We hope and pray that everyone had a very Merry Christmas. The trees and decorations will soon be coming down, but does that really mean that Christmas is over? The Christmas carols will once again be put away for another year. But is Christmas really over? The most anticipated holiday of the year?
Christ the Savior is born - but He continues to be born in your heart and mine through His Word and sacraments, to be everything we need for salvation. He wasn’t born only for Mary and Joseph. And He wasn’t born only inside of Mary. He is also born in your heart, and in your soul. He continues to send His Spirit into our hearts to grant us the peace of sins forgiven, the peace that goes beyond all human understanding, and the assurance of everlasting life.
Where is Christ today? Christ is where His Word is. That means that when His Word dwells in our heart, so does He. He promised, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world”, as He sent His disciples out to preach and teach His Word. Even though He is now ascended into heaven, we still have His Word. We have His Spirit, who works through His Word, in our hearts, and in our souls. He doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves. He is with us in His Word.
Simeon got to hold the baby Jesus in his arms before departing in peace. And we might be thinking, what does this have to do with me?
But actually his story is also your story, and mine. His life is also your life and mine, and the life of every single Christain. God called on Simeon to believe in what he could not see. For many years, for many decades, God’s Word was all that he had. To wait on God’s promise, was all that he could do.
Isn’t that also your story and mine? We don’t always have a perfect answer for everything. We don’t always have everything figured out. We don’t always have a perfect understanding of why things are going the way they are. We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God, but we often wonder, why? We don’t know all the details of God’s plan for us. But by God’s Grace, we can always know and understand this: The Savior of the whole world is born. And He is everything that we need to be saved. We cannot see Him with our eyes. We cannot see this forgiveness or salvation happening to us. We can’t measure it in a lab. We cannot see the miracle of Baptism, or the miracle of Lord’s Supper, happening. Even Simeon who got to hold the baby Jesus in His arms – still then - all he had was God’s Word, because Jesus did not look like God. He did not look like the Son of God. He has no form or comeliness that we should desire Him, Isaiah says.
We are Simeon. All we have is God’s Word. And God says, “believe, and you will never be let down.” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” That’s faith: believing in what cannot be seen and measured in a lab. That’s why faith is so special. We can’t buy it. We can’t sell it. We can’t see it. We can’t hold it in our hand. We can’t measure it in a lab. We can’t give it to someone else. We can’t have it for someone else. We can’t look into someone’s heart and see the true faith. All we can do, is believe - in Christ, the only Savior. He is the only one with a perfect, sinless birth, who was born to take our sins away. And God promises He will never let us down.
Christ is the rock that doesn’t move, that always remains faithful and sure, the rock-solid foundation. “Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.”
It was revealed to Simeon that he would not see death until he had seen Jesus Christ. He had to wait - wait on God’s Word. That is our life. That is our story. “Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation.” It’s been almost 2000 years since Christ ascended into heaven. He says He’s coming back to take us to heaven. He prepared a place for us in heaven, by going to the cross for us, by suffering for all our sins, and making satisfaction for all our sins before God. But in the meantime, we wait. In the meantime, we find ourselves in situations where it’s not so easy to cling to what we cannot see - when everyone else seems to be having the time of their life, forsaking the Christian faith, even making fun of those who believe. But God’s promise is sure – we won’t be let down.
Simeon talks about Christ being set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel. That’s us. That’s you and me. In our heart and soul, there is a fall and rising again - As we die to sin, and are raised again to new life in Jesus Christ, through the faith of Jesus Christ. We were born in sin. Daily we sin in thought, word, and deed. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” But Christ was born without sin to be our Savior from sin.
Through Baptism and His Word, He grants us a new birth in the forgiveness of our sins. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
This is the miracle of the birth of Christ for us. As He was born and conceived by the miracle of the Holy Ghost, so He is also born into your heart and mine, by a miracle. By His Word by His Spirit He gives us the miracle of faith - the miracle of God’s Spirit in our heart.
Jesus says we must be born again. This happens when He enters our heart and gives us faith. He forgives us of all our sins. That’s our second birth – because Christ is the second Adam. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
By His Spirit He enables us to turn from our sin, our spiritual pride, which says, “I don’t need you God. I’ll take whatever earthly treasures you want to give me. But when it comes to hearing your word, confessing your name, putting aside my earthly things and earthly priorities for a time in order to hear you…. No thanks God. I’ll go my own way.”
That’s why we must be born again. We must have our sins forgiven, and we must have our spiritual pride taken away, which thinks, “I can do it all on my own.” And that is only possible through Jesus Christ, the Savior born without sin. It’s only possible by His Word. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
That’s what the name Simeon means: one who hears. Friends in Christ, that is you and me. Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”
What is His voice? What does He say, above all else? “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”"Mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people."
No matter who we are, and no matter how dark our past has been, Jesus is born for all. He lived, died, and rose again for all. That must mean it is for me.
We may not have a perfect understanding, or a perfect faith. No one does. But we can know and understand this: Jesus is born for all, which means He is born for you and me.
We too hold Him in our arms. He is near us, even in our hearts, by His Word and Sacraments, saying “All things are now ready. Simply come. Receive. Believe. And you will find rest unto your soul.”
We too, therefore, can depart in peace. “Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Through faith in Christ, we have all that we need. We never have to fear what will happen to us after this life is over. He makes us acceptable to the Father and completely fit for everlasting life with Him. We can depart in peace knowing that God is at peace with us. For Christ has made perfect peace between God and man. He overcame everything that stood in between us and God by going to the cross and making satisfaction for all our sins. Whoever believes in Christ will not perish, but have everlasting life. Amen.