2019 Advent Devo: Great Expectations

I remember well the anticipation of Christmas when I was a child, watching as my father climbed the pull down stairs to the attic to retrieve the Christmas tree, lights and decorations, helping my mother choose just the right place for each ornament.  I remember hanging the stockings on the mantle in the living room while taking great care to make sure they were not too close to the hearth and potential danger from the fires that would burn there over the holidays.  I remember choosing the perfect gift for each friend and family member on my list, wrapping each gift carefully and placing it just so under the tree, making the list for Santa of all the things I wanted.  Then on Christmas Eve, I remember the feeling that something wonderful was going to happen mixed with a tiny bit of anxiety that potential disaster loomed.  What if Santa didn’t get my wish list? What if Santa ran out of the very thing at the top of my list before he got to me? What if Santa forgot me completely? In the rush of planning, shopping, wrapping, caroling and parties, I focused so much on presents that I failed to remember with joy the real reason for the season: The birth of a Messiah.  The coming of a King.

When I read Luke 2 and consider Simeon, I am reminded that many generations of God’s chosen people lived in anticipation of the coming of their Messiah and died before His birth.   But Simeon was different.  Very little about Simeon is revealed in Scripture. There is nothing about his background, which tribe he belonged to, whether he was married or had children, what occupation he held.  Only three things that speak to his character and relationship with God are mentioned:   he was righteous and devout, he was waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. In fact, verse 26 says that the Holy Spirit had told him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

When the Holy Spirit led him to the temple that day, did he know what was going to happen?  Did he have a feeling that there was something special about this day?  Whether or not he sensed that this day would bring unimaginable joy, he allowed himself to be led by the Spirit to go to the temple on the very day when Mary and Joseph would be there to present Jesus to the Lord.  Scripture does not reveal exactly how the Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that Jesus was the Messiah, but when he saw Jesus, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations; a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

Simeon recognizes Jesus as the Messiah.  He doesn’t see the leader of a political movement or military revolution.  He doesn’t see a revival of the strict law-keeping that religious leaders of the day would have taught.  He hasn’t been expecting this kind of fulfillment of prophecy.  Instead he is holding all that he has longed for in his arms.  This tiny baby with seemingly no power at all is the all-powerful God.  What joy Simeon must have felt at that moment! Then Simeon blesses Mary and Joseph and looks forward to what is to come.  He speaks to the impact of the incarnation and the varying responses to the anointed One.

When we think about Simeon, we see a picture of fulfilled expectations and realized hope.  Though our perspective is different from Simeon’s, we also see Jesus as the fulfillment of all the Old Testament anticipates.  The Lord’s Messiah has come to comfort and save his people.  We rejoice in His coming not only during Advent season but also all throughout the year.  And as we rejoice, we also long for the day when He will come again.

You are loved!
Melissa Holland