December 16: Immediate Joy!
December 16, 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 2:36-38:
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.As if the drama of the moment, Jesus’ first visit to the temple, had not yet been sufficiently heightened by the extraordinary announcement of the godly Simeon, now there is another shining encounter. Anna, a prophet, who is very old, and has been widowed for many years (we assume), only having been married for seven years before her husband died. She was now eighty-four years old, an advanced age by any culture’s reckoning, and comes also to see the family. She was always in the temple, giving herself over to worship, all the time, fasting and praying. Anna was one of the great godly, devoted examples of piety that adorned the temple in those days. “At that very moment,” while the words of Simeon were still ringing in their ears and the ears of everyone else who would have heard them, Anna comes up to them too and publicly “gave thanks to God.” She praises God for this extraordinary, supernatural child, moved to adulation and worship at that very moment in sheer joy at the sight of the Christ child. She also “spoke about the child.” She begins a mini-lecture or instruction, using the child as the perfect visual aid, to explain the real hope for Jerusalem, the “redemption of Jerusalem,” to all those who were hoping for a restoration of the glory days, and the coming of the Messiah. She praises God, and she speaks of what this child means for the plan of God to redeem his people. Once again, we cannot help but wonder at the mental state of Mary or Joseph at this “moment,” spoken to by Simeon, and now by Anna, when they had turned up at the temple to do their religious duty by their firstborn. They must have been excited, terrified, surprised, scared, rejoicing, praising – all at once! But the account passes over the reactions of Mary and Joseph in this place with little notice. All attention is on Simeon, and now on Anna, and what they are doing and what it means. We are meant to be caught up in the response of Simeon and Anna. We are meant to see this child in our temple courts, and like Anna “at that very moment” give praise to God and speak of what this child means for the redemption of all who believe. Would you, this Christmas, respond like Anna with praise and proclamation? Would you consciously, deliberately, right now, praise God for Jesus and the birth of the Christ child for his people’s redemption? Perhaps sing a much-beloved carol (“O Holy Night,” for instance). Take a moment now, this very moment, to praise God for Jesus. And with that praise on your lips, look around at those who are longing for redemption –for their country, their church, their family –and speak of how it is that the gospel of Jesus can be the hope for all nations and the redemption of all who believe.
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! O night divine, the night when Christ was born; O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
“O Holy Night,” 1847]]>
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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