Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Window of Witness: Simeon & Anna, Do you wait well?

Have you ever been a witness to something you knew was important? Have you seen something maybe you weren't supposed to see? Something bad? Uh oh, I better call the police. Or, have you witnessed something beautiful? A "God moment" you might say? Yes, God is in this. 

But better yet, have you been a participant? Did you witness it because you were part of it? Now that's something special. Or something terrible, depending on the situation. 

We know there were several witnesses to the birth of Jesus. So we know a fair amount about it. 

We know a lot about his birth, and the shepherds, the wise men, and so on and so forth. But today we’re talking about a week after Jesus’ birth, when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple. Essentially Mary and Joseph were going about a tradition Jewish practice of presenting their first born son to the Lord. They arrive there with the baby Jesus, and they encounter two people who would be forever changed and encouraged by Jesus. 

There were two people that saw the baby Jesus in the temple, on the day he was set apart for service to God. Their names were Simeon and Anna. It says the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon, and the spirit brought him to the temple that day for the purpose of encountering Jesus. You ever go somewhere and know within that it’s a divine appointment? I’ve had that a lot in the past few years. I felt the Spirit drawing me to Chicago, to the training college. But I had to wait patiently on God.

It says in Luke chapter 2, “25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout, waiting for God to comfort Israel, and the holy spirit was upon him. 26 He had been told by the holy spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Led by the spirit, he came into the Temple. As Jesus’ parents brought him in, to do for him what the law’s regulations required, 28 he took the baby in his arms”

Simeon had waited his entire life. It says he lived a righteous and devout life. Is that easy? No it’s not. Now he was an old man. But the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that before he died, he would see the savior. And when Simeon saw Jesus, he took Jesus in his arms and proclaimed: “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.”

Glory for Israel, and a light to the whole Earth. Simeon waited for hope, waited for change, and now he finally saw it.

Jesus would be the savior of Israel, yes, but he would also be the savior for the whole world. Even us, today.

Have you been waiting for a long time? Many of us are waiting. And one day the waiting ends, and we receive what we’d hoped for. The same happened for Simeon. Who knows how long he’d been waiting? But one day, the day came, at the temple, at church, when the day came when he saw his salvation come. The answer is out there. Wait patiently.

Next, there is a woman who is described as very old, her name is Anna. It says that she got married at the traditional time, which would’ve been between the ages of 12 and 16 in Jewish culture, and that seven years later her husband died, and she had been a widow since then, to now the age of 84. It says she constantly fasted and prayed. She was a godly woman. She wasn’t waiting in sin, she was waiting in godliness, praying and fasting regularly. It says “she never left the temple, but worshiped God night and day.” Amazing. She had lost her husband at a very young age. She had waited all her life. But she didn’t wait in bitterness or regret. She waited in daily worship.

It says, “Luke 2: 36 There was also a prophetess called Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having been widowed after a seven-year marriage, and was now eighty-four. She never left the Temple, but worshipped with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 She came up at that moment and gave thanks to God, and spoke about Jesus to everyone who was waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

If you are waiting today, in what form are you waiting? Bitterness and resentment? Or in praying and fasting, and praising God, and living a godly life? This is tough, I know, it’s tough to not get discouraged.

But it’s part of our training as Christians, and it’s like the Israelites, as they walked with Moses in the wilderness. They grumbled and complained and rebelled against God in their waiting. What will we do in our waiting? One day the waiting will end. That’s if we remain faithful. But if we rebel against God and go our own way, then that day may never come.

But for Anna, like Simeon, Finally, the day came, and it says Anna came up to Joseph and Mary, and she gave thanks to God. And it says she started speaking to everyone around who was waiting for the redemption of Israel. She was a prophet after all, anyone know a lady like that? I’ve met a few. And they gotta tell everybody!

So God had come into human history. Even at only one week old, Simeon and Anna were blessed to recognize that Jesus was the promised savior. They waited faithfully, and God showed himself to them.

God hadn’t come as most might’ve expected at the time. He came humbly, quietly, as if he were a secret agent, smuggled into his own kingdom. There were attempts on his life, even as a baby. He was nearly murdered by the purge ordered by Herod. Yet God’s plan could not be thwarted by the will of men.

No massive armies of thousands marched with Jesus, but instead a Holy Spirit was upon Jesus, conquering quietly through his words and deeds. Jesus through the word of God began a conquest of human hearts and souls that would spread itself across the whole world, today proclaimed in every nation on the Earth, in thousands of different languages, and it all began with God coming into human history, born as a baby, to young parents, in the deserts of the middle east. God always tends to surprise us with how he does things.

So in conclusion, Jesus came as a baby two thousand years ago. He did his work, and completed it. Then he ascended to heaven. Today we know that Jesus Christ is coming back one day soon, to set up his kingdom on Earth. And many of us may be expecting for our savior to come again as a meek and mild servant, but the book of Revelation tells us that Jesus Christ will come in great glory, and every eye will see Him. And he will judge all the nations, and smash them to pieces like pottery, as he sets up his new kingdom. This is why we must be ready, waiting patiently, day in and day out, year by year, faithfully serving God, forgiving others, and loving our neighbors. We are in this for the long haul, all the way to death and eternal life.

Just like Simeon and Anna waited for the birth of their savior Jesus, we also wait patiently for the return of Jesus to Earth. Is that just a pipe dream? No. It’s not. It’s real. It’s true. Jesus Christ is alive, and He will return. It says in Revelation chapter 19: 11-16: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the wine-press of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.”

Jesus came as a baby.

Jesus lived a perfect, holy life.

Jesus was crucified as a substitution, as payment for our own sins.

Jesus resurrected from the dead after three days.

Jesus showed himself to be alive to many witnesses.

Jesus ascended to heaven promising to return.

And Jesus will return in power and glory, to reign over the whole Earth, and judge the nations.

Therefore, let us be ready. Let us wait patiently, just as Simeon and Anna did, their whole lives. We will see God face to face one day, just as they did in the temple. Bet your life on it.

Let it be said of us, that we ran the race, and finished it. Let it be said to each of us one day: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”