Recognizing Immanuel

Pause: Luke 2:21-40

Today we meet Simeon and Anna in Jerusalem as their longing for a Messiah is recognized in the Baby nestled in a young mama’s arms. They spot Him not because a golden halo hovers over Him or an audible voice declares, “This is the Messiah.” No, they recognize the Son of God incarnate as a baby because they are living set apart for God, ever in His presence.

Luke records that Simeon was a righteous and devout man, who was waiting for the Comforter to come. And — we must not miss this — the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon. In a day when God had not yet sent His Spirit to live continually with His people, the Spirit’s presence wasn’t a guarantee, and yet here is Simeon in step with the Spirit. He has been told by the Spirit that he will not see death until he sees the Lord’s Christ, and it is by the nudge of the Spirit that Simeon arrives at the temple as Mary and Joseph present the Baby in accordance with long-held Jewish law. Taking the baby into his arms, Simeon declares:

“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

As Mary and Joseph marvel and Simeon blesses them, he speaks over Mary hard but beautiful words:

“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 2:34

Then, a gracious and aged prophetess named Anna approaches the young couple. We don’t know if Simeon directed her to the One who would redeem Israel, or if the Spirit nudged her forward, but we do know that she knew with certainty this was the Messiah. After long years of worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day within the temple, she knew this was the One deserving her thanks and praise, and it poured from her lips.

Simeon and Anna recognized Jesus as the One they had been waiting for because they had devoted their lives to worshipping God with their actions, their resources, their thoughts, and their words. Everything they did in life was with their eyes lifted to God.

Ponder: Would I have missed the coming of Jesus more than 2,000 years ago because my eyes weren’t lifted to God? Am I in danger of missing Him today? Am I living a life of constant worship before God? Or are my actions, my eyes, my heart distracted by the things of this world? 

Pray: Dear Jesus, on this eve of the celebration of Your birth, I confess I am so easily distracted. I may have missed Your coming all those years ago because my eyes are so prone to wander to the things of this world. I don’t want to miss You now. Forgive me for straying. May my eyes be fixed on You. May I be sensitive to the working of Your Spirit in me. Thank You for being my Redeemer, the Light of my dark world. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

Listen: Michael Card’s Now That I’ve Held Him in My Arms is here.

— Jaime Sherman