As we journey through the Advent season, let us reflect on why Jesus came down from heaven to live and move among us. Matthew 1:21 says, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Yeshua, because he will save his people from their sins.” Yeshua is Hebrew for “the Lord shall save,” and can be interpreted to refer to the atoning work of Jesus at the cross. He came here to save us! Iesous is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua, and its English spelling is “Jesus,” the name we find in our English Bibles. As his name reflects, the birth of Jesus is part of God’s plan to save us from our sins, so that we may have eternal life with Him.
God gave Jesus his name and, by doing so, announced to the world that He had provided a Savior for us, a way out of the predicament that we all find ourselves in. Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God gave us the greatest gift of all on Christmas morning, in the humblest of surroundings: a manger. He sent His Son Jesus into the world to save us from the consequences of our sin, and Jesus willingly went. What kind of love drives that? What kind of love leaves the glories of heaven to be born in a stable and to walk upon a broken world and call it his home? Only an incomprehensible, unconditional, passionate love could do that. That was the love that was born on Christmas day!
Reflection: Think of all of the gifts you have received in the past. Many of them came to you in beautifully wrapped packages, or with some type of fanfare. Now imagine being handed a brown cardboard box. Don’t let its plain appearance fool you. You can’t tell a gift by its wrapping. Open it slowly and peer inside. See in your mind’s eye a baby, born in a lowly manger, God’s gift of eternal life to you, in Christ Jesus, accessible to everyone. The packaging isn’t auspicious, but the contents are precious beyond measure!
I posted this recently on Facebook: My heart is so happy – I’ve been dreaming of having this picture hanging in our home for years and today it happened! He came for ALL of us! Every time I look at it, I feel incredible joy.
A good friend of mine asked me what this picture represents. The title given this picture by the artist Ron DiCianni is Simeon’s Moment, but it is a moment that we can all share in. Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord and Simeon is holding the baby Jesus.
When I look upon Simeon’s face, I can see the inexpressible joy that he is feeling. God gave Simeon a very special gift which we can find in the Bible in the second chapter of Luke. Verse 26 tells us, “It had been revealed to him [Simeon] by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.” What must it have been like to live a long full life and enter into old age while clinging to that hope! I can only imagine the incredible delight Simeon must have felt as he held in his arms the salvation of the world.
After living a long and faithful life, Simeon’s Moment represents the culmination of the promise that God has given to Simeon and to all of us: a way out of the desperate condition that we all share, a way out of our sins, so that we can be in fellowship with Him and have eternal life. Matthew 1:21 tells us, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins.” Simeon holds our salvation in his arms – the light of the world come down from the heavens in the form of a helpless baby, because He knew we were all in need of a Savior. Simeon’s words (Luke 2:29-32) states it so well:
“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.”
But it’s not only the ecstasy on Simeon’s face that I can relate to, in which God’s promise for the redemption of humanity is being held in Simeon’s arms. I also love how the artist echoes Simeon’s words and created a global presence interwoven into the fabric of the picture, which shows that Jesus is not only for Simeon, but that He came for the entire world. It fills my heart with joy to see the expression of the Gospel in Simeon’s arms. Love has not come for just one people, but for all peoples, so that we all may be saved. Hallelujah!
Finally, the tear that Simeon sheds is subject to interpretation. Perhaps it is a pure expression of the emotion he is feeling. Perhaps it is a response to what he knew was coming – this man of God who surely studied the Hebrew Scriptures all of his life and understood the prophecies that were to be fulfilled glimpsed the future – that this precious baby that he held in his arms would one day carry the weight of the world’s sins upon His shoulders and the price of love would cost Him everything. Simeon’s words to the baby’s mother, Mary, in Luke 2:34-35 testify to this:
“This child [Jesus] is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
What must it feel like to hold your salvation in your arms? We may not be able to experience it the same way Simeon did, but we can surely experience it for ourselves – and if you choose to ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior and follow Him, I believe you will feel what Simeon feels. If you want to learn more about the babe in Simeon’s arms, the Book of John in the Bible is a great place to start. You may also want to consider reading about Jesus in this easy-to-read devotional that I wrote which celebrates His coming from heaven to be born in a manger on Christmas day, Taking Back Advent Moving from the Mundane to the Miraculous.