22 When the time came for their ritual cleansing, in accordance with the Law from Moses, they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. (23 It’s written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord.”) 24 They offered a sacrifice in keeping with what’s stated in the Law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
25 A man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. He eagerly anticipated the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple area. Meanwhile, Jesus’ parents brought the child to the temple so that they could do what was customary under the Law. 28 Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said,
29 “Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word,
30 because my eyes have seen your salvation.
31 You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples.
32 It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and a glory for your people Israel.”
33 His father and mother were amazed by what was said about him. 34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “This boy is assigned to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that generates opposition 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your innermost being too.”
“And a sword will pierce your innermost being too.” Such an ominous word on such a joyous occasion! Can you imagine bringing your child for baptism and having one of the elders of the church speak this word over them?
The birth of Jesus is a celebration – always and forever a celebration of God’s decision to step into life with humankind. But along with that decision came a test. Would God’s embrace be reciprocated, or rejected? When Simeon promised that Jesus would generate opposition, so that people’s true character would be revealed, he was absolutely right.
On Calvary, we failed the test.
We welcomed Jesus’ teachings, except when they challenged us to do hard things. We welcomed his leadership, except when it called out the status quo as unjust and ungodly. We welcomed his healings, except when they didn’t conform to our expectations about how and when such healings were supposed to happen.
We welcomed Jesus’ birth, but not his life. We handed him not a crown, but a cross. This Christmas, consider more deeply what it means, not only to welcome the baby Jesus, but the full-grown Son of God into your life.
P.S. – we’ll talk more about this idea in the sermon for December 22.
For Pondering & Prayer
How does Jesus’ message reveal the inner hearts of those who hear it? How does your response reveal your heart?
What are some examples of how we are still guilty of welcoming Jesus’ birth, but not his life?