I don’t know about you, but I had hoped that this week, building up to Christmas day would be a quiet one. I was quite happy we had made our plans for the week a while ago and we were organised enough to buy and wrap our presents, order the food, get the house sorted. Little did we know that so many things would change and that we, like everybody else in the country, would have to revise our plans and just be thankful for what we can do instead of complain about the things we can’t.
Needless to say there are many people feeling lonely, hurt and frustrated as we approach the day we are to celebrate the birth of our Saviour. Perhaps cooking the Christmas meal for one or only a couple of people is not worth the effort. Perhaps exchanging presents at a later date won’t have the same “magic feeling”. Watching the Queen’s speech, or any other program, alone is not as good or entertaining. Maybe the church service online won’t feel like church on Christmas day. It certainly is a different day and I am sure we will have many things to talk about in years to come as we look back at this time.
The one thing we can be sure about is that Christmas will never change and can never be stopped. I am talking about the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Jesus became our Immanuel and He came to save us.
On my last post we talked about the Magi coming to see Jesus when he was a toddler and how they worshiped Him. As I continued my Christmas readings in Luke 2 I came across the passage that tells us Mary and Joseph present Jesus in the temple. The person we meet today is Simeon. Simeon was an old man who is described as being devout and righteous. He was full of the Holy Spirit and a promise had been made to him: he would not die before he had seen and he had been waiting for a long time for a promise, God’s promised king.
25 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 on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Luke 2:25-26
I wondered as I read, would I have had the same faith Simeon had? He was still following God’s law and was going to the temple, living his life the best way he could to please God. How long would he live? When was this king coming? Those would certainly be some of the questions I would be asking. We are told the Spirit moved Simeon to go to the temple and when Mary and Joseph take Jesus there this is what happens:
27 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, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:27-32
When Simeon took Jesus in his arms he recognised Him as the King God had promised in the Old Testament. He knew this child was going to bring salvation to Jews and Gentiles. Simeon understood who Jesus was and why He had come.
Simeon also understood that Jesus was going to be spoken against and that not all would recognise and accept Him. He knew Jesus was going to have to suffer to accomplish His mission:
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 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, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.
Even as I am reading these verses again and as I write this post I wonder how many of us will be thanking God that He sent his precious Son to be the saviour of the world. Do we understand what that means? Are we willing to let the Holy Spirit work in us so that we celebrate and recognise Jesus for who He is? Simeon only had the promises of the Old Testament and the law to go by. We have the entire Bible which reveals God’s plan to save us from the beginning all the way to the end. Will we be saying “My eyes have seen your Salvation”? May we be prepared to receive and celebrate king Jesus. May our hearts be filled with the joy only those who recognise how much our salvation cost can have. We celebrate Jesus’s birth so that Easter could take place and on that cross Jesus paid the price to redeem those who will put their trust in Him. May we be ready today, tomorrow and every day to recognise Jesus as the Saviour.
This year might be different, our meals might be quieter than usual, presents might be delayed, but God’s Salvation and hope has come. The king came for me and for you.