Waiting with hope
At this time of year children are waiting excitedly for Christmas – hoping for the big day when they will finally get their presents! As Christians, Christmas is the time when we once again celebrate the birth our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Carols tell of the baby Jesus in the manger, and Christmas cards picture the scene in the stable. But we seldom hear much about what happens next! Today we’re going to look at this lesser known aspect of the birth of Jesus. For just as God prepared for his Son to come to earth as a baby, so he also prepared those who would wait with hope for his appearing.
Reflect on the scene in the temple
- From verse 22, why did Joseph and Mary take Jesus up to Jerusalem? (See also Exodus 13:2).
- What does this tell you about this couple?
- What things do we learn about Simeon from verses 25 and 26?
In obedience to God’s laws, Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. And a man named Simeon is there. We know very little about Simeon, except that he was ‘righteous and devout’. We also know that he was one of the faithful remnant of Israel who trusted the promises of God. He was waiting with hope for the day when God would send his servant, the Messiah, who would bring consolation and comfort to God’s people. And God, by the Holy Spirit, had placed a special longing in Simeon’s heart for the Messiah to come. In fact the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ (Messiah).
Reflect on the words of Simeon
- How do verses 27 and 28 demonstrate that God is at work keeping his promise to Simeon?
- From verse 29 what is the first thing Simeon declares when he takes the baby Jesus in his arms?
- Considering that Jesus is only a helpless baby, what is so amazing about what Simeon says in verse 30?
- How do verses 31 and 32 reflect what the Prophet Isaiah had foretold about the Messiah? (See Isaiah 49:3-6)
As soon as Simeon takes Jesus in his arms he declares that he, Simeon, can now die peacefully. His long wait is over. By faith Simeon recognises the baby Jesus as the one who will bring salvation to all peoples. God has kept his promise to Simeon that he would see the Lord’s Christ (v 26). God has kept his promise to Israel that he would send one who would comfort his people. God has kept his promise made so long ago to Abraham: that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 12:2-3).
But wait, there’s more..
- The baby Jesus is now a man. In this passage we come to the time when he is about to die on the cross to bring God’s promised salvation. What is Jesus telling his disciples in verses 1 and 2?
- What great promise does Jesus make in verse 3?
Are you waiting for the return of Jesus? Will you, like Simeon, wait with hope, knowing that Jesus’ promise to return is sure? He will come back, just as he said. So let’s live now in ways that ensure we will not be ashamed when he returns. 1 Thessalonians. 5:23b-24 says: May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
This Christmas, let’s share the good news of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah who came to save his people. And, just as Simeon longed for the first coming of Jesus, let’s ask God to set a longing in our hearts for his return.
Something to sing about
Here are a couple of traditional hymns that reflect today’s theme: Come those Long Expected Jesus ( Laura Story, Charles Wesley); O Come O Come Emmanuel (Sovereign Grace); Lo, He comes with Clouds Descending (Charles Wesley)