Coincidences Are Not Coincidental
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Luke 2:25c-27a (Holman) . . .and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had
been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not
see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the
Spirit, he entered the temple complex.
Note the recurring theme. Simeon yielded to the Holy Spirit. By long submitting to the Spirit in ordinary days, Simeon was ready when his special day came. Don’t live on spiritual adrenalin, obsessing for the extraordinary, and craving for huge, astonishing events to happen. Serve God everyday in the ho-hum humdrum. Then if the extraordinary comes, you will be ready.
The Holy Spirit made Simeon Godly (v. 25). Holiness matters most. We cannot be close to God apart from the Holy Spirit constantly inbreathing into us. We cannot effectively follow Jesus apart from the Spirit’s leading.
The Holy Spirit made Simeon a listener (v. 26). By walking close to the Lord, Simeon had received a secret message from Heaven. He had long known he would never have to worry about dying unexpectedly.
The Holy Spirit made Simeon perceptive (v. 27a). He happened to enter the temple at precisely the right second. What we call coincidences often prove to be monumental divine appointments. After preaching at Calvary Baptist in Dexter, Missouri, one Sunday night, I drove immediately to Cape Girardeau because I wanted to go get pizza with friends. I walked in the door of South Side Baptist Church, and for the first time saw Ruth.
Unexpected divine appointments are why we need to stay filled with the Spirit always. We never know for sure if we are making huge, life-altering decisions, or if events are about to happen that will change things forever.
The Holy Spirit made Simeon a public worshiper (v. 27a). Simeon reminds us one of the ways the Holy Spirit helps make us Godly, listening, perceptive followers of Jesus is by regularly bringing us to the public gatherings with His people.
My life would have been impoverished had I not attended church regularly. In church I was baptized, surrendered to preach, and married Ruth. The great Gosnell revival of my young preaching years began in church. Do not underestimate the importance of believers gathering together regularly.
Communists often better realize how important church attendance is to Christianity than Christians do. Castro made sure people could succeed in Cuba only by their going through regular Sunday morning training sessions. He knew disrupting the gathering of Christians would disrupt Christianity.
Some people try to justify their poor attendance at church by finding fault with believers and church leaders. Simeon, Anna, and Jesus refused to do this. They went to corporate worship often and regularly, though there had not been a prophet of YHWH in Israel for over 400 years. I fear many of our people have a “What’s in it for me?” fixation. It’s not about you. It’s about God who is honored, and about others, who need to see us doing this.
We believers need to gather. The Father of our American Revelation knew this. When the Continental Congress was fleeing British troops, Sam Adams went to church, even when German was the language spoken in the service. The Holy Spirit leads Christ-followers to the group; even when He sends us to be alone, it is so we can be renewed to return and bless the many.
Irregular church attendance is my biggest fear for the future of my college group attenders. We weekly meet about 24 times a year. I’m grateful for every time they come to our house, but 24 times a year is far short of 52.
Luke 2:27b When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform
for Him what was customary under the law,. . .
The Baby’s parents dedicated Him to God, reminding us our chief aim in life as parents is to raise Godly children. Spiritually bless the children.
The dying Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, when praying for his daughter the princess, asked that if she ever became Queen of England, she might rule in the fear of God. The girl was Victoria, who became known for her honesty, family values, and high standards of personal morality. I’m thankful my mom held me up before God. When I started preaching, my dad was surprised, but Mom said, “I always knew he would be a preacher.”
Luke 2:28a . . .Simeon took Him up in his arms,. . .
Since my love language is touching, I enjoy noting its importance in the Bible. I appreciate the fact John the Beloved, in later years, rejoiced that he touched with his hands the Word of Life (1 J 1:1). I find it noteworthy that he enjoyed reclining against Jesus’ bosom at the Last Supper (JN 13:23).
The Bible says we are to greet one another with a holy kiss. We in the Western Church feel this was a cultural custom not meant to be universally binding, but we must not overlook the vital lesson taught in the practice. Touch people. Shake hands. Greet one another warmly and enthusiastically.
Simeon lovingly took up the baby Jesus in his arms, but don’t miss the most pressing question. Who was really holding whom here? Jesus was no more in Simeon’s hands than Simeon was in Jesus’. Simeon was holding Jesus’ body; Jesus was holding Simeon’s soul. Mark Lowry nailed it: “Mary, did you know this child you delivered will soon deliver you, that when you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God, and that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation? The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.”
Luke 2:28b-29 . . . praised God, and said: Now, Master, You can
dismiss Your slave in peace, according to Your word.
Since these words imply he would not live much longer, believers have from the first assumed Simeon was elderly. This means the first two Jerusalem witnesses to recognize Jesus–Simeon and Anna–were old.
Passing years may frost our hair, and furrow our brow, but should not freeze our hearts. The Holy Spirit can keep our spirits young while our bodies age. Memory may finally fail us, but to the last try to remember Him.
Christian greatness manifests itself through a lifetime of faithfulness in three vital areas. One, it says to pain, “I will not quit believing.” The Christian not only endures pain, but also lets God use our hurts to make us better. Blows the devil hopes will discourage us often improve us instead.
Two, Christian greatness says to death, “I will not fear you.” When at our best, Christians not only do not fear death, but actually celebrate what is beyond it. We go through the valley of the shadow of death, knowing that wherever there is a shadow, there has to be light on the other side casting it.
Three, Christian greatness tells aging, “I will not slack off spiritually.” The best of us not only don’t slack off, but plan to let their last years be their best spiritual years ever. Older believers, never say you are past serving. Retirement is our chance to serve God at government expense. Paul did this when he took his missionary journey to Rome. He let Caesar pick up the tab.
Good writers fine-tune their craft by saving the best punch for the end. God wants to write His best chapter about us at the end of our book. “Let my life song sing to you,” the songwriter said. May its best chords be at the end.
Let God make our last days our best days. Pray and read the Bible more than ever. Go on more mission trips. Volunteer in more ministries. We always said this is what we would do when we had more time. Let’s do it.