We know the story about the birth of Jesus.
We know the cast of characters.
Jesus (of course!)
The wise men.
But there's three other people who played a role in the early, early part of Jesus' life. And I think they each have something to teach us. Who might these souls be?
Let's begin with Simeon. Simeon was an old man living in Jerusalem, who was considered righteous and devout. He had been eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon Simeon, and he had been told that he would not die until he had looked upon the face of the Promised One.
One day, probably a day that began like any other day, Simeon was led of the Spirit to go to the Temple. There he came upon Mary and Joseph, who were there to present baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required.
Simeon recognized the Promise, the Deliverer, the Savior in the eyes of an infant.
Which is quite *something* when you think about it. Did Simeon know ahead of time that the Messiah would be born as a human child? Did he know that the Redeemer would come as a baby? I'm thinking not. But, he had faith – and he was ready when faith revealed the Truth.
Listen to his words of praise:
"Sovereign Lord…I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to all the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!" (Luke 2:29-32)
Simeon saw a baby – and he recognized God.
We should anxiously anticipate the coming of the Lord. Yes, the actual coming of the Lord – but also the daily moments when Jesus "just shows up." We must follow close after the Holy Spirit, and be filled with His wisdom, so we will be able to recognize the Lord when He appears.
Because, you see, some of the ways He works in our lives is surprising – unexpected situations, unanticipated timing, unusual people – and we could miss Him if we're not on the lookout!
Next is Anna.
Anna was also very old – (I like that the elderly are involved – makes me excited for old age!). She had lost her husband after only 7 years of marriage, and had lived as a widow until the age of 84! She was a prophet, and she was also at the Temple that day. Actually, Anna was always at the Temple – for she had never left – staying there day and night to worship God with fasting and prayer.
She saw Simeon talking with Mary and Joseph – and she immediately began praising God. She eagerly talked to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
Anna saw a baby – and she recognized God.
Anna had pursued Truth for years, and had led a disciplined life of faith. We must do the same. Spiritual pursuits – reading the Word, prayer, corporate worship – all are necessary to the life of faith. We must draw close to God in order to be ready when He reveals His purposes, His opportunities, His timing.
Like Simeon, Anna was on the lookout for the Savior. And when He came along, she was ready to spread the word. We should be like that, too – eager to tell everyone we can that the Redeemer of the world has arrived. Rescue is here!
Finally, King Herod.
Herod, the king of the Jews, had heard the rumors, I'm sure. And when the wise men showed up at his doorstep, asking where to find the new-born king of the Jews, he grew furious! Deeply disturbed, he did what many politicians do when there's a crisis – he called a meeting.
It's interesting that Matthew 2:3 says that everyone in Jerusalem was disturbed – the meeting took place with the leading priests and teachers of religious law. Already, Jesus was stirring up controversy.
Herod tried to kill Jesus – sacrificing the lives of many young boys. But, warned by an angel, Joseph fled with his wife and son to Egypt.
There is an interesting parallel between this flight to Egypt and Israel's history. As an infant nation, Israel went to Egypt, just as Jesus did as a young child. God led Israel out through His deliverer, Moses – just as God would lead sinners out from slavery through THE Deliverer, Jesus.
Herod heard about a baby – and he feared God.
Jesus makes the devil very, very angry.
I wonder what he felt the day that he realized that the Son of God wasn't walking around heaven anymore. Did he wonder where Jesus went? What was his reaction when he realized the secret plan of God? I imagine that he was appalled at the audacity of God. Becoming human? How dare He??
And so, his pursuit began. I'm sure he prodded Herod toward his evil plan. It sounds like our enemy – trying to kill a baby. When he was unsuccessful, I can only imagine the overriding strategy of Satan and his minions – STOP JESUS, at any cost!
Friends, when Jesus arrives in our lives – when we invite Him into our hearts – we can be sure that we will make the enemy very, very angry. Because, he sees Jesus in our hearts – his hated foe. And he will do everything in his power to STOP JESUS, at any cost – which means he will do his best to stop us.
Stop us from being productive, or joyful, or strong, or thankful. He’ll try to thwart us from spreading the word. He'll attempt to drive us to doubt, or discouragement, or despair. He'll tempt us and test us and try us and turn us against Jesus...
If he can.
But, we can take these good lessons to heart…
Look for the daily moments when Jesus "just shows up."
Follow the Holy Spirit closely.
Be filled with His wisdom, so we can recognize Jesus in surprising and unexpected ways.
Lead a disciplined life of faith.
Draw close to God.
Be ready for His purposes, His opportunities, and His timing.
Spread the word about Jesus and His Good News.
Expect to make the enemy angry.
But, never ever give up – seek always, with the Lord’s help, to be productive, joyful, strong, and thankful.
Do not give in to doubt, discouragement, or despair.
Stand firm against tempting and testing and trying circumstances.
For, dear friends, we serve a very special baby – a baby who became the King.
A baby who is our Risen King – forever!
What does the birth of Jesus teach you about your life?
(I am linked today with Joan at the GRACE CAFE. Please join us!)
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