Series: Luke—The Infancy Of Jesus (1:1-2:52)
ANTICIPATION OF THE COMING OF CHRIST
What is something in your life that you anticipated the coming of with great excitement?
- Was it your wedding day?
- Your birthday?
- The arrival of a baby?
- A driver’s license?
- A move to a new location?
- The start of a long-planned vacation?
We know the feeling of impatient excitement of waiting for something to occur. We can’t stop thinking about the event. It occupies our mind a part of every day.
- “Oh, that would be neat to get for the baby.”
- “Hey, we should also visit that museum while we are on vacation—it’s not too far from where we’re going.”
- “Can I get this for my birthday, Mom? Can I? Can I?”
Christians are to anticipate the coming of Christ. We are to be…
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Titus 2:13)
Does the Second Coming of Christ occupy our minds every day? Once a week? Once a month?
Most of us would confess that we don’t think so much about Christ’s coming. Perhaps one reason is that we’ve experienced a lot of people claiming to know the exact time of the Lord’s return—and then they were proven wrong. We’ve gotten a bit jaded.
How can we think about Christ’s coming more often?
It’s not going to come from finding a chart or secret code that will predict the time of the Second Coming. That will only lead to more disappointment (when it fails to be right) and less anticipation.
As I studied this passage in Luke 2:25-39, I realized that a lot of anticipation for Christ’s coming comes from being devoted to God and trusting His word.
Around 2000 years ago, true believers were also anticipating the coming of Christ—the first coming of Christ.
We can learn how we should be anticipating the second coming of Christ from how they anticipated His first coming. One of those people was named Simeon; Luke tells us about him in 2:25-35.
THE ANTICIPATION OF SIMEON (2:25-35)
The Character That Leads To Anticipation
Luke 2:25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
Luke presents “Simeon” as a “just and devout” man. The word “just” (δίκαιος, JNSM) is another way of saying that he was “righteous,” concerned about following God in all His “right” ways.
The word “devout” (εὐλαβής, εὐλαβής, JNSM) is used only three times (Acts 2:5; 8:2) in the New Testament. It means to be reverent towards God. To be devoted to the Lord.
Luke, the careful historian, wants us to understand that Simeon is a credible witness to Jesus Christ. So he points out that Simeon’s character is one of godliness and holiness.
Simeon’s godly character causes him to be a man of anticipation. He is, Luke says, “waiting for the consolation [comforting] of Israel.”
This is a term that probably arose out of references in Isaiah like “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God” (Isaiah 40:1).
God’s people Israel had, from time to time, been put under the rule of foreign powers because of their disobedience. Israel, at Simeon’s point in history, were under the iron rule of the Roman Empire.
Many Jews longed for deliverance from the Romans and a spiritual revival in Israel. They longed for the promised Messiah. Simeon was one of those true believers who longed for the Messiah. He longed for the salvation from sin that the Messiah would bring.
Luke also tells us that “Holy Ghost was upon him.” This is yet another indication of the “just and devout” character of Simeon—he was a man whom the Holy Spirit loved to be around. And Simeon loved to be around God.
Such a man is going to, by his nature, anticipate the coming of the Lord because he is interested in all things about God.
Do you anticipate the second coming of the Lord? If not, why? Is it perhaps that you don’t care much for the things of God?
You might be a moral person, but are you are godly person? A moral person does the right things, but for reasons other than a love for God. A godly person loves God and His ways. His obedience and character flow out of a love for God.
A moral person and a godly person look the same on the outside, but on the inside, whoa boy, they are night and day. The moral person rarely talks about God, and there’s no spiritual happiness in them.
The godly person loves to chat about Christ, and when they pray, you can tell they are having a conversation with someone and not just reciting words. A godly person anticipates the return of the Lord that he loves so much.
There was more that led Simeon to anticipate the Messiah’s coming.
The Revelation That Leads To Anticipation
Luke 2:26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ [Christ is the Greek term for Messiah].
This is just a remarkable revelation. Can you imagine knowing for certain that the “Lord’s Christ” would appear in your lifetime?
I’ve known several believers who were convinced that the Lord would come again before they died (and some of them are now dead)—but Simeon knew for certain.
Needless to say, this revelation would have stirred up the anticipation that Simeon had for the coming of the Messiah.
We might argue, “Well, if the Lord personally revealed to me that Jesus was coming back in my lifetime, I’d be hopping up and down in anticipation.”
But remember, it’s more than that Simeon received this revelation, he also believed the revelation given to him. He had faith that God would accomplish the promise given to him.
We don’t know when Simeon received this information, but it could have been when he a young man. As the decades passed, his faith could have been tested about the truthfulness of this revelation.
In a similar way, Abraham and Sarah’s faith was tested concerning the promise of a son to be born to them. They waited decades for the birth of the promised son!
The Bible says that Abraham was “…fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4:21).
We have been told that Jesus will come again. When Jesus ascended into Heaven, the angels told the dumbfounded disciples:
…Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)
And Paul tells us:
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17)
In response to this revelation that we have received, we have been commanded:
35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. (Mark 13:35–37)
What does it mean to watch? It means to anticipate!
Simeon’s faithful anticipation finally came to pass.
The Prophecy Coming From The Anticipation
Luke 2:27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Luke 2:28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Luke 2:29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart In peace, according to thy word:
Simeon praised God that his mission in life is complete, the promise God made to him is fulfilled and now he could die in peace.
Simeon went on to speak about the great salvation that God was sending in Jesus—
Luke 2:30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Luke 2:31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
Luke 2:32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Luke 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
What is remarkable to me (and to Joseph and Mary, it seems) is how Simeon included the Gentiles in on salvation.
The Jews tried really hard not to think about the Gentiles, and if they did, it was usually to criticize and condemn them. But Simeon reveals that God wants the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for  the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and  for a sign which shall be spoken against;
Luke 2:35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Basically, Simeon was saying that Jesus would be a person that people either loved or hated. And that’s exactly how it worked out. The religious leaders continually hammered against Jesus throughout His ministry. Jesus Himself would say:
51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: (Luke 12:51)
With Christ, you cannot be neutral. Some people think they can be like Switzerland in World War II—completely neutral—and still be let into Heaven then they die.
They suppose that, because they don’t actively hate Christ, that is enough. But Jesus said: “He that is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30).
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)
How will you respond to Christ? Your choice will determine if you will rise again with Christ or fall into the lake of fire. In that day, your true heart will be “revealed” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:13; 4:5).
Do you really want to wait until that day to find that your pretending did not fool the Creator and Judge of the Universe? Why not settle what you think about Jesus right now?
If you are against Him, then don’t pretend to be for Him. If you are for Him, then don’t pretend to be like unbelievers so that they will like you.
Finally, Simeon has a deeply personal word to Mary—
Luke 2:35a (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,)
We understand that this was fulfilled as Mary watched her Son die on Calvary. Nancy Leigh DeMoss gives us the female perspective:
…as a mother [Mary] was losing her Son. She was giving up His life. Even as He laid down His life, she gave up her Son for the salvation and the redemption of the world.
Mothers, have you laid down your children for the sake of Christ and His kingdom?
…I remember when a dear pastor’s wife, a friend of mine, said “good-bye” to one of her daughters, along with her son-in-law and two grandchildren, as they left to be missionaries in Cambodia.
Just before their departure, I asked my friend, “Isn’t this hard for you?” She replied, “Oh, Nancy, I can’t think of anything more wonderful than to have a child who wants to lay down her life for the sake of taking the Gospel to the world. Yes, it’s hard. We won’t see them much in this world, but there’s a whole lot of eternity after this life.”
(Nancy Leigh DeMoss, “4: Portrait of a Woman Used by God,” in Biblical Womanhood in the Home, Foundations for the Family Series [Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2002], 78–79)
Mothers (and Fathers), are you willing to release your children to gospel service like that?
Mary would allow her child to do what God called Him to do, even though it would be like a “sword” piercing her soul.
There’s another way that a “sword” could have pierced Mary’s soul as she stood there and watched Him die. She could have realized that it was because of her sin that Jesus—her Son—was on the cross.
Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? Because we are all sinners and the penalty for our sin can only be death. That penalty has to be paid. Someone has to die.
Have you received Jesus and the sacrifice He made for you on the cross? The way of salvation is simple:
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)
Simeon, as it turned out, wasn’t the only one anticipating the coming of the Messiah that day. There was a female counterpart who was also in the temple, watching for Jesus. Her name was Anna.
THE ANTICIPATION OF ANNA (2:36-39)
Luke 2:36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser [Asher]: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
Luke 2:37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
Depending on how you want to read this verse, Anna was either 84 years old, or she had been a widow for 84 years and was over a hundred years old.
Either way, her commitment to serve God as a widow for the rest of her life points to her dedication to the Lord. As with Simeon, Anna is a person of godly character.
Anna is described as a “prophetess,” which simply means that she was a female teacher. It does not necessarily mean that she received revelation from God. She probably taught women in classes.
We learn that she “departed not from the temple,” which does not refer to just the temple building, but to the entire temple complex.
The temple complex was massive; it covered about 35 acres. There were apartments in the temple complex for the priests where they stayed for their two weeks of service, so perhaps Anna lived there.
Luke 2:38 And she coming in that instant [just as Simeon was talking to them] gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
Luke 2:39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
It’s possible that Simeon had told Anna about what God had told him about the Christ coming in his lifetime. Like Simeon, she believed that revelation of God.
I can imagine her teaching a group of women on some steps in the complex when she looks up and sees Simeon, across a courtyard, holding a baby and talking to a young couple.
You know how your heart jumps for joy when you see what you anticipate happening? It’s the feeling the groom has when he sees his bride appear and start to walk down the aisle.
Anna’s heart leaped for joy and she immediately ran over to see the Christ child and gave thanks for God.
How will we respond when Christ returns? Will we have Anna’s thankfulness? We will if we are truly anticipating His coming.
HOW DO WE BUILD ANTICIPATION FOR CHRIST’S COMING?
Live Our Lives For The Lord
Both Simeon and Anna lived their lives all out for the Lord. We should also. This doesn’t mean that we have to find a temple complex and confine ourselves to it. It does mean that we develop a concern for God that leads us to obey Him.
Obedience should flow out of a love for the Lord. When it does, you’ll find yourself anticipating His coming because so much of your life will be invested in Him.
Trust His Word
While it’s not directly stated as such, Simeon and Anna trusted God’s Word. Simeon believed that the Christ would come in his lifetime just as God said.
We must also trust that what God says about Christ’s second coming is true. Yes, it’s taking a long time, but as Peter told us:
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8–9)
As you live for the Lord and learn to trust His word and His promises, do you know what will happen? You will find yourself more invested in the Lord and more interested in His return.
You’ll be like an engaged man or woman. You will spend those months until the wedding day getting to know the one you are to marry more and more. You anticipate the upcoming wedding more and more.
Get invested in Jesus. Be godly and devout like Simeon and Anna, and your anticipation for His return will build as you walk close to Him