Summary: A Christmas sermon looking at Simeon and Anna and how they waited for the promise of God with great anticipation and expectation.
Waiting For Christmas
Last week we looked at four major players in the birth of Jesus. Today I’d like to look at two more who, while they were not present at Jesus’ birth, waited with great anticipation and expectation for the day to arrive.
None of us are very good at waiting. We don’t like to wait. I remember when it took several minutes to turn on and load the very first IBM personal computer, and we thought that was fast. We marveled at the speed. Now if it takes more than 10 seconds we’re pounding the keyboard and complaining about waiting too long.
It's hard to wait, isn't it? And it's especially hard to wait for God
I’ve come to realize that while we’re always in a hurry, God isn’t. We want things to happen now if not sooner. God, however, seems to take His time. Some people say, “I've waited long enough for God, and I don't see anything good coming out of all this waiting!”
Some are waiting to see if chemotherapy or radiation will work. Some are waiting on news that will dramatically impact their future. Some are waiting on job applications. Some are waiting for prayers to be answered; at least in the way they think God should answer them.
And while all this waiting is difficult, what we need to realize is that God is working out His perfect will through the waiting process.
Take for instance the miracle of birth. There's nothing quite like waiting for the arrival of a baby. But even while the expectant mother waits, God is at work forming and shaping that baby’s life inside her womb.
Conception is the promise. Delivery and birth are the fulfillment of that promise. But between promise and fulfillment, there are months of waiting, expecting, along with months of discomfort, uncertainty, and even anxiety. Waiting is hard, and frankly most of us aren't very good at it.
We do a lot of waiting this time of year. Waiting at checkout lines. Waiting to find a closer parking spot. Waiting for Christmas bonuses. And the young ones can hardly wait for Christmas to come!
Before I go any further, let me ask some questions. What are you waiting for this Christmas? What are you expecting to receive? Are you looking forward to anything special this Christmas?
In Luke’s Gospel we come across two people who make their appearance in the final act 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 for that matter, but they’re significant players.
Both of these individuals were waiting with great anticipation and expectation that they would see the coming Messiah. But the promise and the fulfillment were far apart, and so they waited, looking forward to God’s promise redemption.
And while they were both waiting for the Messiah, they were both waiting for a different aspect of His coming.
Simeon: Waiting for Comfort
“There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” (Luke 2:25 NKJV)
Why was he waiting? Because the Holy Spirit promised that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. And so, Simeon was comforted waiting for the Comforter.
Now I know some of you may be questioning my use of this name, Comforter, because Jesus clearly called the Holy Spirit the Comforter. But, listen to what Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” (John 14:6 NKJV)
The word, “another,” in the Greek language means another of the same kind. Jesus is describing Himself as the Comforter, and after He leaves He is asking the Father to send another Comforter who will comfort the same way He comforted. And that Comforter is the Holy Spirit.
At this time things weren’t going so well for the nation of Israel. They hadn’t heard from God for over 400 years, and were subjected to the rule and reign of the Roman Empire. Simeon, therefore, was waiting for the consolation of Israel, which we could translate as Israel’s comfort.
Simeon’s expectation focused on the comfort that Christ, the Messiah, would bring.
The desire to be comforted is a universal need. We all struggle with loneliness, emptiness, and insecurity. In fact, the Christmas season is one of the major crisis times of the year for depression and suicide. It is the leading contributor to stress and anxiety.
As Simeon was thus waiting, he was moved by the Holy Spirit to go into the temple courts at the time when Joseph and Mary were bringing Jesus to offer up the necessary sacrifice under the law for the birth of a firstborn male child, Leviticus 12:2-8.