Sermon on the Gospel according to Luke | What Simeon Saw | Luke 2:22-34

What Simeon Saw (Luke 2:22-34)

One winter when I preached in West Virginia, we got an inch or two of snow during worship. I offered to help the elderly ladies to the car, and one dear sister—Edith Runyan—took me up on the offer.

Edith and I locked arms and hands and began our journey. As we descended the front steps, I slipped, fell, and pulled Edith right down on top of me. So here was the preacher lying in the snow with an 86-year-old woman on top of him. In a panic, I looked up at Edith and she was laughing hysterically. She was just fine, but Edith would tell any and every body about my making her fall.

Haven’t you fallen, too? Maybe you slipped on some ice walking to the mailbox. Maybe you tripped on a curb walking into a store. Maybe you embarrassed yourself because you fell down with an audience. Maybe you fell and injured yourself.

Jesus can make you fall. Simeon approached Mary and Joseph in the temple. Through the Holy Spirit, Simeon looked into the future and saw that: “Jesus causes many people to fall.

Scripture (Luke 2:22-34)

verses 22-24:

Mary and Joseph obeyed the Law of Moses, and their offering demonstrates that they were extremely poor.

verses 25-28:

Simeon, a “righteous and devout” man who was patiently waiting for the Messiah, came up to Jesus’s parents and took Jesus in his arms. Simeon had been waiting for the Messiah, had been told he would not die until he had seen the Messiah, and spoke by the Holy Spirit.

verses 29-32:

Notice from Simeon’s prayer:

  • God is faithful. God had promised that Simeon would not die until he had seen the Messiah, and, since he had now seen the Messiah, Simeon could “depart in peace.”
  • Jesus came to save everyone. God has prepared his salvation “in the presence of all peoples.” Jesus would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles [and] a glory to . . . Israel.” Anyone who wishes—Jew or Gentile, black or white or Hispanic or Asian or whatever—can come to Jesus.

verses 34-35:

Simeon had difficult words for Mary.

  • Jesus would be for the falling and rising of many in Israel. Many would be raised up because they believed in Jesus, but many would also fall because of Jesus.
  • Jesus would be opposed. From the scribes and Pharisees simply opposing his teaching to their working in conjunction with the Roman authorities to put him to death, Jesus was certainly opposed.
  • A sword would pierce Mary’s heart, too. Can you imagine the sword that pierced Mary’s heart at the foot of the cross as she saw her Son die in unfathomable agony for the sins of all the world?


Jesus causes many people to fall.” Jesus told the disciples shortly before his betrayal: “You will all fall away because of me this night” (Matt 26:31). The Twelve had a decision to make—they could stand with Jesus and risk death or run away and save their own skin. You know what they chose. Jesus told representatives of John the Baptizer, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matt 11:6); that statement only makes sense if some were offended by Jesus.

Jesus causes many people to fall.” Why do people fall because of Jesus? Let’s take a look at some people who fell because of Jesus.

One: The Fall of Fame.

After Jesus was born, some magi came to Jerusalem and said, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matt 2:2). Herod heard this and “was troubled” (Matt 2:3); Herod had been appointed king, so one who had been born king would have a stronger claim to the throne than Herod. Herod told the magi to find the child and to come back and tell him where the child was so that he, too, could worship. The magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went home another way.

When the magi did not return, Herod “became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under” (Matt 2:16). Herod would not allow Jesus to get in the way of his Fame, of his self-importance, of his pride, of his ego.

Do you allow your own Fame—your ego—to get in the way of Jesus? Are there sins who haven’t confessed because of your pride? Are there parts of the Bible you don’t obey because you know better? “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18). Is your haughty spirit going before a fall?

Two: The Fall of Finances.

Jesus told a rich young man to sell his possessions and give to the poor if he wanted eternal life. “When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matt 19:22). Judas was a thief (cf. Jn 12:6) who went to the chief priests and asked, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” (Matt 26:15). Judas received 30 pieces of silver and began to seek an opportunity to betray Jesus.

Paul explained why people fall because of Finances: 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

Do you allow your Finances to get in the way of Jesus? How is your giving to the church? How generous are you to people who are hurting? Do you have possessions or hobbies which get in the way of your service to God? Do you have possessions or hobbies you could use to glorify God? Are you falling because of your Finances?

Three: The Fall of Fear

Three times Peter denied he knew Jesus (Matt 26:69-75). Earlier that same night, Peter had told Jesus, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” (Matt 26:35). But when he got in that moment, Peter feared for his life, and he fell.

You cannot allow yourself to fall over Fear. The cowardly will have “their portion . . . in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Rev 21:8).

Do you allow your Fear to get in the way of Jesus? Do you avoid getting help for a sin because you’re afraid of what people might think if they knew? Are you too fearful to share your faith with a friend? Are you too afraid to do right in the face of your family? Are you falling because of your Fear?

Four: The Fall of Faith

Saul of Tarsus was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1). Why did he do such a thing? Because his Faith dictated it. Paul told Agrippa, “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). Saul knew what he believed, and he wasn’t about to let Jesus get in the way of it.

Proper faith flows from what God has said, not what you think. Scripture, you see, came from God, not man: “We . . . thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess 2:13).

Do you allow your Faith to get in the way of Jesus? When you read Scripture, do you simply skim the text because you already know what it’s going to say? Do you hold on to ideas because that’s what Brother So-and-So always believed? Are you falling because of your Faith?


Yes, “Jesus causes many people to fall.” However, Simeon also saw that Jesus causes people to rise. If you humble yourself before the Lord, you can rise: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (Js 4:10). Do you need to come and allow the Lord to exalt you this morning?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

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