Most people miss the significance of Christmas. Is it all about Santa Claus, shopping, exchanging gifts or eating a lot of food? Is it about spending time with family? Or even about the baby in the manger? Don’t answer this last question too quickly. Instead of focusing on the baby in the manger, I want to focus on the baby when he was eight days old.
Let’s go back 2,000 years to Judea in Luke 2:21-35.
“On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” –NIV
How can you bless God’s baby? —Ready Yourself
Did Simeon just wake up one morning to the Lord’s voice directing him to the temple courts? There’s a lot more to Simeon than what’s revealed in Luke 2. Simeon is typically pictured as a very old man, but nothing in Scripture supports this. Tradition says he was 113 years old—but it’s only tradition (The Wiersbe Bible Commentary). He had spent a long time praying, watching, and waiting for the consolation or comfort of Israel. The Consolation was a term used by the Jews of that period, and long after, to refer to the Messiah. Simeon had waited many, many years for this moment—the coming of the Messiah. Simeon’s years in private preparation made him ready for the moment in public. Our private moments prepare us for our public moments.
Yet, in the midst of this God had someone (He always does, one way or another) who had faith—who never lost hope. In the darkness, Simeon saw a little gleam of light. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that before his death he would see the Messiah. He lived in close communion with the Holy Spirit.
Simeon was available. He made time. This thought haunts me. I know I often miss opportunities to speak to people and touch them with God’s love and hope. In my hurriedness, I overlook divine appointments that were made for me.
How can you ready yourself? Live in the consciousness of God and recognize His awesomeness in the everyday activities of life. Be quick to repent and keep short accounts. If it’s been a while since you’ve asked the Lord and someone else for forgiveness, a crust can form over your heart—so don’t delay.
Are you ready to hear God’s voice when He speaks to you?
How can you bless God’s baby? —Ready Yourself
How can you bless God’s baby? Recognize Him
The nation of Israel suffered for hundreds of years under the oppression of other empires. They longed for the Messiah to come and deliver them from the Romans. They were in for a big surprise!
I’m sure Simeon pictured this moment—how similar would it be? When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus into the temple, the Spirit moved Simeon (at that exact moment) to enter the temple. He took the child in his arms and raised his voice in a hymn of praise.
Joseph and Mary were amazed by Simeon’s words. He told them God would offer salvation to the Gentiles through their son. This would certainly startle them—a typical Jewish attitude toward the Gentiles. Non-Jews were thought of as “unclean dogs”.
After he blessed them, Simeon brought words that must have cast a sombre cloud over their joy. This child would become a sign, pointing men to God—rejected and spoken against. When we reject Christ, we reveal who and what we really are. Today our response to the Good News of Jesus Christ—acceptance or rejection—continues to be the thermometer by which our spiritual health is determined.
Simeon’s final words were for Mary. Though Jesus would grow up to become the perfect Son, He was destined to bring anguish into her life. His childhood days growing up in Nazareth were peaceful ones for Mary—the day would come for anguish and sorrow. During His ministry, especially during His death on the cross, she would feel the full brunt of this prophecy.
What is the Lord doing in your life? What is the Lord doing in the church and in the world around you?
How can you bless God’s baby? —Ready Yourself —Recognize Him
You can embrace or reject the Lord and His plan for you. It is your choice. Which will you choose?
Allan Pole, CESLM President email@example.com