Good News Late in Life

What’s on your bucket list of things to do before you die?
Today I want to talk about the only important thing to have on anyone’s bucket list.
We will take a brief look at the childhood of Jesus and the bucket list of Simeon and Anna.
Jesus as a Jewish Child
In Luke 2:22-40 we learn that Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day. Thirty three days later his mother observed the purification rites (Leviticus 12:2-8). The family’s offering was doves or pigeons without a lamb because Jesus’ parents were poor. The consecration or dedication of a firstborn to God was replaced by the tribe of Levi serving as the ministers. However, the firstborn were to be redeemed by each family through an offering. There are three infant ceremonies in modern churches: 1) dedication is a historically recent idea modeled on the dedication of the firstborn in the Old Testament, 2) the blessing of a little child is modeled after Jesus’ blessing of the little children, and 3) infant baptism which among other things asks that the Holy Spirit be the major influence in the rearing of a child.
Seeing the Unseen
How did Simeon see God’s salvation (Luke 2:22-40)? It seems that what he saw with his eyes was a poor family that had just journeyed the 60 miles from Nazareth to Jerusalem. A popular saying is: seeing is believing, but that is not faith. Faith is the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). In faith, Simeon could see beyond the obvious. In what seemed like a daily scene at the temple, he saw God’s salvation. Those closest to Jesus could not yet see when, at age twelve, he went missing. When his parents finally saw him, they did not yet understand that he would have been in his Father’s house (Luke 2:48-49). Sometimes in churches those closest to the leaders do not see what others do, God’s salvation at work, seeing the sacred in ordinary people.
Having Simeon’s Eyes
Can we have eyes to see the things of God like Simeon (Luke 2:22-40)? There is something that we can do and something that only God can do. Hebrews 11:1 helps us understand that faith sees things that the eyes do not. But, all good gifts come from God. Can we do something that helps us build faith or do we just wait passively on him? Romans 10:17 seems to indicate that there is something that we can do, listen to the words of Christ. Listening is not reading. Attending a church where especially the words of Christ are preached each week is an important way to allow God to build faith in us. The second part of our question is that none of us can see anything unless God chooses to open our eyes to see.
Simeon’s Praise & Blessing
When Simeon saw Jesus he took him in his arms and praised God for a personal revelation that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah (Luke 2:22-40). He also said that many would speak against Jesus so that their hearts would be revealed. Do we realize how our hearts are revealed in conversation? When we judge and criticize others, are we not judging and criticizing the One who forgave them all their sins? Simeon blessed Jesus’ parents and told Mary that a sword would pierce her soul. Does a sword pierce our souls every time Jesus’ name is cursed or he is belittled in the media? We are not told how the Holy Spirit revealed these things to Simeon, nor how he recognized salvation in a small baby, only that he was moved by the Spirit.
Simeon’s Bucket List
What is on your bucket list of things to do before you die? For Simeon it was to see the consolation of Israel, the Messiah. In his own words, he had seen God’s salvation (Luke 2:22-40). We say not to sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff. There is only one thing that is big in life, to see the salvation of the Lord. Everything else is small stuff, insignificant by comparison. If we see the salvation of the Lord in our lives, then even our worst fears like cancer or being killed in a terrorist attack are not so bad. Jesus said not to be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Cancer or terrorism cannot kill the soul. Have we yet seen that most important thing in life, salvation?

What’s on your bucket list? Hopefully we all have the most important thing of all, to see the salvation of our Lord.