of God’s kingdom will emerge

Jesus is not the sort of revelation the world was expecting – nor the sort of glory Israel wanted –

Simeon’s words to Mary are also the first hint in this gospel – of the suffering to come –

He is the great divide – many will stand or fall because of Him – He will divide nations – families – people – the division that He brings – is between those who come to recognise Him – through the power of the Holy Spirit – and those who refuse Him –

Mary will be pierced to the heart- she will look on in dismay – as her Son is rejected by the very city – to which He offers the way of peace – by the very people He had come to rescue –

God’s chosen redeemer – will deal with the suffering in the world – by sharing it Himself – He will be mocked – whipped – and pierced for our transgressions – He will die on the cross – for our sins – and then tell us that – if we believe in what He has done and follow His ways – we will be made right with God –

The sacrifice that Mary and Joseph gave to the priests – was two young pigeons or doves – but the sacrifice they actually brought to the Temple was – the Lamb of God – who came to take away the sins of the world –

Our service this morning is sometimes known as Candlemas – when candles are lit to remember the purification of the Virgin Mary – and to symbolise the great light that radiates from Jesus – its also the turning point from Christmas to Easter – when we leave the joy of remembering Jesus’ birth – and prepare ourselves for the cross through Lent


Point 3       What does it mean for us?

Simeon is a picture of the church – receiving Christ thanking God – witnessing to all the world –

a faithful servant of God – who told of what God was doing – and did so with compassion and openness – content to be used by God until He took him home – The old could pass away – because the future has come – and it would be safe in Jesus’ hands –

The testimony of Simeon – is one that we can apply to our own lives – as the years go by – its not just faith in ourselves – that takes a knock – it is our faith in God as well – catastrophes, violence, illness, the death of a friend – can all take their toll – the fact that society as a whole dismisses any talk of God – makes it all the harder to keep on believing –

Yet the example of Simeon – urges us to keep on trusting – confident that God is at work – and in the fullness of time – His will shall be done – Simeon had the courage to stay true – to his faith despite outward appearances or events – and so must we-

If we trust Jesus Christ – as our Saviour – and salvation – then we have done the one thing – that we need to do above all else –

The story of Simeon – reminds us too – that we are not hear by accident – that God has a purpose for each one of our lives – wherever we are –

For some it will be active – in the public eye – preaching – or taking God’s love to meet the practical needs of others – for others it will be quiet – away from the public eye – praying prayerfully to God – to act in fulfillment of His promises – For most – it will be a mixture of the two –

Mary and Joseph needed Simeon at that moment – and the old man needed them – Simeon and the Holy Family – were willing to wait for God’s timing – and so must we – if we don’t we will miss the good things – God has in store for us –  



Simeon’s song is an incredible expression of faith and hope at the close of His life –

Like Him we must say faithful – and be ready to hold – the Christ child – when He comes


Prayer to finish

I am a flower quickly fading – here today and gone tomorrow – a wave tossed in the ocean – a vapour in the wind –
still you here me when I’m calling – still you catch me when I’m falling – and you’ve told me who I am – I’m yours – I’m yours –
Not because of who I am – but because of what you’ve done -Not because of what I’ve done – but because of who you are