Today there are two elderly saints dominated by wonderful choices that they lived by. They are remarkable models for us to follow as each of us ponders what the Lord has offered us this Christmas season. Please join me in Luke 2:22 for their biography.
The last message we need to hear from the characters of Christmas comes from the lives of Simeon and Anna. These two dear Old Testament saints give us one of the clearest challenges that every one of us who know and love Jesus need to hear – Finishing Life Fruitfully for Jesus.
- Simeon and Anna model Finishing Life Fruitfully for Jesus.
- They lived a life that mattered, that counted, that pleased Jesus.
- Fruitful life that pleases God is a CHOICE.
- It is a chosen path.
- What pathway are you choosing to live?
If Christ’s coming, or an accident He allows or a disaster He chooses doesn’t intervene — each of us in this room will live to be nearly 80 years old. Some of us here may have exceeded that length of days, but for the vast majority, there are many years of days left for us. What choices are you making today to be Finishing Life Fruitfully for Jesus?
First we need to read the record of this dear couple in Luke 2:22-40.
Please stand with me as we read these sacred verses and then pray.
- Simeon was Spirit Filled: Luke 2:25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
- Simeon was Spirit Illumined: Luke 2:26 And 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 Spirit Led: Luke 2:27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law,
- Simeon was Spirit Satisfied: Luke 2:28-29 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; The word depart in the Greek has several meanings, and each of them tells us something about the death of a Christian. It means to release a prisoner, to untie a ship and set sail, to take down a tent (see 2 Cor. 5:1–8), and to unyoke a beast of burden (see Matt. 11:28–30). God’s people are not afraid of death because it only frees us from the burdens of this life and leads into the blessings of the next life.
- Simeon was Spirit Sealed: Luke 2:30-32 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”
So Simeon departs from the pages of God’s Word — Finishing Life Fruitfully for Jesus.
Now look at the elements of the life of Anna. She is also Finishing Life Fruitfully for Jesus. What do we see in her life? She lives out the Scriptural pattern for ending life pleasing to God. Trace her story that is recorded by the Spirit of God for our instruction in Luke 2.36 and onward.
- Anna was Staying faithful and fruitful to the end of her life (Luke 2.36a). Anna had grown old but kept on serving the Lord, as she “worshiped Him by prayer and fasting”.
- Anna was Willing to be what God wanted her to be (Luke 2.36b) — even if it’s not much by others estimation! She was a nobody except to God.
- Anna was Avoiding/Resisting the crippling attitudes of despair, disillusionment and bitterness (Luke 2.37a). Anna had known pain, but kept on trusting the Lord as a “widow”.
- Anna was Giving what she had (Luke 2.37b) – time to pray and fast.
- Anna was Praising the Lord immediately (Luke 2.38b) — when she saw an answer to her prayers.
- Anna was Willing to share with others (Luke 2.38b) — what God was doing in her life.
What guide did Simeon and Anna follow? What was the pattern that they chose to emulate? These two notable lives were the result of believing and following God’s Word. There is a chapter in the Bible they both knew well – they lived it.
I think we can find that wonderful pattern in Psalm 92, and as we read it you will see exactly what they are like when we find them in Luke 2. They heard that God wanted them planted in the courts of God – and that is where they are. They knew He wanted them to flourish – and they were.
The last four verses of Psalm 92 are the marching orders that I believe God has laid down for each of us. This is what I want to be and what we all should want to be by God’s grace more each day that we live.
- Here is what Simeon an Anna knew from their youth in the synagogues.
- Here is what they read in God’s Word and meditated upon as young people.
- Here is what they saw God wanted – and chose to do on a daily basis.
- Here is what they never stopped being — They were like Palm trees. What is a palm tree like? Just like Simeon and Anna, and just like you and I should be.
First — Flourish like the Palm Tree in the desert!
- The palm tree grows in good clean soil. When you find these beautiful fruit-bearing trees in California, Iraq, Jericho, or anywhere else, you will never find them planted or growing among rocks or worthless soil. Jesus Christ is our righteousness. His grace has brought righteousness to us, which we receive by faith, on the grounds ‘and merit of His shed blood. As those declared righteous, we grow in the clean soil of the Bible, of good books, and by keeping ourselves unspotted from the world.
- The palm tree grows from the inside out. An oak tree can be rotten and dead in the inside, but it will still be very much alive on the outside. We all remember our childhood days, when we would play and hide in an old oak tree. But it is not so with the palm tree. If it is rotten on the inside, it will die. The life of the righteous is not determined or conditioned by outward appearances, ritual or circumstance. It all comes from within. Solomon gave sterling advice with his words, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) The Lord’s words to the prophet Samuel are still profitable to us today: “…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”(l Samuel 16:7) The believer’s life is not made up of a lot of externalities, of rules and regulations by men and religions. The Lord Jesus said,” A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” (Matthew 12:35)
- The palm tree grows no branches. To be sure, there are the fronds at the top but no branches. In other words, it spends no time on side issues. A friend told me of a conversation which he had with the manager of one of the best-known entertainers in the world. After my friend had listened as the man told him of his main responsibility in his job, namely, to keep the entertainer sober until he appeared on the platform, my friend gave his personal testimony of his commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. The manager listened courteously and intently. Then he said, ‘You are right. We, in the entertainment world, are simply trying to paint a sinking ship.” And so, for the palm tree, the word found on the seal of the state of New York would be the same: “Excelsior”-always upward!
- All of the fruit of the palm tree is at the top. In other words, everything for God! This is the ambition of the righteous. Personal endeavor and achievement, social activity and serving mankind, will have the underlying motive of glorifying the God adored by the righteous. The “single eye” is a rare item, but when it is found among the Lord’s people, it is a gem of highest value and price. Desert nomads would be the first to inform us that the palm tree grows where it is needed. When the children of Israel reached Elim, they were lured to the twelve wells of water in the desert by the sight of the seventy palm trees. The Lord Jesus, in His great high priestly prayer in John 17, pointed out that His children are: out of the world, not of the world, but are in the world, and have been sent into the world. We are planted in this moral and spiritual desert in order that we may be signals to the hungry and thirsty that there is satisfaction to be found in the One who has redeemed us.
Second, Grow like the cedars in the stormy mountains of Lebanon.
Decide to Plant your life in God’s Presence like a tree in the Temple Courts.
Decide to Overflow with God’s Grace like sap from a pine tree.
Decide to Affirm the Goodness of God: He is upright; He is my Rock; He is Good. Decide to Make the Goodness of the Lord your life long testimony.
Wiersbe, W. W. 1996, c1989. The Bible exposition commentary. “An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire ‘BE’ series”–Jkt. Victor Books: Wheaton, Ill.
Roy Gustafson, In His Land Seeing Is Believing. Minneapolis, Minnesota: World Wide Publications, 1980, p. 75-78.