The Story of a Prophet

December 24, 2016

The Story of a Prophet
We all know the Story; we’ve heard it over
and over again.  If you close your eyes
you can almost picture them, the Old Testament words that are read each year
during Advent.  The words of Isaiah and
Micah that relate to the coming messiah. 
They are repeated in sermons, songs and printed on Christmas cards.
Most of us can even recite bits and pieces
of those prophecies some are from the Prophet Isaiah  “For unto us a child
is born, unto us a son is given.”  and
“The Lord
himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She
will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with
us’)”
And Micah’s word about where Jesus would be
born But you, O Bethlehem, are only a small village among all the people
of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from
the distant past.”
And those words were read and repeated for
hundreds of years within the Jewish community as they looked to the one who
would free them from their oppressors and restore Israel to the glory it had
experienced under King David.
And all of those prophecies were fulfilled
when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. 
The Old Testament Prophecies have all the
earmarks of a great story as they point toward the coming Messiah.  They are repeated in sermons, songs and
printed on Christmas cards.
We all know the Story; we’ve heard it over
and over again. But there is another story, a story seldom told that is part of
the Christmas Narrative as well.
Over the Christmas season our theme has
been “The Story Seldom Told”  so instead
of focusing on the Mary and the birth of Jesus we looked at Elizabeth and the
birth of John.
Instead of looking at the 3 Kings, who were
actually weren’t kings, they were identified as Wise Men and there was no
number mentioned,  so instead of looking
at the undetermined number of men of non royal descent  we looked at the two kings who were actually
mentioned by name in the Christmas story, King Herod and King Jesus. 
And last Sunday instead of spending time on
the journey that Mary and Joseph made from Nazareth to Bethlehem which
fulfilled the prophecy of Micah we looked at how they had to flee Bethlehem and
go to Egypt to escape the jealous wrath of King Herod who saw in this new born
child a threat to his leadership.  And
that journey fulfilled another prophecy. 
Tonight we aren’t going to focus on the
prophecies concerning the birth of Jesus, instead we are looking at the prophecy
concerning the purpose of Jesus.
Maybe you remember looking at your newborn
child and imaging all the possibilities wrapped up in that tiny person.  And who someday they would provide for you in
your golden years. 
In Luke chapter 2 we read how Mary and
Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to be dedicated and circumcised.   I would suspect that they saw this as an
incredible opportunity, Jesus was probably the only one of their children to be
presented to God at the temple. The rest probably were presented at the
synagogue in Nazareth where they lived.
And it was during the dedication service
that they encountered a man named Simeon. 
We don’t know a lot about Simeon. 
The bible doesn’t record that he was a priest or a religious leader we
are simply told that he was righteous and devout and that the Holy Spirit had
come upon him.
And on the day that Jesus’ mother and
Joseph took Jesus to the temple we read Luke 2:25-32  At that time there was a man in Jerusalem
named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the
Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had
revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came
to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was
there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign
Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised.  I have
seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people.  He is a
light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Here is the story of a man who was living
in the hope of a promise.  The bible
tells us that Simeon was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the
Messiah.
And when I read the words of Simeon I
realized that I was reading words of hope, a hope realized and a hope foreseen.
A hope for today and a hope for
eternity.  A hope for Simeon and a hope
for the world.
A Hope for me and A hope for you.
Tonight, Jesus offers us the same hope that
was offered to Simeon.  When this old man
looked down at the 8-day old baby he saw hope. 
It would be almost another 2000 before Carl
Sandburg would be born, but what Simeon saw in the baby Jesus is
captured in Sandburg’s words. “A baby is God’s
opinion that the world should go on.”  In this case it was the
reality of John
3:16
 
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so
that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.   
That first Christmas happened because in
God’s opinion the world should go on, and not just go on but to go on with
hope.
 
And for the next 33 years Jesus
offered hope to the world, and ultimately hope to us.  Which is why it is written in Matthew 12:21  And his (Jesus’) name will be the hope of all the
world.
So let’s jump into the Jesus story: Matthew 4:23  Jesus traveled throughout the
region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News
about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.
Jesus
Offers Hope in the Face of Broken Bodies 
Time and time again through the story we
read the words “Jesus healed”.  He healed
the blind, the crippled, the lepers and those who were oppressed by demons.  He healed with his touch and he healed with
his words.  There was even one occasion
recorded that he healed a lady who simply touched his garment as he walked by.
Men, women and children who perhaps had
given up any hope of ever being whole, and Jesus gave them that hope.  Shrivelled legs were restored, sightless eyes
given sight and silent tongues spoke.
And I truly believe that God still heals
through the power of Jesus today.  Does
he heal every one every time?  Be pretty
crowded if he did.  We live in finite
bodies, Paul describes it this way in  2 Corinthians 4:7  We now have this light shining
in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this
great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from
ourselves.
And I do not believe that it is a cop out
to say that the final healing for the Christian is death, and that is why Paul reminds
us in 1 Thessalonians
4:13
 And now,
dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the
believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
But sometimes, God pushes aside the natural
laws that he puts in place and a supernatural healing takes place.  And that is why we pray for people to be
healed.  It was John
Wimber one of the founders of the Vineyard Church who said “When we prayed for no one, no one was healed.  Now we pray for lots of people and some
people are healed.”
There is a great statement in the book of
Romans where Paul   Romans 4:18  Even
when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—
Maybe this evening you feel that you have
no reason for hope, like Abraham I would encourage you to keep hoping. 
And for the Christian there is hope that
even surpasses a healing hope. 
Because every person who was ever healed by
Christ, eventually died.
Which leads us to the next part of the
story
Mark
10:17
 As Jesus
was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt
down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”   Jesus was asked that
question over and over again throughout the gospels. 
And the question is still being asked
today, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Tonight let me assure you that  Jesus
Offers Hope in the Face of Eternity 
When
Simeon looked into the eyes of the Christ Child he said Luke 2:29-31  “Sovereign Lord, now let your
servant die in peace, as you have promised.  I have seen your salvation,
 which you have prepared for all people.
Where did Simeon see God’s salvation?  Not in a set of rules or religious
obligations but in this child.
Salvation
is a Person, and not something that you do to earn your way to God.
Salvation
is a Person, and that Person is the Lord Jesus Christ. You either know Jesus or
you don’t know him.  You’ve either
entrusted your eternity to Jesus or you haven’t. 
And
Jesus himself was very clear that he isn’t one way to salvation but the only
way.
John 14:6  Jesus told him, “I am
the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through
me.
And that hope that we have is a hope based on the assurance
of the word of God when we are told in 1 John 5:13  I have written this to you who believe in the
name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.
I was talking to someone this past week and
they had commented on hearing  a preacher
say that they hoped their children didn’t miss heaven by 18 inches. 
They were speaking of the 18 inches that separate
the mind from the heart.
I hope that not one of you will miss heaven
by 18 inches, that you will allow your belief to make the journey from your
mind to your heart.
And maybe you are thinking, “well that’s
well and good for others, but I’ve done too much, God couldn’t forgive me or
use me.” 
There is no sin that God cannot forgive and
no person that God cannot use.
In John’s gospel we read a story where
Jesus arrives at a well on one of his journey’s and there he meets a gentile
woman who had been married four times and was living common law with her partner.
Now listen to the offer that Jesus makes to
the woman,  John 4:14  Jesus said “But those who drink the
water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring
within them, giving them eternal life.”
And this woman discovers what we all need
to know and that is,  Jesus Offers Hope in the Face of Hopelessness  Pretty sure that this unknown lady
figured that God had probably given up on her much like many of her neighbours
had. 
It was no accident that in a time when the
community well would have been a gathering spot for the village women, this
woman was alone. 
The bible is full of people who had blown
it, and God proves over and over again that his grace is enough.  It was enough for the woman at the well, it
was enough for Denn Guptill and it is enough for you.  If you choose to accept it. 
I don’t know what you’ve done or where you
are tonight but like Simeon if you look to Jesus you will see light of God’s salvation. 
And so as we come to the end of my message
my prayer for you is the same as Paul’s prayer was for the church in
Ephesus. 
Ephesians
1:18
 I pray
that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the
confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich
and glorious inheritance.
Advent Candle Lighting.
Luke 2:32
 “He is a light
to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”