What are you waiting for?!

What are you waiting for?!

INTRODUCTION:

Children have a hard time waiting for Christmas. Here are some actual letters that were written to Father Christmas or Santa Claus as he is also known:

Dear Santa Claus,
When you come to my house there will be cookies for you.

But if you are real hungry you can use our phone and order a pizza.
Dear Santa, (From a 4-year-old)
I’ll take anything because I haven’t been that good.

Let me ask you some questions.

What are you waiting for this Christmas? Are you longing for anything? What are you expecting to receive? Are you looking forward to anything special this Christmas?

In the Gospel of Luke, we come across two characters that make their appearance

in the final acts of the Christmas drama. One is a man named Simeon; the other is

a woman named Anna. They don’t appear in any nativity scenes or in many Christmas cards, but they are significant players in the first Christmas pageant. Both of these individuals were waiting for something – actually, they were waiting for someone.

 

SCRIPTURE READING:

Luke 2:25-38 MSG

(25)  In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man

who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him.

(26)  The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died.

(27)  Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple.

As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law,

(28)  Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God:

(29)  God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised.

(30)  With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation;

(31)  it’s now out in the open for everyone to see:

(32)  A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel.

(33)  Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words.

(34)  Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother, This child marks both

the failure and the recovery of many in Israel, A figure misunderstood and contradicted

(35)  the pain of a sword-thrust through you- But the rejection will force honesty,

as God reveals who they really are.

(36)  Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years

(37)  and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area,

worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers.

(38)  At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly

for the freeing of Jerusalem.

 

TEXT:

Luke 2:25 NLT:

At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon.

He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come

and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him

 

Lukas 2:25 AOV:

En daar was ‘n man in Jerusalem met die naam van Símeon; en hierdie man was regverdig en vroom en het die vertroosting van Israel verwag, en die Heilige Gees was op hom.

 

WAITING WITH EXPECTATION:

Luke uses a Greek word of anticipation that identifies them as waiting with expectation for the coming of the Messiah, or Saviour. It literally means that they were “alert to His appearance, and ready to welcome Him.” We see this word in Luke 2:25 in reference to Simeon where we read that “He was waiting…” and in verse: 38 to describe a woman named Anna who was, “…looking forward to…

Things weren’t going real well for the nation of Israel. They hadn’t heard from God for many years and were under Roman rule. They had lost their political independence and were living in fear of the capable, crafty, and cruel King Herod, and many were wondering if the Messiah would ever come.

We see that Simeon had good reason for his hope and anticipation.

 

Luke 2:26 NIV:

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit

that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

 

WAITING FOR COMFORT:

Simeon’s expectation focused on the comfort that Christ would bring.

Among Jews of Simeon’s day one of the popular titles of Messiah was Comforter.

The desire to be comforted is a universal human need. We all struggle with loneliness, emptiness, insecurity, fear, even desperation. The Christmas season is one of the major crisis times of the year for depression and suicide.

The Holy Spirit prompted Simeon to go to the temple courts at just the right time

on just the right day that Joseph and Mary were bringing their infant to the Temple.

When Simeon looked at the baby Jesus, now about 6 weeks old,

he knew that God’s promise had been kept.

Here was Immanuel, “God with Us,” to make everything right, to provide significance

by His presence, and to eliminate rejection, fear, and loneliness. 

 

Luke 2:28 says that Simeon reached down and took Jesus out of Mary’s arms and began to praise God. As he broke out into praise, he acknowledged that God had not only fulfilled the individual promise to him, but also the promises of the prophets to send the Anointed One to comfort both Jews and Gentiles.

 

Is it not the most wonderful reason to thank and praise God for? God fulfilled His promise; He gave Jesus His Son to destroy loneliness, emptiness, insecurity, fear, and desperation. And to comfort you!

 

WAITING FOR FORGIVENESS:

The other Christmas Character waiting with anticipation was Anna.

After her husband had died, she had dedicated herself to fasting and praying in the temple. In fact, the Bible says that she never left the temple  but worshipped day and night.

She was looking forward to the same person as Simeon was, but with

a different orientation. Instead of looking for comfort, Anna was looking for forgiveness.

 

Luke 2:38 AB

And she too came up at that same hour, and she returned thanks to God and talked of [Jesus] to all who were looking for the redemption (deliverance) of Jerusalem.

 

The word redemption is related to the idea of captivity.

The Old Testament Passover and the release of Israel from Egyptian slavery stood in Anna’s day as the ultimate redemption and the symbol of God’s power to release captives. Ultimately, Passover pointed ahead to that day when

God would provide deliverance from the slavery of sin.

When Anna saw Jesus, she gave thanks to God and spoke of Him to all who were waiting for redemption. Here, at last, was the One who would save His people from their sins. Anna was thankful. She gave thanks to God! Are you thankful today for what Jesus did for you? Is He not the most awesome gift of all times?

  

JESUS – OUR PROVIDER:

Jesus Provides What We Need. When Jesus came, He provided the very things that Simeon and Anna were waiting for: God’s comfort and His forgiveness.

 Let me ask you the question again:

What are you waiting for this Christmas? Whatever it is, Jesus can give it to you.

Can any of you identify with Simeon today? Some of you are really hurting right now.

You feel lonely, empty, afraid, and stressed out. Do you need some comfort?

Some consoling? Do you need a fresh sense of God’s presence?

If so, you can find what you’re looking for in Jesus.

He came to console us right where we’re at.

Or, do you identify more with Anna? Are you plagued with guilt this Christmas,

because of something you’ve done or the way you’ve been living?

Do you feel like you’re trapped in a pattern of sin that you can’t break out of?

If you need forgiveness, Jesus can give it to you today, now!

I can think of no better time than this Christmas season to sort that out for once and for all!

 

ACTION STEPS:

There are three action steps from this passage that will help you and me experience God’s comfort and forgiveness this Christmas.

  1. Become a marveler:
    Become a marveler. When Joseph and Mary tried to process everything that was happening, verse 33says that they marveled at what was said about Jesus. According to the dictionary, to become a marveler is to be filled with wonder, astonishment, and surprise.

Are you a marveler this Christmas? Or, are you too caught up in the business

and stress of the season? Have you been running around because of the Holidays, or are you taking the time to make Christmas a “holy” day?

Has Christmas become too predictable, too familiar?

Have you heard the real Christmas story so much that it no longer astonishes you?

Here’s an idea that may help you recapture the marvel of Christmas. Pick one of the Christmas characters and put yourself in their sandals. Imagine what it must have been like to witness the Christmas story first hand.

Pick one – Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, Simeon, Anna, or the Wise Men.

 

  1. Become a mover:

Luke 2:27 NIV:

Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts…

Now let’s go down to verse 38:

Luke 2:38 NKJV:

And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord…

Both Simeon and Anna were movers.

When the Holy Spirit prompted them to move, they didn’t sit still.

What would have happened if they had not responded?

Actually, every one of the Christmas characters responded to the Spirit’s leading

with the exception of Herod:

Mary was ready to move when she said to the angel,

“May it be to me as you have said” (Luk 1:38)
Joseph demonstrated that he was a mover when he woke up from his dream and “…did what the angel of the Lord had commanded and took Mary home as his wife” (Mat 1:24).  The Shepherds were movers as well when they said,

“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened…” (Luk 2:15)

And the wise men saw the star and moved out of their comfort zone

to find the King of Christmas (Mat 2:1-2)

When God prompts you to do something, then you need to do it.

It might mean salvation for some. It might mean full surrender for others.

Or, maybe the Holy Spirit wants you to be more involved in serving people.

Do you sense Him asking you to do something today? Are you a mover?

Are you willing to move? Don’t procrastinate when God prompts you to do something.  You can’t stay neutral about Jesus.

You are either for Him or against Him.

You’re moving closer to Him, or further away. You either have the Son or you don’t.

 

  1. Become a messenger

    As we work at becoming marvelers, we can’t help but become movers.

That leads us to the final action step from this passage — become a messenger.

 

Luke 2:38 AB

And she too came up at that same hour, and she returned thanks to God and talked of [Jesus] to all who were looking for the redemption (deliverance) of Jerusalem.

Do you have family and friends who’ve been caught up in preparations for Christmas? Maybe their anticipation and longings really represent an inner search

for comfort and forgiveness – those things that only Jesus can provide.

God wants each one of us to become messengers of the real Christmas story!

 

CONCLUSION:

As you and I become marvelers, the wonder of Christmas will astonish us.

Then, as we become movers, our needs for comfort and forgiveness will be met.

And, as we take our role as messengers seriously, we’ll be in position to introduce others

to the Christ of Christmas – so that they in turn can find what they have been waiting for.

Christmas is a marvelous, moving, message!

How can we not find what we’ve been looking for?

And, how can we keep quiet about it? Once you have the Son, you have everything.
How can we not say thank you to God? How can we not have appreciation in our hearts?

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? You don’t have to wait for Christmas!

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