What Would Christ Want for Christmas?
A look at the infant Christ from the heart of Simeon in Luke 2:25-35
What do you want for Christmas? it’s a common question. What is uncommon is what children ask for. What’s the most unusual gift one of your children have asked for? I made a list of surprising requests–I am sure you could add to it.
My 3-year-old really wants an invisible puppy for Christmas–but I don’t think we can afford it.
My 4-year-old asked for a CostCo sized Ketchup bottle to use for all his meals.
My 10-year-old asked for a butler.
My 3-year-old wants glow-in-the-dark Pull-Ups.
My 5-year-old daughter asked for a can of chocolate frosting and a spoon.
My 15-year- old asked for his own personal pound of bacon.
My 4-year-old asked if he could be adopted somewhere.
My 8-year-old son ask for a bag of concrete and chicken wire–we don’t know what for.
My 4-year-old daughter asked for a rat!
My 6-year-old asked for bananas and zucchini so she can bake bread.
The amazing thing about this season is, it was originally designed to celebrate a world-altering moment . . . when God was born a man in the person of Jesus Christ. It is a birthday celebration–yet it has so lost its focus, we rarely consider the most important question. What does Christ want for His birthday? Turn to Luke 2:25 to 38 and think back 2,000 years ago—it was a dark time for the world, much like it is today.
For those seeking the Lord, there had been 400 years of total silence from God. Religion had become routine, legalistic, mechanical and heartless. Living in society was difficult, risky, day-to-day and a struggle. Government was oppressive, cruel, and depressing. The economy was unstable. People had little hope and many fears. In the midst of this kind of world, a man named Simeon was waiting for the Savior to appear. Then on one very special day, in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, all his waiting was over as he sees the infant Christ only eight days after He is born.
In this encounter, Simeon shows us what Christ wants from you this holiday. Like the three gifts of the wise men, our Savior wants three things from you. What can you give Christ? Take your outline and open to Luke 2:25 to 35. What does Christ want for Christmas?
Gift #1 Your LIFE Verses 25 to 27
Read verse 25, “And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” What was Simeon’s life like? Luke does not tell us where Simeon lived. We are told nothing about his relatives, what he did for a living, or whether he was popular or unpopular. That is not what God wants from you.
What does Jesus want for Christmas? Jesus says your life in John 12:25. In the Living Bible it says, “If you love your life down here, you will lose it. If you despise your life down here, you will exchange it for eternal glory.” In Mark 8:35 he says the same truth differently, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” What does it mean to give Jesus your life? Simeon shows us three aspects.
First Live with INTEGRITY Verse 25a
Did you notice how Simeon lived? Verse 25, “Simeon was righteous and devout.” Righteous means he lived rightly before men. Devout means he lived right before God. Even when no one was watching, at home alone when no one could see, Simeon did what was right–even in the little things. Like David in Psalm 101:2b, “I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.”
If you’ve seen an aerial picture of the Statue of Liberty, you know what integrity is. Pictures taken from helicopters show the top of the statue’s head. When you see it, you will be amazed at the detail there. The sculptor did a painstaking job with the lady’s hairdo–and yet he must have been pretty sure at that time that the only eyes that would ever see this detail would be the uncritical eyes of sea gulls. No way could he have ever dreamed any man would ever fly over this head. His commitment, however, was to finish off this part of the statue with as much care as he devoted to her face, arms, torch and everything else that people can see as they sail by her.
That is a life of integrity–a life lived the same in private as it is in public. A life lived the same before friends and God. When Christ changes your life, what you are in private becomes more and more what you are in public. How you live in your room or out with your friends is the same. What is seen and not seen by others is the same. Because when Christ changes your life, you live for Him when no one sees or when everyone is looking. Jesus Christ wants that kind of life from you–a life of honest integrity. Giving him your life also means . . .
Second Live with OBEDIENCE to God’s Word Verses 25b to 26
Look at verses 25b to 26, “Looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” Simeon was looking for the promised Savior. I can imagine every day as he went into the Temple area he must have looked around, scanning the crowd to see if the Messiah had come. Is it this one? No! Is He the Christ? No! What about Him? No!
Then one day as Simeon walked into the Temple, he saw a poor couple–a man who was a carpenter in Nazareth and his wife, both of them very young. They had a baby, a tiny one, just a week old. Immediately the Holy Spirit confirmed to Simeon this was the Savior–God in a bod. God had been born as a man.
Simeon did not look on the outward appearance. He did not say, “But God, how can this be Your Messiah? I expected somebody mighty.” No, he accepted the revelation as God gave it to him. He took God at His Word. He obeyed God’s Word. Do you? Christ wants your obedience–obedience glorifies God and is best for you. A lot of people claim to be Christians, but the Bible teaches a true Christian is one who obeys the Bible.
Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Jesus even pointedly asks in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Hey, if you’re truly the friend of God, then Jesus says in John 15:14, “You are My friends, if you do what I command you.”
Now hear me–Jesus is not talking about religion. Obeying God’s commandments has nothing to do with whether you drink, smoke or chew, or go with girls that do. No, that’s religion and Jesus hates religion. No, true Christians obey God’s Word, the Bible–not because they have to, but they want to. Why do true born again, real Christians obey God’s Word? Because they have a new heart that wants to obey. They obey the Bible from a new, transformed heart that has a desire to obey God, even when we fail to obey.
Romans 6:17 makes it clear, “You became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.” God gave you an obedient heart, a heart that wants to obey. So when a so-called Christian says, “You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian–that is an indication of a wrong heart, a heart that is not born again. Because true Christians have new hearts who want to obey God’s Word, even when they fail to obey. True Christians have a heart that wants to gather, worship, serve, give and care for others. Simeon had a heart to obey His Word and God wants that from you. And giving God what He wants for Christmas is to . . .
Third Live with DEPENDENCE Verses 25 and 27
Look at the end of verse 25 and verse 27, “And the Holy Spirit was upon him. 27aMoved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” Every day Simeon lived dependent upon the Spirit. When you are born again, you are indwelt with the third person of the Trinity. In order to know the power of the Spirit, you and I are, Ephesians 5:18, “to be filled with the Spirit.”
Not only does being filled mean saturation with God’s Word, confessing all known sin, serving through your gift in the Church and sharing the Gospel in the world–but primarily it involves dependence upon the Spirit in everything and exercising your will to walk in obedience to His Word. Unless you are filled with the Spirit, you can’t do anything that would please Christ. Helping the handicapped or giving sacrificially does not please God or count for eternity unless it is done in God’s strength and for God’s glory. You must be filled with the Spirit.
Only God is good and the only good things we really do are when the good God does good things through us. Simeon was moved by the Spirit, and pleasing Christ is living daily in dependence. A true Christian strives not to do things for God, but to have God live through them in everything they do. It is as if you go through life like you are a sailboat–you’re totally dependent upon the wind to move you in the right direction. It means going through life as a Christian saying, “I can’t do this, but Christ can through me.”
The life Jesus wants from you this Christmas is a life like Simeon–an obedient, dependent life of integrity. Will you give Him what He wants? Simeon goes a step further, showing us God not only wants your life–but He also wants . . .
Gift #2 Your WORSHIP Verse 28
I suppose Simeon walked over to Joseph and Mary, introduced himself and asked, verse 28, “May I hold the child?” Picture this moment, an entire lifetime satisfied in one moment. Every cry of his heart now fulfilled. Do you think his eyes teared up? Absolutely. Verse 28 says, “Then [Simeon] took Him into his arms, and blessed God.”
Simeon took the infant Christ Jesus in his arms and praised God and said, verse 29 to 32, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; 30For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” Simeon worshiped God.
The birth of the Savior should cause us to shout exactly what the angels did at the birth of Jesus—”Glory to God in the Highest.” God wants true worshipers this Christmas. In fact, John 4 tells us the Father “seeks worshipers who worship Him in spirit and truth.” (That’s one of the only things God seeks from us.)
Simeon’s example even shows us how to worship–true worship. He worshiped not just with his mind, not just with his attendance, not just on the day of worship, and not just as a routine. But verses 28 to 32 show us Simeon’s worship was with his entire being–heart, soul, mind and strength. What’s that kind of worship look like? The kind of worship God wants this Christmas.
First Worship with your whole HEART
In verse 28, Simeon blessed God. With all his heart, Simeon magnified God, shouted praise to God, acknowledged his goodness. Simeon was all in–a living sacrifice. Listen to his words in verses 29 and 30, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; 30For my eyes have seen Your salvation.”
Some people come to church and they merely listen and attend. Others come to church to worship, where they offer themselves and their entire life to Christ as a living sacrifice, which is true worship. Romans 12:1, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of [???] worship.”
When you sang praises this morning, would Jesus say of you what He said in Matthew 15:8, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me.” God wants your life of worship–not merely our songs, attendance, listening or fellowship. The gift the Lord wants is you beginning every day saying from your heart, “My life is yours.”
Second Worship with TRUST
When life was at its darkest, Simeon waited on God’s promises. The NIV in verse 29 says, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.” Simeon says, “as you have promised,” or in the NASB, “according to your Word.” Simeon’s worship included trusting God’s Word. God wants you to trust His Word. Your trust brings Him glory and is for your good. Simeon was old and tired, but he continued to worship by trusting in God’s promises every day.
Are you worshiping the Lord by trusting in His promises? Like, “Every good and perfect gift is from the Father” (James 1:17). “Cast your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). The worship God desires from you is according to truth. Simeon proclaims to God, “as you promised.” God keeps His Word. Are you trusting the Word of God, depending upon His promises? And are you . . .
Third Worship FOCUSED on Christ
Read verses 30 to 32, “For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” At Christmas, we tend to focus on gifts, trees, meals, decorations, relatives, memories, children, grandchildren. But what Christmas is about is so much more. CS Lewis wisely states that “Christmas is celebrating the greatest miracle that ever occurred on this planet.” Simeon calls Jesus God’s salvation—“I have seen your salvation.”
Christmas is when our Creator, the One who made Heaven and Earth, the One who made you and me, the One who sustains everything and holds it all together–this Creator was born as an infant, 100% God became 100% God and 100% man. Christ did this so He might show us who God is, what God is like. The sinless Son of God in the gospels showed us God’s power, God’s holiness, God’s wisdom and grace–come to rescue sinners from the Father’s perfect judgement.
Ultimately, Christ was born so He could die in our place. God had to save us–why? No one here is perfect and in order to be able to be right with God, to be His child now and spend eternity with Him forever in Heaven later, you must be perfect like God. But you and I can’t–we have all sinned, have all fallen short of God’s standard.
All of you here live better than Adolf Hitler. Most of you live better than others at school or at work. A few of you live better than your entire family–all true. But not one of you lives as perfect and holy as Christ Himself. You may not have sinned as much as others, but you and I still have sinned and you may be better than others–but you are not as good as God.
Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” You and I have sinned–we’ve gone our own way, we’ve done our own thing. And as a result, we will never be accepted in God’s presence because of our sinful nature and sinful choices. And sin is against God’s law, opposed to God’s character. And it is so bad, so offensive to the Lord God it requires death. But the good news is what Simeon declared–God’s salvation is for Jew and Gentile. If a perfect man could die for us, then you and I would have a way to be forgiven for our sins, washed spiritually clean and made perfect in God’s sight.
This is why Simeon worshiped the infant Christ–because Christ was God’s way of providing salvation for sinners who depend totally on Him. This little baby will eventually die for His children. God wants your life and your worship, and this encounter shows us He wants . . .
GIFT #3 Your PURPOSE
Your purpose is not living safe, being comfortable, graduating, family, or your kids. Read verses 33 to 35, “And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’”
Your purpose is proclaiming a message. Simeon’s message was to proclaim the raw, hard, confrontive truth about the infant Christ. Simeon did not say, “Jesus will help your life,” or “He is the reason for the season,” or “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday,” or “It’s important for you to remember Jesus.” Simeon’s purpose was to share some hard facts about this little 8-day-old baby. What did he say? He said Christ will be the great divider of mankind. All of humanity will be divided into two groups because of this baby (look at verse 34). Those who reject Him will go to Hell (they will fall). Those who follow Him go to Heaven (they will rise).
Stop looking at age, wealth, education, race, or even church—or even profession. Those who are in Christ will go to Heaven, and those who are not will go to Hell. Those who embrace Christ will be forgiven, and those who ignore Christ will be condemned. Those who intimately know Christ are found, and those who know about Christ are lost. No one can come to the Father except through Jesus.
Jesus is the crossroads of eternity. He said it Himself in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” Jesus says you will never be right with God now nor get to Heaven forever if . . . you’re sincere, if you call yourself a Christian and go to church, or you have Christian family. You will not make it if you trust in Buddha, Mary, Mohammed, Confucius, Joseph Smith, or anyone other than Jesus Christ alone.
Look at the end of verse 34, “for a sign to be opposed,” or a sign will be spoken against. Simeon says to Joseph and Mary, many will oppose Christ, ignore Him and many will reject Him and His followers. He will be spoken against. You ask, “Who speaks against Jesus?” You already know. When someone at work curses, or hits their hand with a hammer, or at school slams their finger in a locker, they don’t say, “Blast the Buddha,” or “Manic Mohammed,” or “Crusty Confucius.” They only use one name—Jesus Christ as a swear word.
Have you noticed when Christians say, “Jesus is the only way,” people take huge offense at that? Then if they don’t, they embrace the idiotic opposite. They’ll say, “All roads lead to Heaven”–which is just like saying you can punch any seven numbers on your phone and it will ring my phone–no way. Simeon ends his message powerfully in verse 35, “to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Your heart is revealed today.
No person remains neutral about Jesus Christ. You are either totally for Jesus or you are against Him, even if you are passive. Simeon is declaring that Jesus is such a significant person, as people are exposed to Him or discuss Him, the very process of coming in contact with Jesus will reveal what people are really like internally. Coming face-to-face with the truth of who Christ is will expose the true character of any person, including each one of you here. What is Jesus Christ revealing about you today? Some of you don’t get it.
The key difference between true Christianity and every other religion is this–every religion on the planet is telling you if you work hard enough, live good enough, give enough you will make it to Heaven. True Christianity from the Bible says none of that will help. You can’t earn your salvation. No matter how hard you work, how much you go to church, how nice you are, or clean up your act–you will never be good enough to get to Heaven.
So God, in the person of Christ, the second person of the Trinity, was born an infant, to grow to be a perfect man, in order to die for your sins and rise from the dead. And you can be forgiven, saved, ready for Heaven, be intimate with your Creator and transformed by Christ–given a new life and a new heart. But God must do it in you.
Cry out to Christ to open your heart. Cry out to God so He would give you faith to depend on Christ alone. Cry out for a heart of repentance to turn away from your sin and follow Christ alone. You can’t save yourself and you can’t be a Christian on your own. But God can save you and God can live the Christian life through you. Instead of guilt, there will be forgiveness. Instead of pain, joy. That was Simeon’s message that God wants you to understand. Your entire life now and your eternity are all dependent upon Christ.
Here is the message you must hear today. You can rebel now, but someday you will bow before Jesus Christ as Lord of all as He condemns you to Hell forever. Merry Christmas! Or you can bow before Christ now, enjoy Christ in you now and someday be welcomed into Heaven by Christ as His eternal friend. What does Christ want for Christmas? He wants your life, your worship and your purpose. You don’t have to go shopping for this. Thank God You can find everything I just said in the Bible. Christians call it the good news, the Gospel–God saves sinners and you just heard it. Let’s pray.
So how should you respond? Cry out for salvation. You can’t earn this, you don’t work for it, you don’t act religious. Faith in Christ is to trade all you are for all that Christ is. Many of you desperately need to get rid of your self made religion, your nice pseudo-Christian, churchy ways and turn to Christ alone in genuine relationship.
Some of you desperately need forgiveness for sins you’ve committed, things you’ve done in secret, things you have done with others, things you have done that haunt you–the guilt is overwhelming. You can find forgiveness now and forever in Christ. A few of you here are worn out and weary of churchianity. You’ve been trying to live for God in your own strength, and today is the day you need to turn to Christ alone. Jesus said in Matthew 11:30, “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
A couple of you need to stop fooling yourself–you call yourself a Christian, but you are still in active disobedience to Christ in some way. You don’t go to church, don’t give, don’t serve, don’t reach out to downtrodden, don’t care for others except your own family. And you have fantastic reasons why you don’t keep Christ’s commands, but not one of those reasons will impress Christ. You can’t fool Him. If you’ve a genuinely transformed, regenerate heart, that new heart will want to obey the commands of Christ. You need to 1) repent and obey, or 2) admit you’re not a Christian.
With a broken heart, I must remind others of you that if you do nothing today and remain separated from Christ, you will spend eternity in Hell. And the rest of you can rejoice with Simeon that Jesus Christ came to rescue you–not because you deserve it or were good enough, but because our God is so overwhelmingly loving, gracious and giving. When you give and receive those presents this week, remember the greatest gift ever given is Jesus Christ. And if you love Him, you will give him what He wants for Christmas. Let’s pray.