The Herald Weekly Vol XVII : 49

Who looks forward to Christmas?

Who looks forward to the Christmas season? The children, of course! They look forward to the presents that they would receive from their parents, other family members and friends. The adults, in actual fact, sometimes dread this end-of-year festive season. The young people may look forward to the partying, dancing and merry-making…but these seem to the wrong reasons.

1. An elderly man

A very long time ago, a very old man looked forward to receiving a gift from God. He worshipped in the temple of God. He loved to look at the babies whom the parents brought to the temple. He probably looked at each baby carefully, smiling at them, and wondered whether if the baby he was looking at was the special one. This old man was Simeon. He was familiar with the Scriptures which foretold of the Saviour that God was going to send to the world.

Simeon was a devout believer in God’s Word, and God had promised him that he would get to see this special baby before he died (Luke 2:25-32). Though Simeon was very elderly, yet he looked forward to that great gift from God. And, finally, the special day came when Simeon saw Joseph and Mary come into the temple to dedicate baby Jesus to God, as the custom was to do so. Jesus’ parents were poor, so they probably brought two turtledoves as an offering to God. When Simeon saw the baby Jesus, all of a sudden, he knew that this was the special baby he had been waiting to see all his life. He looked at the baby and gave thanks to God that the Saviour had come.

Simeon said: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen salvation which thou hast prepared before the face of all people. A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of the people of Israel.” (Lk 2:29-32) He thanked God for sending His son and keeping His promise. Joseph and Mary marveled at Simeon’s words, and were glad that he blessed them and their child.

2. An elderly woman

Another elderly person came towards Joseph and Mary, to take a look at baby Jesus. Anna, 84 years old, had been a widow for many years. She was a prophetess, and shared that God spoke to her, and promised that she too would get to see the Saviour before her death. When she saw baby Jesus, she blessed the baby, and praised and thanked God. Everyone around Anna and Simeon must have heard how they thanked God for the precious gift which God had sent to the world.

The scene in Luke chapter 2 highlights the historical fulfillment of God’s promise to His people, Israel. It also showed how two persons waited patiently for the arrival of the Messiah of their people. The baby Jesus was the one which Simeon and Anna had been longing and looking for. Having seen God’s Promise, Simeon was satisfied, and he was ready to die. The arrival of the Messiah brought joy to Simeon’s heart. It was the reason for the season; the only reason for his life, and his dying!

Simeon was an ordinary Jew, a righteous man, a man full of the Holy Spirit; one who honoured God in his life. His main focus was to wait for the “consolation of Israel.” Anna’s life of praying and fasting was also motivated by the coming of the Messiah. And when she saw the baby Jesus, she “spake of him to ALL them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (Lk 2:38)

In the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas, we may actually miss the true meaning of what we are celebrating. Caught up in the festive season, we busy ourselves with buying of and wrapping presents, sending out the Christmas cards to family friends and clients; the rich food for the party, colourful new clothes for the parties, and so on. We become so busy with the trivialities of the season that we often miss the birth of the person of Jesus Christ, the Promised One.

As we prepare for Christmas, perhaps we should stop for a while and reflect on the reason for the festive season in December. Should we not rejoice in the fact that we know Christ, and believe in Him. Our satisfaction in life should not be in the roast turkeys and smoked ham that we can eat, the fine wines, or even the lovely presents that loved ones bought for us.

When you talk to your loved ones this Christmas, what would you give as your reason for the festive season? Are you thankful to God that Christ has already come to be our Saviour? Can you share the Good News of Christ’s coming with those around you as Simeon and Anna did?

Let us be reminded that the celebration of Christmas is about the baby Jesus – the child of God’s promise. The One, whose sinless life would take away God’s wrath from the people who sinned against Him. Through Christ our sins are forgiven. Those who believe in Him will become God’s children, and will live with Him forever when Christ returns to bring us back to the Heavenly Father.

May we, like Simeon and Anna, be filled with God’s Holy Spirit (not drunk with wine), and give thanks for the birth of Jesus Christ; continue to study God’s Word, pray and fast, and tell others about the true meaning of Christmas. May we also wait patiently for His Second Coming!

Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves, and continue to encourage each other in the Lord as we wait for His return.

Pastor Bob Phee
(1st printing 10 Dec 2017)

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