PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• For the second year, I’ve organized my church’s Christmas advent book. This is a collection of devotions written by members of the church for the advent season. Today is one of two contributions I made, and I thought I’d share it with you…
When it comes to the hope found in Christmas, I think few of us could experience the same kind of hopeful anticipation as did Simeon. We meet this man of tremendous faith only briefly in Luke 2:25-35 when Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. Simeon had waited for years to meet Jesus. And upon meeting Him, Simeon said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).
Then, after exclaiming his joy at meeting the Messiah, Simeon turned his attention to Jesus’ parents, and specifically to Mary. He said, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34b-35).
As a mother, I can’t help but wonder how she felt about this. We all think our children are destined for greatness, but Mary had actually been visited by an angel who had already set the bar quite high for the future of her Son. And now, here was this man – likely a stranger to the young family – stating words that must have overwhelmed her heart. To be told that her Son would be the One upon whom the eternal fate of everyone on the planet would hinge… that men and women would either rise or fall, depending on their belief in Jesus as the Son of God. To be told that she would experience her own kind of grief as Jesus’ mother… I can only imagine how Mary must have felt. The fear. The questions. The joy. And later, the helplessness. The horror.
I wonder if Simeon’s words haunted Mary as she watched her bleeding and beaten Son nailed to a rough-hewn cross that was dropped into a hole as soldiers mocked and taunted Him.
Pierced through the soul, indeed.
I wonder how she felt over the following days before Jesus left the grave behind. Scripture doesn’t tell us about a reunion with Mary, but I know for certain – there was one. Mary, chosen above all other women to be the mother of God, found in her Son a Savior – just as all who believe in Him.
Hope didn’t die on the cross, but it emerged from a grave because of a baby born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. And all because Jesus, as Simeon so astutely observed, was the “salvation…prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to [God’s] people Israel.”
Today, as you pray, thank God for what this season means — a birth that led to a death that led to a resurrection that led to salvation for all who believe. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you reflect in wonder all that was given to you because of a newborn baby 2000 years ago.