“This Thing That Has Happened” — Part Two
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“This Thing That Has Happened” — Part Two

Luke 2:22-38  (ID: 3533)

After a prolonged period of silence, God’s word came to His people through a devout Jewish man named Simeon. In accordance with the law, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord. When Simeon beheld Jesus, he took Him in his arms and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, declared that he could die in peace because his eyes had seen God’s salvation. As Alistair Begg explains, our only hope for peace with God is to receive the deliverance He provides.


Sermon Transcript: Print

We’re going to read again from the Bible, in the Gospel of Luke and in chapter 2, and I invite you to follow along as I read from the twenty-second verse. Luke 2:22:

“And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him”—that is, Jesus—“up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.’ Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him 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.’

“And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’

“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

“And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.”

Amen.

I invite you to turn again to Luke chapter 2 and to the passage that we just read. And as we turn to the Bible, a prayer for God’s help:

Almighty God, who endued the apostles with singular gifts of the Holy Spirit so that they proclaimed your Word with power, grant to me, as I prepare to minister and teach in your holy name, the same Spirit of wisdom and love and power, that the truth you gave me to declare may search the conscience, convince the mind, and win the heart of those who hear it, that the glory of your kingdom may be advanced through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Well, six years ago, I noted in my little black book a comment by a journalist that I’ve quoted to you before. The journalist was bemoaning the state of journalism. And this was, as I say, six years ago—so, whenever that was; ’15, I guess. And the quote went like this: the journalist said, “[We are] awash in media-generated emotion. ‘How [do] you feel?’ has replaced ‘What happened?’ as the obligatory question that reporters ask.”[1]

I was thinking about it this week, because as you come to the familiar material of the Christmas story, it is inevitable that there is an emotional attachment to it. It would be very, very strange if that was not the case. However, whatever emotional surge there may be or emotional reaction there may be, the real question is: What actually happened? And that is why we set ourselves, last time, the task of considering what Luke tells us in chapter 2 about “this thing that has happened,”[2] and why we said last time, and reinforce it again, that Luke is very, very clear that he is not writing poetry, but he is recording history. And what has happened is there described, and then, at the same time, it is explained.

And here in chapter 2, as we sought to understand—helped by, as I said, my friend Wilcock—we realized that the key person in each of these three incidents here is the one who provides the word of explanation: the word of explanation concerning the identity of Jesus, provided by the angel, as we saw last time; the word concerning who this message is for, as we’re about to see this morning, provided by Simeon; and then, God willing, next Sunday morning, the word of explanation that is provided by none other than the Lord Jesus himself.[3] So, in these three incidents, the central figure in each one is the one who tells us these important truths about Jesus.

And so, it is important that we recognize that the coming of Jesus into the world would actually mean nothing to anybody were it not for the way in which the Bible gives the explanation of what has taken place. And it is for that reason that we’re paying attention to it. In this second event, the scene moves. We’ve now moved from the stable, or we’ve moved from the manger, and we’ve moved into the temple. And the message comes from the mouth of God via the mouth of Simeon himself.

These God-ordained events are to be understood in light of God-inspired utterances.

Now, it is important, too, to recognize that Luke is not providing this information and suggesting that everyone, as a reader, should just go away and make of it whatever they possibly can. And at the risk of just emphasizing this to the point of extinction, it is vitally important that we pay attention to this. He provides us not only with a description of what has taken place, but he is focusing on what was said so that we might have the explanation.

In fact, in his introduction, in the very beginning of his Gospel, remember, where he says, “Many [people] have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses”—and notice the phrase that I hadn’t really looked at, and I thought about it this week: “who … were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word.”[4] They were “ministers of the word.” In other words, the word is the significant thing. You can do whatever you like as you respond to the pictures and the stable and the cattle lowing and the baby not crying and all the things that are in our nursery rhymes. But in the midst of all of that, we’re paying attention to the word that has been spoken.

Now, you recognize, too, that there had been four hundred years of silence between the end of the prophetic ministry and what we have here now at the beginning of the New Testament. And they had been a silent era. The people had been used to the words of the prophets, but the prophets’ word had apparently gone away, and people would have said, “I wonder when, if ever, it will return.” And what we discover here now is that God speaks by the mouth of angels and by men, so that these God-ordained events are to be understood in light of God-inspired utterances. Okay? So, we’re not simply saying, “I wonder what happened.” We’re actually seeking to discover just why it happened and what it means, having happened.

With all that said, we follow the pattern of last time: description, explanation, and application.

The Description

First of all, then, the event as it is described for us.

You will notice that Mary and Joseph—verse 22—are proceeding with their lives “according to the Law of Moses.” I’m not going to delay on this. I’m going to leave it to you for your homework to go back into Leviticus 12 and to Exodus chapter 13 and to enjoy yourselves there. You can trust me on this, and you can verify it by your own study.

You will notice that three things are involved: circumcision, in verse 21; purification, in verse 22; and presentation, also in 22—each of these things as prescribed by the law of God: the first taking place when the child is only eight days old; the time of purification for the mother, in giving birth, running for over thirty days, so that by the time the presentation of the child in the temple is taking place, some six weeks or so have elapsed.

And you will notice that Luke here emphasizes the fact that this man and his wife were fastidious when it came to the law of God. If you notice, it appears in verse 22, “according to the Law of Moses”; in verse 23, “as it is written in the Law”; again in verse 24, “[as it] is said in the Law”; again in verse 27, “to do … according to the custom of the Law”; and down—where is it?—there in verse 39, “And when they had performed everything according to the Law…”

Now, we’ve been studying our Bibles well enough and long enough to know that repetition is there in order that we might not miss the point. So we recognize that they are an example of Jewish piety. Of Jewish piety. Piety has a negative connotation in contemporary language. It shouldn’t, but it does, and it is used properly when we find it here. They were pious. They were committed to God, they were committed to God’s law, and they were committed to doing the right thing. That’s why it says in 39 that it was only “when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord” that they returned to Galilee. Dale Ralph Davis, in a wonderful little sentence, says, “Jesus is a very kosher Savior.” He “is a very kosher Savior.” He is a Jewish boy growing up in a Jewish home with a devout Jewish mom and dad. We dare not miss this.

So that he provides for us an understanding of their piety, and he also gives to us an indication of their poverty. “Well,” you say, “well, where does that come out?” Well, you will see it there in verse 24: that they came there “to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.’” When you go back and do your homework, you will find that the law of God required two sacrifices by way of the purification. One would be a lamb, and the other would be a pigeon. The law made provision for poor people, so that a second pigeon could be offered in place of a lamb if they could not afford a lamb. And you will notice here that they clearly couldn’t, and that is that they were offering these two young pigeons.

Not only were they pious, but they were poor. Jesus was not born to a ruler but to a carpenter. His mother was not a princess; she was a peasant girl and socially insignificant. No one would have picked her out in the crowd. She wouldn’t be the obvious person in the high school yearbook. No, none of that at all.

In fact, I think I was helped—and I hope you are helped, too—by looking at that scene as it is described for us there and saying to oneself, “You know, there are some distinct echoes of Hannah and Samuel in this.” And, of course, there are. We won’t go all the way back there, but you will remember that in the giving of the baby to Hannah after all the pain that preceded it, she weaned him, and she nursed him, and after she had done all of that, then she took him, and she said, “I have lent him to the Lord,” and “As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”[5] In the law of God, the firstborn that opened the womb was to be presented to the service of God. So, once again, what is described for us here is entirely in keeping with what you would expect in a devout Jewish home.

Now, when you think about this—and certainly I don’t know what it feels like, clearly, to be a mother. I have observed from close quarters on a number of occasions, and I have overheard conversation. I would imagine that there comes a point even in these early weeks where in conversation, for example, between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, she might have said in response to a question—“How are things going in these early days?”—and Mary said, “Well, I think they’re going pretty well. I’m looking forward to a little bit of normality. I’m looking forward to things settling down.” And little did she realize that they weren’t about to settle down any time soon. Because after all of the drama that has surrounded the coming of Jesus and his birth, this normal routine is broken into in an extraordinary way by this encounter with a very ordinary man.

And in the same, you see the pattern here: that the message that comes from the angel is to shepherds—to shepherds who could not even contribute in a court of law. They were regarded as unscrupulous characters, that they were usually on the take. That was what they were known for. And so you couldn’t use them as witnesses in a court of law. Well, then why in the wide world would you send messages like this to unreliable witnesses? Why would you not come to the most obvious, the standout person from a castle or from a palace? But a Hebrew peasant girl! And now to this gentleman!

Look at it in verse 25: “Now there was a man in Jerusalem.” “There was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon.” And what do we know about him? Well, we noted that they were pious and they were poor, and we’re told here that he was “righteous” and he was “devout.” He knew his Bible—we could put it that way—because he was “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” That’s how we know he knew his Bible, because the whole of the Old Testament was looking forward to the one who would finally come and bring consolation to his people. Isaiah 40: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, [says the Lord].”[6] And the people say, “Yeah, but where is this comfort finally going to come from?” And again, the end of the prophetic era, the four hundred years of silence, and here in the temple is a devout man, a religious man, a Bible-reading man, an Old Testament man. And he is there at the exact moment for this encounter to take place.

Now, you will notice that just as Luke has underlined the place of the law in the lives of Mary and Joseph, he does so in relationship to the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of this man Simeon. You’ll notice it says in verse 25 that “there was a man in Jerusalem” (we know his name), “righteous,” “devout”—notice—“and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” In verse 26: “And [this was] revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.” And then in verse 27: “He came in the Spirit into the temple,” moved by the Spirit.

So in other words, he’s not operating haphazardly. He’s not clutching things out of the air. He’s not just having a funny moment to himself. No, this is a God-ordained moment. And he experiences—he has, if you like, an unusual experience of—both the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. “The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit. They are foolishness to him.”[7] They are only revealed by God. And you will remember it from last time: that when the shepherds say to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing which the Lord has made known unto us”[8]—the revelation of God, once again here, by the Holy Spirit.

And so it is that we refer to Simeon as a prophet, because he’s exercising a prophetic ministry—incidentally, a prophetic ministry that is shared by a lady (verses 36–38). We’re not going to say anything about Anna this morning, but it is a wonderful picture there. We’ve looked at her in the past. If Simeon is waiting, which he is, she is worshipping, and worshipping consistently, “with fasting and prayer night and day.” And she’s actually referred to as “a prophetess.” And she, like Simeon, understood her Bible—and it’s a synonym, really: “for the consolation of Israel” and “the redemption of Jerusalem.” They were both looking forward to the same thing.

Now, that is the context: Jewish mom and dad; a little boy carried in their arms into this context. There is a man there, and he’s in the right place at the right time. And incidentally, he’s always portrayed as elderly, but it doesn’t actually say he’s elderly. It does say that Anna is elderly. It would appear that he probably is. The older you get in life, you’re allowed to do things that you wouldn’t be able to do in the same way. For example, once you’re old, I mean, you could say something like, “Would it be okay if I held your baby?” I mean, you can’t just do that in the mall if you’re twenty-three years old or something. But if you’re old and decrepit, someone might do that. They’d say, “Well, he’s an old man, you know, he would like to…” “Was it okay if I hold your baby?” And Mary looks at Joseph. Joseph says, “Hey…”

The Explanation

And that takes us from description to explanation.

So, the angel had brought the news that a Savior had been born. Simeon now tells us that he’s looking at God’s salvation lying in his arms. “He took him”—that is, Jesus—“up in his arms and blessed God …: ‘Lord, now you [can let] your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation.’” Notice the pronoun: “your salvation.” It’s the salvation of God. It’s the salvation that God has provided. It is the God who has loved the world so much that he has given…[9] And Simeon takes the child in his arms, and he says, “I now have seen your salvation.”

How in the world is it possible to die in peace? Only as Simeon was enabled to die: by looking in on and receiving to oneself the salvation of God.

Notice that he applies this first of all to himself. He applies it personally. Personally. “I’ve been waiting,” he says, “for this. I’ve been looking for the fulfillment of the prophetic word. And now, right now,” he says, “in this moment, the waiting is over. And you can let me depart in peace.” Essentially, he says, “I can die now. I can die now.”

It’s quite dramatic, isn’t it? By nature, men and women are afraid to die. We should be, because “it is appointed unto men once to die,” and “after this [comes] judgment.”[10] We will meet with the living God. How in the world is it possible to die in peace? Only as Simeon was enabled to die: by looking in on and receiving to oneself the salvation of God.

You see, when you think about what is described for us here and the explanation that is provided by Simeon, it is inevitable that we make application to ourselves. We must. Just in the same way as he took the baby into his arms, so the Bible talks about our receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. It doesn’t just talk about an intellectual assent; it talks about an actual engagement. It talks about it in very personal terms, very individual terms—talks about it as something that is not private, but it is personal. And Simeon helps us with that.

Not only does he apply it, if you like, personally, but he also applies it globally: “My eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.” This doesn’t happen in a corner, he says. This has been coming. And it is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” In other words, he recognizes… And again, you see, this is the work of the Spirit of God. Because otherwise, people would say, “I don’t understand any of that. I don’t get that. I know there was a Jesus. I knew he was born. I heard that. We saw that. We sent out Christmas cards. I get all of that.” But that doesn’t make you a Christian. That just means you know certain things.

No, if you’re a Christian, it’s different. Because you say, “This is the salvation of God. This is the only salvation that God has provided. He is my Savior, and he is the Savior of the world.” That’s what he’s actually saying. He takes this baby, born to a Hebrew peasant girl and a carpenter husband, and he says, “I am looking at the salvation of Almighty God. I am looking at the fulfillment of the promises of God from all of eternity.” That’s what he’s saying. Through this child, God is going to work out the salvation of mankind. That’s what he’s actually saying.

And I say to you again: that is why it is of vital importance that when we view the scene, we do so in light of the explanation that is given. And the mouthpiece of God here is Simeon. He is a Jewish man in the City of David, in a Jewish temple, declaring the fulfillment of the Servant Songs of the Old Testament.

You can do these on your own at home. You can go to Isaiah and read the Servant Songs. You’ll find them there. You can wonder, as the prophet wondered in his day, what was going on when the prophet says, speaking from God, “I am the Lord”—“I am Yahweh”—“I have called you in righteousness,” speaking to his servant, his servant Israel. Jesus is the fulfillment of that.

 I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
 [as] a light for the nations,
 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
 [and] from the prison those who sit in darkness.[11]

And the prophet’s writing this, and his wife says, “Who is this?” And he says, “I don’t know who it is, but it will be somebody.” And he goes into the synagogue in Nazareth where he was born, and he picks up the scroll of the prophet, and what does he read? “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to open the eyes of the blind, to release the prisoners from the dungeons, to set aside the darkness.”[12] This is what is happening here. It’s phenomenal!

That was 42:6. In 49, he says, again, speaking,

It is too light a thing that you should be my servant.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
 … to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
 that my salvation may reach to the end[s] of the earth.[13]

Speaking of whom? Speaking of his servant. Who is this servant? Ultimately, Christ. How is it that this apparently elderly man in the Jerusalem temple would be able to join the dots and make it clear? By the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is what God does: he opens blind eyes, and he softens hard hearts. And if you believe in Jesus today, that is exactly what he’s done for you. You’re not smart enough to figure it out on your own, and you’re not too dumb that you couldn’t work it out. He does it by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is the only explanation for genuine, believing Christian faith. You can have religion out your yazoo. You can go to church for a month of Sundays. You can do whatever you want. But only when the Spirit of God comes and opens your eyes, settles your heart, then you will say, “Now my eyes have seen this salvation. Now I recognize this. And furthermore, I can’t possibly keep this to myself. This is for the gentiles, for the whole world, and this is for the glory of Israel.”

Did you get that? The glory of Israel. God’s people, Israel. It is from Israel that God’s salvation has come to us. Christ, Messiah, Yeshua, was born, I say again to you, to a Hebrew peasant girl. “Salvation is from the Jews.”[14] God gave to Israel the patriarchs. He gave to them the covenants of promise. He gave to them the law. He gave to them the prophets.[15] And finally and in these last days, he gave to them Jesus as their crowning glory. “He is the glory of my people Israel.”

Oh, as I drive around these communities—a few times to the clinic this week—always down, in, and through, past all these amazing synagogues, I say to myself in the car out loud, “Jesus, you are the glory of your people Israel.” What an amazing thing the Evil One has done, to turn Jewish people so dramatically against the only one who is their glory, who is their actual Messiah and their King. How in the world can it ever be? Only by the same mighty Holy Spirit of God that came to his servant Simeon. And Simeon says, “Oh, I get it now. I see it.”

We daren’t delay here, but I’m stirred by it even as I say it to you. I think about it all the time. In 2 Corinthians 3 (I have so many Jewish friends): “To this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to [Yahweh], the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord…” What is “the glory of the Lord”? Christ, ultimately. And we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”[16] The whole context is glory there in 2 Corinthians 3. You can read it on your own.

Yeah. Do you remember the lady at the well? “How come you’re talking to me, you being a man, you being a Jew? Where should we worship? We think this. You think that.” And Jesus says, “Hey, listen. You worship what you don’t know; and we worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews.”[17] That is what is being affirmed here. Hence the role of Simeon.

Now, what is the response? Well, what would you expect the response to be? It’s there in verse 33. “And his father and his mother said, ‘Oh yeah, that makes sense.’” No: “His father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.” “Oh,” you say, “but they’d already had the angelic visit, in the darkness of the night, to Joseph, in a dream; in the surrounding atmosphere with the choirs of angels, with the advance in the context of the manger.” Yeah, but nevertheless, they “marveled at what was said about him.”

And Simeon says, “Well, there is a little more, Mary. There is a dark side to this, Mary. Because this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is opposed. And you’re not going to escape it either, because a sword will pierce you.” In other words, this salvation that is found in Christ will come at a cost.

It’s very possible to disregard a sentimental Christmas, but to come face-to-face with this forces a decision. Jesus would explain it in time, wouldn’t he? He said, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it. Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”[18] You follow through in the ministry of Jesus, and the encounter he has with people and the parables that he speaks and so on makes this point very, very clear. Unless you fall, you will never rise. Unless you fall before him and acknowledge your need of him as a Savior, you will never rise to know the gift that is his. Some will fall. Some will rise.

The sign will be spoken against. Signs run all the way through the Old Testament. A rainbow. (That’s another story for another day.) An ark. Pillar of fire, pillar of cloud. They came to Jesus and said, “What sign are you going to give us?” And he said, “Well, I’m not going to give you any sign, save for the sign of the prophet of [Jonah].”[19] And then in John chapter 3, he says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so … the Son of Man [will] be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”[20] There’s the sign. “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the [symbol] of suffering and pain.”[21] There’s the sign.

Unless you fall before Jesus and acknowledge your need of him as a Savior, you will never rise to know the gift that is his. Some will fall. Some will rise.

Have you driven behind those cars that have those satanic symbols with an upturned cross? Have you driven behind those cars that have the fish, the ichthús, “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior,” reversed, to turn it into “Darwin”? Why do they speak against the sign? Have you heard people saying, “You know, I like the idea of a Jesus, but that stuff about a cross sounds so stupid to me, so unnecessary—all that stuff about blood as a sacrifice for sin. I detest all of that.” Oh no you don’t—not if you’re a Christian. Why is there such opposition to the sign? Well, it’s here. It’s prophesied here: it will be “a sign that is opposed.” And by means of him, the thoughts of the hearts of men and women will be revealed. “And Mary, a sword will puncture your heart too.”

Mary knew that Jesus was to be the Savior. How often do you think she recalled this statement made by Simeon on that day in the temple, about six weeks or so post-birth? I think a lot of times. Because she was his mom. She was concerned about Jesus, the way your mom is concerned about you. No, every mom loves it when someone says, “You know, I saw your boy, and he was such a nice boy. He did such a nice thing.” No mom wants to hear, “I hate your boy. I despise that kid. I hope I never see him again.” That’s painful.

Mary had a big family—contrary to what certain segments of Christendom say. He had four brothers, maybe two or three sisters as well. She had a lot of people to look after. She didn’t like to hear in the streets that he was “despised and rejected.” She didn’t like the fact that he was despised as “a man of sorrows,” that he was “acquainted with grief.”[22] She didn’t want to stand there at the foot of the cross and watch that scene. What was all that about? He’s the Savior! Without the shedding of blood, there would be no remission of sins. The gift of salvation comes at great cost. He bears our sin in his body on the tree.[23]

The Application

“Well,” you say, “we must be almost finished.” Yes, we are. Let me say just two things by way of application.

Jesus is the Light of the World. He’s the light for the gentiles. He’s the glory of Israel. He’s the whole deal. There isn’t another one coming, and there was no one before him who could take his place. Therefore, Christianity is inescapably and unashamedly a missionary faith. It is inescapably and unashamedly a missionary faith. In other words, if I am in Christ, it behooves me to make much of that by life and by lip so that others may share that with me—to tell other people that in Jesus there is a full and a free forgiveness for everyone who puts their trust in him; he is the one who stays our sin, who deals with our lurking fears, who lifts our burdens; and to say to people, “Just as Simeon received him, so must we.”

“Oh, but,” says somebody, “you know, I’ve tried my best, I’m not a very good person,” and so on. “I haven’t been very religious.” That’s fine. Don’t worry about that just now. We’ll talk about that later. Jesus—follow his ministry. He didn’t go for the religious people. He went for the irreligious people. Follow his path. He doesn’t appeal to those who are doing their best. He actually reaches out for those who’ve done their worst. That’s why he’s the Light. That’s why it’s good news.

You see, there is no one who doesn’t need Jesus’ offer of salvation. There’s not a single person within earshot of my words right now—not a single person—who does not need Christ’s offer of salvation. And there is no one to whom he does not make that offer. There is no one who does not need it, and there is no one to whom he does not address that offer. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so [will] the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” So, it’s the same story every day: by our acceptance or rejection of Jesus, we make clear where we stand.

There are two great duties, really, that fall to each of us when we consider the Gospel record. And there are more, but definitely these, for everyone who hears the gospel: number one, duty number one, to accept Christ as Savior; and duty number two, to make that Savior known so that others may also come to know and love him.

That’s the story, again, of the woman at the well, isn’t it? “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did. This surely must be the Messiah.”[24] And eventually, as the story unfolds, they say, “You know, we no longer believe just because of what you told us, but we have actually come to believe. We heard it for ourselves, and we believe in him.”[25]

You’re here this morning with your mom and dad, and you’ve believed through them, as it were: “Well, they believe; therefore, I must be in on it the same way. I mean, they put gas in the car; I ride in the car. I don’t put the gas in the car that gets me where I’m going. I guess I’m sort of in on the deal.” Maybe you think you’re in on the deal in terms of what it means to know Jesus. No, you need to come to the point where you say, “You know, I’m very grateful to you, Mom and Dad, that you told me these things. But today, I understood it for myself, and I believe. I believe.”

Oh, believe. Believe. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Gracious, almighty God, come to us as you came to Simeon of old. Move in our hearts. Show us ourselves, show us the Savior, and grant that the welcome that Simeon extended may be the welcome of each one of us on the very threshold of our celebration of this Christmas event. For we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.


[1] Joe Morgenstern, “The Best Films of 2015: Blessings, Great and Small,” Wall Street Journal, Dec. 17, 2015, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-best-film-of-2015-blessings-great-and-small-1450401991.

[2] Luke 2:15 (ESV).

[3] Michael Wilcock, The Message of Luke: The Saviour of the World, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1984), 42–45.

[4] Luke 1:1–2 (ESV).

[5] 1 Samuel 1:28 (ESV).

[6] Isaiah 40:1 (KJV).

[7] 1 Corinthians 2:14 (paraphrased).

[8] Luke 2:15 (paraphrased).

[9] See John 3:16.

[10] Hebrews 9:27 (KJV).

[11] Isaiah 42:6–7 (ESV).

[12] Luke 4:18 (paraphrased).

[13] Isaiah 49:6 (ESV).

[14] John 4:22 (ESV).

[15] See Romans 9:4.

[16] 2 Corinthians 3:15–18 (ESV).

[17] John 4:9, 20, 22 (paraphrased).

[18] Matthew 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25 (paraphrased).

[19] Matthew 12:38–39 (paraphrased). See also Matthew 16:4; Luke 11:29–30.

[20] John 3:14 (ESV).

[21] George Bennard, “The Old Rugged Cross” (1913).

[22] Isaiah 53:3 (ESV).

[23] See 1 Peter 2:24.

[24] John 4:29 (paraphrased).

[25] John 4:42 (paraphrased).

Copyright © 2022, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.