Luke 2:22-40 December 31, 2017
Babies are special. Something happens when we meet a baby. Even though we don’t know them we feel the need to play, to interact with the baby. How many times have you played peekaboo with a child at the next table in a restaurant or in line at the grocery store? How many times have you stopped the mother or father to tell them how beautiful their little one is? Babies are special because they seem to bring out the love in all of us.
As special as all babies are, the babies brought to be redeemed at the temple in Jerusalem were even more special. God declared that all first born sons were not only special, they were holy. But Jesus was even more special. Simeon had seen hundreds, maybe even thousands of babies presented in the temple. You can be sure that he had talked to all of the parents and to each baby. He was seeking the answer to God’s promise that he would not die until he had seen the savior of the world. He greeted each child hoping this was the one.
I suppose that he was becoming weary of waiting when Mary, Joseph, and Jesus entered the temple. But his weariness faded when he heard the Holy Spirit tell him, “This baby is the one you’ve been waiting for!” In response, he did something that would get us in trouble today. He took Jesus from his mother’s arms and started talking and praising. He spoke not to Mary and Joseph, or even to Jesus. He began praising God for the answer to His promise. Only when he was done thanking God did he turn to Mary and Joseph and explain to them that their son was the savior and the judge of the world. Of course he also had a warning that a sword would pierce Mary’s heart as well.
Anna was also waiting for the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Messiah. As a prophet, she was inspired by the Holy Spirit to be the first to proclaim in public that this child of Mary’s was the promised savior. (This should be a lesson to those who say women should not preach).
It wasn’t a coincidence that the truth of Jesus’s identity was proclaimed by these two humble servants of the Lord. For both of them, the truth came from the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Think about that for a minute. The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth and made John the Baptist leap in her womb, recognizing Christ for the first time. The Holy Spirit sent the angels to the shepherds who came to Bethlehem to meet the baby Jesus. The Holy Spirit revealed Jesus to Simeon and Anna. It was the Holy Spirit who revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Messiah.
We read about Jesus in the Bible, but it is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that we can truly know Jesus as our personal savior and the savior of the world. So how do we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives? We should imitate Simeon and Anna by constantly worshipping through prayer, study, fasting, and praising God. In United Methodist language we practice these and other Means of Grace. We order our lives according to the three General Rules; Do no harm, Do good, and Attend to the ordinances of God. Happy New Year!