Contentment in Christ
In observing creation, we can see the Creator is powerful, all-knowing, and magnificent in every way. We marvel at the sheer size and power of what God has made.
In observing creation, we can easily come to the conclusion that the Creator is very dangerous. After all, the world we live in is full of danger. There are wild, vicious animals. We can die from eating the wrong plant or fruit. The world has earthquakes, volcanoes, lightning, and tornadoes. Every day is lived in peril as we live out a fragile existence of not falling into a pit, getting enough oxygen to breathe, and making sure we don’t starve or freeze to death.
Thankfully, we have more than creation to teach us about the Creator. We have written communication from the Creator; the Holy Bible. The Bible proves it can only be written by God.
The Bible teaches us that God is loving and good. His Holy Word reveals to us who God is and how we may have a relationship with Him. Luke’s Gospel is among the books of the Bible that instructs us how we may have a personal, intimate relationship with God, our Creator.
Today’s passage in Luke, 2:22-40, speaks of four people, Joseph, Mary, Simeon, and Anna, of which God is pleased. They have a relationship with God because they relate to Him according to His standards. We can learn how we may relate to God by observing these saints.
God is Covenantal
God is covenantal. He establishes covenants with people. Covenants are agreements, a contract. God makes many covenants. We are most familiar with the ones He made with Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David.
Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus, are in a good relationship with God. Joseph is righteous before God (Matthew 1:19). The angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is in good favor with God. Both are pleasing in God’s sight.
The way to please God during the days of Joseph and Mary is to abide by the Mosaic Covenant. God is pleased with how they live according to the Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant has 613 commands. There are 248 “do this” commands and 365 “don’t do that” commands. All 613 commands are summed up in two laws, “love God, and love your neighbor.”
One of the reasons Joseph and Mary are pleasing to God is that they joyfully and willingly keep the law. They travel from Bethlehem to Jerusalem with an infant to fulfill the requirements according to the covenant.
Thirty-three days after Jesus’ circumcision, Mary and Joseph enter the temple to purify themselves from the impurities encountered during the birth (Leviticus 12). They also desire to present Jesus as holy to the Lord. The reason for them to present Jesus is because God spared all the firstborn of Israel when they were in Egypt (Exodus 13). The parents are to remind their firstborn of God’s work in Egypt when He killed all the Egyptian firstborn but spared the Israelites. Part of remembering God’s mercy is to pay a price of redemption to the Levites.
God is a covenant God. Joseph and Mary have a pleasing relationship with God because they joyfully and willingly obey the covenant.
Application: Are you mindful of your covenant responsibilities?
We do not live in the same covenant as Joseph and Mary. The Mosaic Covenant is complete. The child Joseph and Mary bring to the Temple ends the Mosaic Covenant and establishes a New Covenant.
Our Bible is divided into two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The word testament is another word for covenant. We should call the two sections, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
We sometimes refer to the New Covenant as the “Law of Christ.” We might also refer to the two sections of the Bible as “The Old Law for having a right relationship with God, and “The New Law for having a right relationship with God.”
Some people wrongly believe there are no commands for the New Covenant. They understand it as a law of grace. Nothing can be further from the truth. The New Covenant has more commands than the Old Covenant. There are more than twice as many commands in the New Covenant; there are over 1000 commands.
The Bible teaches we are to obey the Law of Christ of the New Covenant. It is important to obey the commands, but it is equally important to obey the commands for the right reason. What makes Joseph and Mary righteous is their attitude toward the law.
Joseph and Mary don’t read the Mosaic Covenant thinking God is unfair or wants them to be unhappy. They don’t obey God to earn points with God or so God owes them a favor. They gladly obey the covenant because they know it is for their good. They trust God.
Joseph and Mary obey because they desire to please God. They love Him. God looks at their hearts and He knows they love Him.
In the same way, we are to read the New Testament commands as instructions on how to have a pleasing relationship with God. When we are in Christ, being a child of God is secure. However, as a child of God, we can live in ways that are not pleasing to God.
The New Testament is written so we may know how to please our Heavenly Father. The Apostle Paul says to the Colossians, he prays for them that they may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that they will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects (Colossians 1:9-10).
Obeying our covenant responsibilities strengthens our relationship with God and results in good fruit in our lives on earth.
God requires Sacrifice for sin
To be in a covenantal relationship with God requires that a price is paid for breaking His laws.
Joseph and Mary are guilty of sin. The Mosaic Covenant requires Joseph and Mary to offer a sacrifice for their sin. They offer a sacrifice of two turtledoves.
Joseph and Mary offer two turtledoves because they are poor. The law requires a lamb for the burnt offering and turtledove for the sin offering. But, in the case of not having enough money, it is acceptable to substitute a turtledove for the lamb.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary is without sin. This verse teaches otherwise. Joseph and Mary make a sacrifice because they acknowledge before God that they are sinners.
According to the covenant they have with God, in order for them to have a right relationship with Him requires that Joseph and Mary make a blood sacrifice for sin.
Is Jesus the sacrifice for your sins?
Today, God still requires a blood sacrifice for sin. The good news is that we need not find a lamb, oxen, or turtledove. Jesus is our sin sacrifice.
The New Covenant sin sacrifice is not made with the blood of animals, such as bulls, lambs, or pigeons. It is a onetime sacrifice of Jesus’ blood for all sin.
The writer of Hebrews explains the sacrifice Jesus makes on the cross for our sins. He says that Jesus is the High Priest over all things. Jesus didn’t enter the Jerusalem temple, made with human hands, but He enters the perfect Temple in heaven. Jesus took His blood—not the blood of goats and calves—and entered the Most Holy Place once and for all. His blood redeems us forever.
Under the old covenant, the blood of goats and bulls cleanses people of sin. But, in the New Covenant of Christ, His blood is superior. It purifies us from sinful deeds so we may worship God with clean hearts. Jesus mediates a new covenant between God and us. In faith, we receive the eternal inheritance which God promises. (Hebrews 9:11-15)
The only sacrifice acceptable to God is the one made by Jesus on the cross. Are you a sinner? Is Jesus your sacrifice? Do you put your faith in the blood sacrifice of Jesus? If not, what is your plan? There are many religions, but only Christianity speaks of a sacrifice for sin. (BTW, there is no other option.)
Looking for Salvation
Luke introduces a third person who has a right relationship with God. The same day Joseph and Mary are in the courtyard of the Temple, Simeon is present. Luke describes him as righteous and devout.
We don’t know much about Simeon. What we do know is that he has a reputation as a man who obeys God and is openly loving of God. The Holy Spirit is upon Simeon, and he is looking for the consolation of Israel. That means Simeon is looking for and waiting for the Messiah.
God gives Simeon a revelation that he will not die until he sees the prophesied Messiah. He does not know who, when, or where. He does know the Messiah will bring comfort and salvation to Israel, and the Messiah will sit on David’s throne as the Prince of Peace. Simeon lives his life watching and waiting.
Imagine being Simeon, waking each day, and wondering, “Maybe today is the day I will see the Lord’s Messiah!”
Are you looking for Jesus?
Are you looking for Jesus? Are you looking for His salvation?
We also have a revelation from God’s Spirit. The Bible says Jesus is here. He is present. Jesus is the answer to all of our needs. He is our all in all.
The salvation of Jesus is an already, but not yet, existence. We are already saved. But we have not yet experienced all the blessings of salvation. We are together alive, risen and seated with Christ in the heavenly places. Not yet.
We experience Jesus today, and we look for His future return. He is coming again with life and liberty to all who believe. Our hope (sure hope, not wishful thinking) is Jesus returning to fetch us as His bride.
Did you know that we can look for Jesus in ways that are beyond His physical appearance? When we are looking for the truth, we look for Jesus because Jesus is the truth. When life is dark, and we look for the light, Jesus is the light of the world. When sin abounds, we look for Jesus because Jesus is our righteousness. To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to look for Jesus. We look for the appearance of Jesus when we look for those things that define His nature; goodness, mercy life, and holiness.
Let’s be a people like Simeon with the word “Maranatha” on our lips. “Come, o Lord!”
The testimony of Simeon
People with a revelation of Jesus give testimony that He is the Messiah. Gabriel, Zacharias, and the shepherds give testimony to Jesus. Simeon joins the chorus.
Joseph and Mary make their way through the courtyard at the Temple, and Simeon knows Jesus is the Messiah.
Jesus cannot speak. He doesn’t yet teach. He doesn’t perform miracles. He is a month old infant. How does Simeon know Jesus is the Messiah? He can’t tell by looking at Joseph and Mary. (Is it the ring over His head like we see in the pictures?) The Holy Spirit reveals to Simeon where, when, and who. The Holy Spirit in Simeon recognizes the presence of a member of the Trinity.
Simeon takes Jesus into his arms and gives thanks to God for allowing him to see his salvation. He says that Jesus is a Light of revelation to the Gentiles. Jesus is salvation for all nations. And Jesus is the glory of the people of Israel. Salvation is from the Jews (Luke 2:29-32).
Simeon is full of peace and contentment. He is assured God will save His people because his eyes see the Savior. His life is complete. Simeon is content. He needs nothing else.
God is pleased with Simeon because Simeon is content with Jesus.
Are you content with Jesus?
Are you content with Jesus? Do you feel as though your life is complete because your eyes have seen Jesus? We have not seen Jesus in the flesh, but we hear of God’s salvation from His Word.
We can chase after things of this world. Or we can be content with having Christ.
Jesus is the way. Are we content with the way He gives us? Jesus is the truth. Are we content with knowing His truth? Are we content with the life Jesus gives, or do we continue looking for more in this world?
A song describing contentment with Jesus is, “I’d rather have Jesus.”
I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold I'd rather be his than have riches untold
I'd rather have Jesus than houses or land
Yes I'd rather be led by his nail-pierced hands
Than to be the king of a vast domain and be held in sins dread sway
I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today
The Apostle Paul says:
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 3:7)
Are you content with Jesus?
Christ Brings Division
Joseph and Mary are amazed at how people speak of their son. They marvel and wonder.
Simeon prophecies to Mary.
“Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35)
Simeon foretells of the trouble Mary will face as the mother of Jesus. She will witness His crucifixion. Many people experience the death of a child. Imagine experiencing the crucifixion of your child when you know they are innocent.
Mary faces emotional heartache. But Simeon says others will experience spiritual devastation. Jesus is Savior, but not everyone receives His salvation. Many are violently opposed to Jesus.
Jesus said that some households would be split because of Him. Sons will be against fathers, mothers against daughters, and so forth (Matthew 10:34-36). Many who choose to follow Christ are hated by their family members and their friends.
People are amazed by Jesus, like Joseph and Mary. Or, they are opposed.
Are you amazed or opposed?
What is your reaction to Jesus? Are you amazed or opposed? There is no such thing as being in the middle. Jesus does not allow people to be in the middle. Either we pick up our cross and follow Jesus, or we walk away.
Jesus brings a sword. We witness families torn apart because a wife loves Jesus, and the husband does not. In the first century, synagogues split and Christians are killed by Jews. Riots break out in Ephesus when the silversmith idol market tumbles. Children in China tell the government about family members who are Christian and they are put in jail.
Are we willing to allow our children to suffer as a missionary? Or are we going to tell them it is more important to be successful in business? Are we willing to suffer for the sake of Christ? Or, will we walk away because the world hates Him, and the world is more important?
What about you? Are you amazed by Jesus, or are you opposed to His salvation?
Anna Proclaims Jesus
Luke introduces the fourth character, Anna. She is married for seven years, and her husband dies. She remains a widow for eighty-four years. She is likely over 100 years old.
Anna is very pious. She is not bitter toward God because God took her husband away. She spends her days and nights serving in the temple. She loves God and puts her faith and trust in Him.
After Simeon blesses Joseph and Mary, Anna approaches and begins giving thanks to God. She then continues to speak of Jesus to all who are looking for the Messiah to redeem Jerusalem.
Anna pleases God by being pious, trusting Him, and by looking to God for her salvation. When she hears Simeon proclaim Jesus is the Messiah, Anna tells all who will listen about Jesus.
Are you telling others about Jesus?
Telling others about Jesus is pleasing to God. Telling others about Jesus is a command of the New Covenant. Anna is not shy. Even as an elderly lady, she proclaims to all who are looking for redemption that Jesus is the answer.
Everyone needs redemption. To be redeemed is to be purchased from slavery. People needing redemption are in chains and bondage. This world is full of hurt. People are in bondage to addictions. People are slaves to destructive sinful behavior. Pride holds us captive. Men need to be redeemed from pornography. Women need to be redeemed from a culture stressing outward beauty. There are thousands and thousands of ways people are held captive and need redemption.
There is only one way for people to find redemption, and that is to hear about Jesus. Are you telling others about Jesus? Are you letting people know there is hope? There is light for the darkness. There is freedom for slavery. There is life after death.
People are suffering and need redemption. Be like Anna, and tell others Jesus is the Redeemer.
Jesus of Nazareth
The young family returns to Nazareth. While there, Jesus grows and increases in wisdom; and the grace of God is upon Him.
Main Idea: Find complete contentment in knowing Christ the Savior
As we leave here today, and as we contemplate this passage throughout the coming week, let’s remember the example of Simeon. Simeon sees Jesus, and He is completely content.
Let’s ask the Lord to help us be like Simeon and find complete contentment in putting our eyes on Jesus. Let’s count all things as rubbish compared to knowing Jesus as our Savior.