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. Luke 2:29–31
When Mary and Joseph were in the temple courts with baby Jesus, they were approached by Simeon. Luke tells us, “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah” (2:26). So what was Simeon doing in the meantime? He was waiting for the hope of Israel. He watched. He prayed. He kept hope alive.
We don’t know how many months, years, or decades Simeon waited. What if he had given up on his hope? He would have missed the moment for which he was created. But he didn’t give up. Simeon kept waiting until one day when he took Jesus in his arms, and he knew. This is the song of the waiter: “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations” (2:30–31).
No sooner did Simeon walk away than there’s a beautiful, strange, haunting, and amazing song from Anna, a woman who lived 84 years as a widow. It would have been easy for her to be hopeless or bitter about having such a difficult life, but we’re told, “She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (v. 38).
Like Simeon and Anna, in this life we wait. Don’t lose patience. Don’t give up. In Jesus the invasion of earth by heaven has begun in earnest, and it will be carried through until God is occupying every moment and every inch.
Contemplate Luke 2:22–40, considering the events from the perspectives of Simeon and Anna. How would you describe their waiting and their joy?
Written by John Ortberg
John Ortberg is the senior pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18
The annunciation to Mary is a powerful event. But how does Joseph discover that Mary is pregnant? According to Matthew 1:18, Joseph does not first find out about Jesus through an angel. Either Joseph deduced it as he saw physical changes in Mary, or Mary told him herself.
Think about what it must have felt like for Joseph in that moment. The person he’s supposed to marry is pregnant and he knows he’s not the father. And it gets worse: In verse 19 we read, “[He] did not want to expose her to public disgrace.” This does not mean that Joseph didn’t want to embarrass her. This is a reference to Deuteronomy 22:23–24 which says, “If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married”—like Mary—“and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death.” Joseph thinks Mary has done something so shameful that she could be killed for it.
For Joseph this is a moment of ultimate disgrace. This is probably one of the worst moments of his entire life. And this is the point at which the angel comes. Joseph’s life is falling apart, but the angel makes it crystal clear that God is still present in this shameful moment. When Joseph likely feels the worst about his life, God is actually closer to him than ever. And it is here, this moment, when Joseph miraculously discovers that God is going to do something magnificent—that Jesus will save his people from their sins.
Contemplate Matthew 1:18–25. Prayerfully consider: How might you have felt if you were in Joseph’s position?
Written by Peter Chin
Peter Chin is the lead pastor at Rainer Avenue Church in Seattle and is the author of Blindsided by God.
Are you looking for a creative way to share the beauty of advent with your friends? You can easily update your profile picture with a banner that says, So This is Christmas. You can add it to any photo, but we think it would be great to post a family Christmas picture; one that's maybe not so perfect! It's a great way to start a conversation with your friends and family about discovering what Christmas is really all about.