SIMEON AND ANNA MEET THE BABY JESUS

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In Luke’s Gospel we read about two elderly people who loved God, served Him with all their hearts, and looked forward to the coming of the promised Messiah.  Luke 2:22-24 tells us that the baby Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day after His birth in obedience to the Law of Moses.  Then after the time of purification, which is thirty-three days for a male child according to Leviticus 12, if the child is the first-born, he was to be brought to the temple to be dedicated to God.  So the baby Jesus was about six weeks old when his parents brought Him to the temple for His dedication, and they also brought two turtle doves as a sacrifice to the Lord.

SIMEON (Luke 2:25-35)

In Luke 2:25 we are told about Simeon.  He was “a righteous and devout man, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”  Verse 26 says that the Holy Spirit revealed to him “that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”  The word “Christ” means “the Anointed One”, the “Messiah”.  Verse 27 tells us that it was the Holy Spirit who led Simeon to go to the temple at the very time when Mary and Joseph were bringing the baby Jesus to the temple to dedicate Him to God.  Simeon was given the ability to recognize that this baby was the Messiah, and as he holds the baby Jesus in his arms, his heart is filled with joy and his words of gratitude are very moving as he says, “Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for my eyes have seen Thy salvation.”  The sight of the baby Jesus in his arms made possible Simeon’s joyful departure from this world.

Jesus’ presence with us today is also real, giving us strength for service, and taking the fear out of dying for those who have put their faith in Him.  I have seen humble believers leave this world with peace, joy, and radiant hope on the faces because they knew that the Lord Jesus was with them and was taking them home to be with Him.  Even martyrs have been able to sing while being burned at the stake.

Simeon’s words that follow in verses 31-35 causes us to realize that Simeon knew that this baby Jesus would someday provide salvation by suffering and dying for our sins.  Simeon also prophesied that Jesus would be a Savior to both Jews and Gentiles, and that Mary’s soul would be pierced by a sword of sorrow at her Son’s death.  Like Simeon, we too must look to Jesus for our salvation.  Like Simeon, we too can rejoice even in the face of death if we know Jesus as our Savior and Lord.  So don’t let hardship and trials rob your Christmas of its deeper joy.

ANNA THE PROPHETESS (verses 36-38)

While Simeon was holding the baby Jesus in his arms, someone else was there in the temple, and she came forward to see the baby Jesus.  Her name was Anna and she was a prophetess of God.  If you add up the numbers in verses 36 and 37 you will find that Anna was over a hundred years old.  Verse 37 says that she “never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.”  Her entire life was devoted to prayer.  What an example she is to us all!

Anna instantly knew that this baby was the Messiah and she immediately gave fervent thanks to God.  But Anna didn’t stop there.  Verse 38 says that Anna “continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”  She  became a ready and willing witness for Jesus Christ, and probably prepared many to follow Him thirty years later when Jesus began His public ministry.  The affects of her witness for Christ continued long after her lifetime here on this earth.

Like Anna, may we pause to reflect upon, and give thanks for, the One who came as a baby in order to save us from the penalty of our sins.  Also, like Anna, let us ask God for opportunities to share the saving work of Christ with others during this Christmas season, so that they too might experience the true and lasting joy of Christmas, and have the peace of heart that only Jesus Christ can give.  During this season of the year when depression and suicides are at their highest, may we radiate the love of Christ, and be ready to give a reason for the hope and joy that is in us.

MAKING ROOM FOR JESUS AT CHRISTMAS

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The real joy of Christmas comes when we discover and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.  The true meaning of Christmas can only be found by asking and answering this question:  “Why did Jesus come to earth?”  Why did Jesus come to earth?  Was it to give us an additional opportunity to “make merry”?  Was it to give people an occasion to spend money on presents, greeting cards, and Christmas decorations?  The purpose of this question is not to condemn these activities, but to cause us to think about the real meaning of Christmas.

Why did Jesus come to earth?  Let’s let Jesus answer that question Himself.  In Matthew 20:28 Jesus says, “. . . the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus was born on this earth in order to die for our sins, as a perfect sacrifice to a holy God.  He didn’t have to come as a helpless infant.  He didn’t have to come and die for our sins, but He chose to do so out of love for each of us.

In John 10:10 Jesus states another reason for His coming to earth.  Jesus said, “I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly.”  Jesus came to give us the kind of life that neither money nor anything else on this earth can buy.

Do you and I have the true joy of Christmas this year?  In the midst of wrapping presents and making preparations, is there room in our lives for Jesus?  Today, over 2000 years after that glorious event, millions of people have no room for Jesus.  Although they participate enthusiastically in the festivities of the Christmas season, the Lord Jesus is kept out of their lives.  How about you?  Is there room in your life for Jesus the Messiah?  What better time than during this season to rededicate your life to Him, or to receive Him into your life as your personal Savior and Lord!

Just prior to World War II, in the country of India, there existed a Christian school for the children of the lowest class of society, called the “untouchables”.  Every year these students received Christmas presents from children in England.  The girls received a doll and the boys received a toy.  On one occasion the doctor from a nearby mission hospital was asked to hand out the gifts.  While he was there, he told the youngsters about a village where the boys and girls had never heard of Jesus.  He suggested that maybe they would like to give them some of their old toys as presents.  The children liked the idea and agreed to do so.  A week later the doctor returned to collect the gifts.  One by one the children filed by and handed the doctor a doll or a toy.  To his great surprise, they all gave the new present they had just received a week earlier.  When he asked “why”, a girl spoke up and said, “Think what God did by giving us His only Son.  Could we give Him less than our best?”

What’s it going to be like for you on the day after Christmas – when Christmas is over?  Let’s go back to the original Christmas.  On the day following Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph were faced with the ordinary tasks of caring for a new baby.  The shepherds would be back on the hillside tending their sheep.  All the elements were present for an emotional letdown, which often follows an emotional high.  But I don’t believe they experienced any “after-Christmas blues”.  Mary and Joseph didn’t quickly forget all that happened, and the shepherds couldn’t easily forget what they had seen and heard.  The angelic message had proven to be true, and their lives were filled with new hope and anticipation.

Two thousand years later, we have the full story.  Jesus came into this world to die for our sins.  He then conquered death by rising from the grave.  We have more truth to ponder and more reasons to glorify God than did Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds.  We need not experience an “after-Christmas letdown”.  As we remind ourselves of the birth, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, may each day of our lives be filled with joy.

May you have a joyous Christmas season, and “after-Christmas” season!