I remember when my firstborn was dedicated at church. With excitement we presented tiny Christine Alane Stewart to the congregation, committing to raise her in our Christian faith. Pictures snapped, a friend sang “Come to the Cradle,” and the minister spoke as we proudly held our adorable little girl. Probably many of you have had similar experiences with your children.
Over 2,000 years ago, Mary and Joseph also made a commitment to God, their son Jesus’ heavenly Father. Forty days after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph took a five-mile, two-hour journey to the temple in Jerusalem to offer a burnt offering as the Old Testament commanded them to do. They were so desperately poor, they did not have a lamb, so they sacrificed two turtledoves, worth about 16 cents (Luke 2:21-39).
God’s choice for His Son’s parents was not based on financial status but probably on their obedience to Him and the scriptures. Luke 2:39 says that when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple, they did “everything required by the law of the Lord.” How delighted God must have been as they dedicated their Son to His heavenly Father.
Someone else delighted in seeing God’s son: Simeon. We know four things about Simeon. He was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; the Holy Spirit was upon him, and he knew that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Simeon is moved by the Spirit and enters the temple courts ready for Jesus. He needs no introduction to his Savior.
Now picture Mary and Joseph. They’ve already had many God-moment confirmations of their Son’s importance—Elizabeth, Zechariah, angels, and excited shepherds. Now they marvel at what Simeon says about their Son: He has come as God’s salvation, a light to the Gentiles, and for glory to the people of Israel (Luke 2:30-32).
But these new parents also hear a troubling warning. Simeon prophesies that Jesus will be a “sign that will be spoken against” (Luke 2:34). And a sword will pierce through Mary’s own soul. How do you think Mary felt when she heard Simeon’s words about her one-month old baby and herself? What would it feel like to hear good news as well as sad news?
I remember the sadness my brother and his wife felt when the doctor explained their firstborn’s health issues. They treasured the infant in their arms and wanted their little boy to have a wonderful life.
Could Mary and Joseph comprehend that wrapped in Simeon’s wonder was a moment of prophecy? Simeon’s prophecy shows that Jesus’ life would include sacrifice and death. And with Simeon’s proclamation, “For my eyes have seen your salvation!” he foreshadows the rest of the story and connects Christmas with Easter.
Christmas is the season for gift giving and receiving. Long ago God picked out the perfect Gift for you. Simeon was waiting for the perfect promised Gift. He received exactly what He wanted—to see His Savior’s face. And in return, Simeon gave God exactly what He wanted—a heart focused on Him.
This Christmas season, let’s give God the gift He wants. Like Simeon, let’s spend Advent looking for Jesus in everything we say or do. What a blessing to know that no matter what is happening in our lives, He is our consolation and deliverer (v. 25). And on December 26 and beyond may we continue to seek Him daily, looking for all that He is doing in our lives and watching and hoping for His Second Coming when we, like Simeon, will see Him face to face.
TO PONDER IN YOUR HEART: May my eyes of faith be opened to all God has for me until the day faith is swallowed up by sight.