Wednesday, September 16, 2009
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:8-14)
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:25-26).
Both of these passages reveal the great sense of anticipation that there must have been during this time. The angels must have no doubted anticipated the coming of the Messiah for a long time, and now it was finally there...though once again in a way that they would have never expected. The same can be said about Simeon. Here we have a human whom God has spoken to. God has told him that the promised Messiah will come during his lifetime. Luke doesn't say that God gives Simeon any details, though. No doubt like many Jews he imagined one resembling King David. Definitely not a baby! Yet when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus into the Temple, the Most High God whispered into Simeon's ear and said, "Your Messiah!"
With both the angels and Simeon, this anticipation has now given way to fulfillment, and the only response is rejoicing. The angels couldn't contain themselves, but, in keeping with God's plan, they revealed their rejoicing to a group of lowly shepherds. So picture that for a moment: when you see an angel walk up to you, you're definitely a little scared. But when you look up into the sky and see a multitude of angels praising God...that's got to be amazing.
God, may my anticipation grow as we draw near to Advent and Christmas. May I more fully grasp the magnitude of what happened 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. May I not miss it. And may my anticipation give way to rejoicing. Capture my heart with the majesty, humility and power of Jesus, and through it change the way that I live.