LUKE 2:25–32, 36–38
At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
I have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared for all people.
He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!” . . .
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
College was a dark season in my life. Though I was surrounded with great friends at a great school, I was secretly overwhelmed with anxiety, depression, and loneliness. As graduation loomed near, and all my other friends were making plans for internships, mission stints, graduate school, marriage, and/or full-time jobs, I was planning to move back in with my parents.
What didn’t help was some version of the constant refrain I always heard in sermons and Bible studies: What are your goals? What is your vision? Dream big dreams and watch what God will do with them. God has a big plan for your life.
But what of my life? I had no goals or dreams. I had no significant other. I was not destined for exotic mission fields, crowds of adoring parishioners, or even gainful employment. Then, after months of wrestling with this, I knelt at the altar during a prayer service and let Jesus have it: “I’d love to give you my dreams and visions,” I said, “if I had any. But you’ve kind of left me hanging here. I’m still waiting for any clue of your big plans for my life.”
Then, in a rare moment of the voice of the Lord in the stillness, Jesus spoke: I am your dream. I am your goal. Whatever you do, and whomever you’re in relationship with, will flow from your relationship with me. Not the other way around.
In other words, the big plan God has for my life is Jesus.
In today’s text, there doesn’t seem to be much about Simeon and Anna. Two elderly folks who spend their final days hanging around the temple. Simeon seems ready to die. Anna was widowed early, and so seems to have spent most of her life fasting and praying. We don’t know anything else about them.
When Jesus, the descendant of King David, shows up in the temple—a place crowded with people waiting for the descendant of King David—no one notices.
Except for the two old prophets.
Why? Because the plan for their lives had always been Jesus. Whatever they did, and whomever they were in a relationship with, seems centered in the hope of the Messiah. And when
Baby Jesus shows up, this old man and this old woman, in what appears to be their final acts, become the first public preachers of the good news.
The secret is not our ambition, but a life “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). It doesn’t matter if we command a huge crowd or live in exotic lands spreading the gospel, or are a grocery bagger or stay-at-home parent in a house we can’t keep clean, the big plan for our life is Jesus. And then, no matter what we’re doing, it’ll preach. That’s why, regardless of the circumstances, we “can do everything through Christ who gives [us] strength” (Phil. 4:13).
The great thing about the incarnation is that Jesus showed up as a baby like we all do. In the Scripture, it didn’t seem to matter who they were or what they did—a peasant girl or a shepherd boy or a rich wise man or an old woman—God’s plan for our Christmas heroes was Jesus. And that’s the real gift of good news for us.
So come, let us adore him.
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