December 14: Mature Joy!
December 14, 2015
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
by Josh Moody Each year our family has a tradition of opening one Advent Bible reading starting on December 1 and finishing on Christmas Day, December 25. This year I am sharing those Bible readings with some thoughts based on them for use as a devotional during this season. To receive these Advent readings directly in your inbox, sign up here. Luke 2:25-32:
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “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: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”Speaking personally, Simeon is one of my favorite characters in these early nativity stories! I can see him now, hoary headed, white haired, shuffling faithfully in the temple courts, filled with the Holy Spirit to the last drop of his personality. I have known men like him, old (we assume Simeon was aged because the text tells us he had been waiting, we assume for a long time, and that after seeing Jesus he is ready to die), yet while old, also renewed day by day with the power of the Holy Spirit. There is an evident godliness to such men and women. It is not fanciful to suggest that it would be obvious that Simeon was one of those godly people who everyone knew the “Holy Spirit was on him.” They carry an air to them, a presence, and to be with them immediately raises your own game spiritually, in the same way that when Michael Jordan walks on the basketball court you’d better do your very best. And so “moved by the Spirit” – by what operation Luke, often in his Gospel emphasizing the work of the Spirit, does not tell us – Simeon goes into the temple courts. Something in him harmonized with the presence of the Christ, and immediately he took him in his arms and praised God! What an extraordinary thing it must have been to be the parents of such a child. When you go to church the most eminently godly man, respected above all others, rushes over as fast as his wobbly legs will carry him, asks to hold the child, and loudly and spontaneously, in front of everyone, praises God for your child! That was an event to remember, and record as Luke does for us his readers. Simeon’s words are deep with meaning. Jesus is the Messiah, that much is plain. Everything now is at peace with Simeon, for he has seen the Messiah with his own shadowy aged eyes. But what does it mean to be the Messiah? Simeon tells us. He is “salvation,” and not salvation only for Israel, but for “all nations”: “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” What could be better than to have been present at such moment when the glory of Israel was revealed to Simeon, the saintliest man for generations, filled with the Spirit, prophetically uttering the call of God to all nations through Jesus the Messiah King. Luke tells us this story as another way of showing us that the godly of Israel recognized the person of Jesus. It was not just the shepherds, not just the angels, but the godliest elder saint that anyone could ever imagine. This Christmas, then, would you, as another year passes by, and whether you are young or old, make a fresh resolution to ensure that more maturity, and greater years, means increased devotion to the Christ King? Sometimes we think that devotion, enthusiasm, energy, spontaneity, emotion for God is something that is okay when you are young, but as you get older should be replaced by more detached commitment. Let Simeon show you otherwise this Christmas. Let his example, this man on whom was the Holy Spirit, and who embraced the baby Jesus with evident passion, as well as reason, and Scriptural insight, lead us all, young and old, to grow up by growing into more and more praise of the “glory of Israel”!
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
Book of Common Prayer 1662]]>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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