Summary: It’s obvious why kids look forward to Christmas. But today we’re going to look at two people who were looking forward in eager anticipation for a much different reason.
INTRODUCTION: Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait until Christmas arrived? When my brother and I were young, my Mom would have this Christmas calendar with cotton balls stuck to each of the squares. Each day we took turns taking a cotton ball off. We were excited to do so knowing that each one we took off meant we were one more day closer to Christmas. The anticipation of walking into the living room Christmas morning and wondering what you were going to find. It was exciting because my parents would leave certain things wrapped but the cool toys they always put together and set up. We would walk in and be thrilled with that first glimpse. It’s obvious why kids look forward to Christmas. But today we’re going to look at two people who were looking forward in eager anticipation for a much different reason.
1) Simeon (vs. 25-35): Vs. 25, “Waiting for the consolation of Israel…” Simeon was waiting in eager anticipation. It had been nearly 400 years since the last prophet was in Israel. The Jews hadn’t heard the voice of God for several generations and I’m sure many were wondering if the deliver that God had promised them would ever arrive. Another word for consolation is comfort. Simeon was waiting for the comfort that the birth of Jesus would bring to him and his people. That’s what Jesus brings. How about you? Would you like some comfort, some relief, some support? Jesus is our consolation. Perhaps you’ve been grieved for a long time and you’ve been waiting like Simeon. Maybe you’re wondering if that comfort will ever come. What you’re waiting for is found in Jesus. Some Scholars believe that Simeon was 113 years old when he saw the baby Jesus. Perhaps there were times when Simeon himself may have wondered if God was going to fulfill his promise to him that he wouldn’t die before seeing the Messiah. But Simeon was a devout man who hadn’t given up on God fulfilling his promise. So when that promise materialized in the baby Jesus Simeon was overjoyed (vs.28-32). Vs. 33-35. That’s not really a joyful Christmas greeting, is it? But here’s the truth: since Jesus has entered the world, He has divided the human race. Jesus will cause the falling and rising of many. Because of who Jesus is and what He came to do, He forces people to make a decision about Him. Jesus is either a rock that you build your life upon (that’s the sense of rising) or he’s the rock that you stumble over (that’s the meaning of falling). Simeon realized that when he saw Jesus he had seen the savior. He got what he was waiting for.
2) Anna (vs. 36-38): Anna was a prophetess. There aren’t very many recorded prophetesses in scripture so Anna was a special woman. Her name means ‘grace’. She was from the tribe of Asher which means, ‘happy’ or ‘blessed’. We also know that Anna was a widow. She lost her husband seven years into her marriage. She had experienced the pain and devastation of losing her husband. And it was undoubtedly something dramatic that happened to him since he was probably relatively young. So chances are it was a sudden loss. It doesn’t speak of her having any children so one might conclude that Anna was left alone; no husband, no children. Being a widow was devastating enough but being a widow in those days was even more trying. The only support Anna would’ve received was from the kindness of strangers. Therefore, if you were to go by this, you might think that she was anything but happy and blessed. This type of situation might have caused many a widow to move away from God. Instead, she moved closer to him. She moved into the temple. The temple grounds had various rooms where one could live. She not only moved in; she never left! She spent all her time there serving God. God became her husband. She became totally devoted to Him. We minister to many single people here at Cornerstone. Is your time spent looking for and wishing for that special someone to come into your life? Is this your priority? Anna probably could’ve gotten remarried. And no one would’ve blamed her if she had. But she made a different choice. She chose to fully devote herself to God. No one should blame you for hoping to find a godly husband or wife. But what if that’s not God’s will for you? If God’s will for you is to serve him single would you be content with that? Anna lived and served many years at the temple. I don’t think God would’ve chosen someone who was miserable to be a prophetess. Anna embraced God’s will for her as a widow and despite her circumstances, found plenty of reasons to call herself happy and blessed. She was able to see Jesus. She gave thanks. She knew the source of joy was God. What is our source of joy? Is this a joyous time of year because of parties and presents or is our source of joy the same as Anna’s-Jesus? And she didn’t keep that joy to herself. She went around telling others about the redemption and the redeemer. What about us? If you’ve experienced the joy of redemption do you joyfully tell others about it? What greater joy could there be? What greater word could there be but redemption? To be saved, to be delivered, to be rescued, to be released. The freedom, the liberation, the emancipation; the joy. Anna was looking forward to seeing her redeemer and now she had found what she had been waiting for.