“There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said: ‘Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, as You promised. For my eyes have seen Your salvation. You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples—a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.’” Luke 2:25-32
When it comes to Christmas there are many good things to think about, but the scene I love the most is Simeon. Simeon, who takes the eight-day-old infant Jesus into his arms and starts to prophecy about him, because he of all people had been promised by God to see the Messiah. Can you imagine being THAT guy?! Merry Christmas, Simeon!
Today we tend to take Jesus for granted. We obscure the majesty of His miracle with the trappings of the holiday season—cheese logs and garland, tinsel and gifts, and a hundred other holiday traditions that people get excited about. But in its simplest form Christmas is the entrance of God into the world for the sake of man. John 3:16 (not exactly a “Christmas verse”) says it best: For God so love the world… God loved you. He loved you so much that he chose to send his SON. He didn’t send a prophet or a committee. He didn’t send an angel or create a system for salvation. He sent his Son. That’s what we celebrate. And we celebrate because apart from Jesus there would be no salvation. There would be no redemption, no way to atone for the wrong things we do and say and even think in life. And Simeon knew that.
Simeon never heard the word Christmas. There were no carols, no cookies, no trees, no wreaths and ornaments and presents and holiday specials on television. There were no Christmas lights, no fruit cakes or stockings which hung by the chimney with care in the hope that Saint Nicholas soon would be there. There was just a baby. A baby that looked like every other baby that was carried into the temple by good Jewish parents on the eighth day after it was born. Not a baby with a halo. Not a baby surrounded by wise men or an entourage. Jesus didn’t glow in the dark or have a birthmark on His forehead. He was just a normal baby, born to poor, but obedient parents… the hope of all mankind, wrapped in rough cloth and about to get circumcised. But God did a minor miracle, as miracles go. He stirred Simeon’s heart to recognize what no one else could see, what no one else could possibly understand, that the baby in Mary’s arms was the Christ. So Simeon held up Jesus and praised the Lord and prophesied over an infant in amazing joy. And THAT is what we Christmas should be; holding up in our hearts and with praise on our lips the Christ-child who would teach the whole world how to live and die in our place.
So, this Christmas, celebrate like a maniac. Enjoy every moment. Soak in the lights and the decorations, taste the flavors of the candies and cookies, bask in the aroma of the candles and trees and rejoice in the shared traditions of the season. But above all else, do these things to honor Him. Do these things with the conscious thought and outspoken praise of God for the Gift. Merry Christmas!