Luke 2: 25 – 32; 36 – 38 Jesus Didn’t Get Old October 24, 2021


Jesus Didn’t Get Old

Luke 2: 25 – 32; 36 – 38


(preached October 24, 2021)


There are a lot of old people in the Bible.  Maybe you’ve heard of Methuselah.  Methuselah was said to be 969 years old when he died (Genesis 5:27).  Of course you’ve heard of Noah.  The Bible says Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came over the earth (Genesis 7: 6).  And, later in Genesis, Abraham and Sarah also lived to a ripe old age.


The two old people we find in our gospel passage for today, from the gospel of Luke, are two of my favorite old people in the Bible.  Luke tells us that Simeon was righteous and devout, and that God’s Spirit rested on him.  When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to be dedicated in the temple, Simeon recognized that their baby was the Savior God had promised would save his people.  Simeon sang to God a hymn of praise: “My eyes have seen your salvation… a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for the glory of your people Israel.”  Anna was also a deeply devout person.  She was quieter than Simeon, but I imagine that when she saw Jesus, her face shone with joy.  Her expression said more than words ever could.


There are a lot of old people in the Bible.  But Jesus isn’t one of them.  You know, sometimes I wish Jesus had gotten old.  I wish Jesus had gone through aging, as he went through so many human experiences.  Jesus felt hunger and thirst.  He knew what it was like to be fearful, or happy, or angry.  He got tired and needed to nap at times.


Jesus went through a lot of what you and I go through.  We can look to him as a role model for how to handle things like fear, anger, and fatigue in a Christ-like way.  We can do what he did.  He shows us how to pray, how to comfort a friend, how to love.  He shows us how to live and how to die.


But when it comes to getting old, it’s harder simply to take Jesus’ example and do what he did.  Jesus didn’t get old.  But getting older is something all of us face, if we live long enough.  And getting old can be tough.  I think it was the actress Bette Davis who said, “Old age is not for sissies.”  One man describes his experience of aging this way:


“You know you’re getting older when almost everything hurts.  What doesn’t hurt doesn’t work anymore.  All the names in your little black book end in M.D.  You get winded playing chess.  You look forward to a dull evening.  You still chase women but have forgotten why.  Your knees buckle and your belt won’t.  You try to straighten the wrinkles in your socks and find you aren’t wearing any.  A little old gray-haired lady tries to help you across the street.  She’s your wife.”


Getting old can be tough.  It can be especially tough because we live in a culture that praises youth and youthfulness.  Every year millions of dollars are spent on cosmetics that promise to make us look younger.  Movies and TV shows seldom feature older people; when they do, the old folks are usually cast as buffoons.  In the workplace, it’s not uncommon for older, more experienced employees to be let go in favor of younger workers.  The wisdom we might acquire is often ignored while the world chases after the latest fad among the younger generation.


Getting old can be tough.  At times you and I may wish for some guidance on how to handle it.  If we look to the life of Jesus to learn exactly how to handle it, to do exactly what he did, we may be disappointed.  But if we look more deeply, if we look beneath the surface to the faith that guided him, we find that Jesus’ life does have a lot to offer as we get older.


This morning I’d like to reflect on three ways Jesus’ faith guided him.  First, Jesus urges us not to focus only on ourselves and our own lives.  He urges us to pay attention to the needs of the world around us, no matter how old we are.  Look at how Jesus did his ministry.  When he encountered hungry people, he made sure they were fed.  When he saw someone in pain, he reached out with hands of healing.  It seems to me that as we get older, we tend to pull inward.  We tend to put our own concerns front and center.  We don’t think as much about how we might serve those in need.  Jesus urges us to continue living lives of service.


The second thing we can learn from Jesus is harder, I think:  how to let go.  As we get older, there’s no denying that we have to let go of some things.  We may have to leave a home we love because we can’t cut the grass or shovel the snow anymore.  Or, our vision may get worse.  We may have to let go of the car keys and give up driving.  Our good friends may become disabled and can’t do things with us the way they used to.  Getting older means letting go of some things.  Getting older brings losses.


We can learn a lot about letting go from Jesus, as he neared the end of his earthly life.  The night before he was arrested and put to death, Jesus prayed in the garden, asking God to “take this cup from me.”  Jesus didn’t deny that he was dreading what was ahead for him.  He poured out that dread to God.  Then he said, “Thy will, not mine, be done” (Luke 22: 42).  Jesus could let go of his friends, his ministry, even his life, knowing that God was in charge and would be with him.


In a similar way, you and I can turn to God in prayer.  We can ask God to help us with the losses that aging brings.  When we have to leave a home we love, we can ask God to help us open our hearts with love for our new home.  When a dear friend becomes disabled, we can pray for God’s comfort.  When we can’t drive any more, we can ask God to open our eyes to what we might do closer to home.


If you’re starting to get the idea that we’ll be talking to God more as we get older, you’re on the right track.  One more thing we can learn from Jesus, to help us as we age, is to grow closer to God.  For the first two thirds of our lives or so, we put a lot of energy into achieving things.  We finish school and enter the world of work.  Maybe we get married and have a family.  We’re busy out in the world, hoping to achieve our goals, interacting with other people.


But as the years go by, we can benefit by growing closer to God, listening for God’s voice in our hearts.  We can take time for conversation with God.  We can thank God, and ask for God’s help, and listen for the ways God may be speaking to us.


It’s true that Jesus didn’t get old.  We can’t look to his life for a step by step example of what to do as our bodies age and we have to give up some things we hold dear.  But from Jesus’ life we can see three things: first, how important it is to pay attention to the needs of the world.  Also, from Jesus’ life, we can learn the art of letting go.  And, as Jesus did, we can grow closer to God.  We can seek God’s presence so that even when some doors begin to close, we sense the opening of another door:  the door that leads to a peace that passes understanding.









Rev. Elva Merry Pawle

Pentecost 22