Luke 2:25-38; Matthew 2:1-12, 16-18
PURPOSE – In looking at the six people/personalities we see in this message the question should arise, “Which personality do I fit?”, and lead us to a close walk with our personal Lord, Savior, and God.
I. HEROD – AN EXAMPLE OF “ROYALTY” WHO HATED KING JESUS (v. Matthew 2:16-18).
II. THE WISE MEN [MAGI] – AN EXAMPLE OF THOSE WHO SEEK HIM FROM FAR AWAY (Matthew 2:1-12).
III. SHEPHERDS – AN EXAMPLE OF THE LOWLY WHO ARE CALLED TO WORSHIP HIM (Luke 2:8-9).
IV. PRIESTS AND SCRIBES – AN EXAMPLE OF THE RELIGIOUS, INDIFFFERENT CROWD (Matthew 2:4).
V. ANNA – THOSE FAITHFUL IN PRAYER DESPITE THE TIMES AND TRIBULATIONS THEY EXPERIENCE (Luke 2:36-38).
VI. SIMEON – THOSE WHO ARE FAITHFUL IN EXPECTATION OF THE LORD’S COMING (Luke 2:25-35).
In looking at this list there are more we could include probably, but some, such as the “Inn keeper” who had no room, we have no details of him. Joseph and Mary we have already looked at in the last message. We could also think about the soldiers who murdered all the infant males in Bethlehem at the orders of king Herod. You can tell by those I have mentioned here that there are more than we often think about. The six listed above are the ones I want us to consider in this message.
HEROD – AN EXAMPLE OF “ROYALTY” WHO HATED KING JESUS (v. Matthew 2:16-18). Herod was a jealous king. One of whom has recorded history of being jealous of his sons and having them slaughtered so he could keep his “throne”.
When he hears from the “Magi” that there is a “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2) he calls for an urgent and diligent search where this King would be born. He calls for the Priests and scribes. They inform Herod that it is in Bethlehem, quoting Micah 5:2.
Herod asks the “wise men” to let him know when this child is found so that “I may worship Him to” (Matthew 2:8). In his heart he was still that jealous envious “king” who wanted no one to take his throne. Herod was actually a puppet king of Rome, and he wanted nothing to do with the worship of a “King of the Jews” he was the king of the Jews. His intent was to destroy Him, and it mattered not what the cost.
THE WISE MEN [MAGI] – AN EXAMPLE OF THOSE WHO SEEK HIM FROM FAR AWAY (Matthew 2:1-12). These men who came, with no number mentioned as to how many there were, were Gentiles from some land away from Israel. We are not told where they are from. This is, however, evidence that God is sending His Son to and for the salvation of the whole world.
The following is from the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE;
“wise men from the East. The number of wise men is not given. The traditional notion that there were 3 stems from the number of gifts they brought. These were not kings, but Magi, magicians or astrologers–possibly Zoroastrian wise men from Persia whose knowledge of Hebrew Scriptures could be traced back to the time of Daniel (cf. Dan. 5:11).”
From THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, note on Matthew 2:1, p. 1394, NKJV.
It almost appears in reading these verses that the “wise men” were the only ones interested in the star. Not everyone is an star gazer, but God used this “Star” or whatever it was to capture the attention of three Gentile men, and they came and worshipped the King (Matthew 2:11).
Some one has said, “Wise men still seek Him”, and of that it is sure. Though God may not in our day be using a star to guide men to Himself; He still uses circumstances, at times, and in some cultures He uses dreams that will cause the recipient of the dream to search out a messenger of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God uses other people that may cause someone in another culture and another religion to search for the Jesus of the Bible.
Some may wonder well, “What do you do with that verse that says, ‘no one seeks for God’? and my answer to that is, They would not had God not been drawing them to Himself.
The “wise men” followed the direction of the Hebrew Scripture and they have been forever remembered by our Lord and God. Those same Hebrew Scriptures are in the Christian Bible.
SHEPHERDS – AN EXAMPLE OF THE LOWLY WHO ARE CALLED TO WORSHIP HIM (Luke 2:8-9). The shepherds of Israel, the lowliest of society were the first to be notified of the birth of Jesus; and they were notified by the angels of heaven. Oh, what glory, joy and rejoicing they brought to the lowly that night.
Shepherds were told where to find the “Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). He was to be found in the manger where He lay. Is there any better place to find a new born Lamb than in a manger?
In the world when a king is going to make an appearance the papers, the news stations make it clear and plain that the king is going to come, but invitations to see the king, visit with the king, dine with the king only go to the elite, and politically, and financially powerful ones. This Kings appearace was revealed to the lowly of society.
In this we see that God cares for the people of all social levels; and I would add that if God tilts the scales in any favor it would probably be toward the lowly.
Are you hurting from financial troubles, loss of your job, illness, major health problems, disease, troubled marriage, divorce, death of a loved one? Then, this message is for you. More importantly; Jesus is calling you to Himself.
PRIESTS AND SCRIBES – AN EXAMPLE OF THE RELIGIOUS, INDIFFFERENT CROWD (Matthew 2:4). Here were the people, the men, who would have been the most familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures. They were the religious ones. They would have known the Scriptures which foretold the coming of their long awaited Messiah/King. It just seems that they were unmoved by this request from the Magi. They seem as though they don’t even care.
There are many religious leaders who are engulfed in their business of ministry. They are “Professional” at what they do. They are always dressed in the proper attire (Please note this is not a slam against dressing decently and proper), speak professionally in their words, have their religion wrapped up in liturgy, lithargic learning that usually has nothing to do with Biblical understanding, but cultural, societal, and ecumenical unity. While all they time paying no attention to the signs of the times in which we live that loudly proclaim that the Savior is near.
ANNA – THOSE FAITHFUL IN PRAYER DESPITE THE TIMES AND TRIBULATIONS THEY EXPERIENCE (Luke 2:36-38). Anna was a young woman when she became a widow after being married for only 7 years. She spent her time in the temple praying. She had been a widow for 84 years, and had spent day and night in the temple praying.
We are not told why her young husband had died, and it is not necessary for us to know. What we know is about Anna and her faithfulness to the Lord. Her prayers must have been somewhat similar to that of Zachariah, which was partly for the coming of a deliverer for the nation of Israel, and they may have been seeking for the whole world as well.
After spending all those years praying for the appearing of this child, this Son of God, she recognizes Him, and gives thanks to God; and “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (v. 38).
These things surrounding the birth of our Lord shout loudly to all who will hear, and to those who refuse to hear, that Jesus is God’s Christ, God’s Son, and is the only means of salvation in the world.
SIMEON – THOSE WHO ARE FAITHFUL IN EXPECTATION OF THE LORD’S COMING (Luke 2:25-35). Simeon is an interesting character, and is often overlooked, even more is said of him than Anna.
We need to remember that this prophecy, along with the words of and about Anna took place on the eighth day after our Lord’s birth. There was ceremony, circumcision, and worship conducted at the temple on this wonderful day.
Simeon was a man to whom the Lord had revealed that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ (v. 26). He was a man getting up into years. We are told that he was a just and devout man. He was a man who feared God, and had been declared by God to be just, ie. made right with God. Just as Anna is faithful in prayer, so is Simeon faithful in expectations of the Lord’s coming to deliver His people.
Simeon speaks to Joseph and Mary and all those present. Let’s see what things he spoke:
1. “let me depart in peace”;
2. Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation;
3. Prepared before the face of all people;
4. A light to the Gentiles;
5. The glory of the people of Israel.
The things he spoke to Mary and Joseph:
1. The child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel;
2. A sign which shall be spoken against, as a sword shall pierce your soul
3. That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
This “sign” that is spoken against is evidently the cross on which he would die. That was the piercing of her soul, and at this cross the hearts of many are revealed. It was the wicked and vileness of men’s hearts that nailed Him on that cross. Yet, on that cross the atonement for sins was given through the precious, sinless, blood of the Lamb of God.
As Simeon was faithful to carry on the work of the Lord in his life we too are called to be faithful unto the coming of our Lord for His Bride and later in His glory.
Simeon loved the appearing of our Lord. The professing Christian who has a larger desire to make more money, acquire more things, see more family, etc, than desiring the return of the Lord should be looking at their hearts true condition. One evidence of the true Christian experience is expectation of our Lord’s return.
Have a heart like the “Wise men” who seek Him, and worship Him; like the shepherds who saw and heard the call and worshipped Him; and a heart like that of Anna who continued in fasting and prayer night and day until that day she could bless Jesus, and be a blessing; and finally have a heart like Simeon who long awaited the coming of the King of the Jews, their Messiah, Deliverer, and Savior. Our Lord Jesus is coming returning soon for the Church; and later in all His glory, and the whole world will see Him.
Call on His name for salvation, before it is forever too late.
-Tim A. Blankenship