Why did Jesus come to earth?
Most of God’s chosen people, the Israelites, didn’t get it. They simply didn’t understand the purpose of God’s hero that he sent to earth. Back in the Bible days they called this hero the Messiah or the Christ. But they thought that their Messiah would destroy all of their enemies like the Romans who were ruling over them in many very mean ways. Or they thought that their Messiah would teach them how to be even better at obeying God’s laws.
No matter which one they thought was going to be their Messiah they were wrong.
But not everyone got it wrong. A man named Simeon got it right. Simeon’s story is found in Luke’s gospel after the story of Jesus’ birth. When Jesus was just eight days old Mary and Joseph brought him to the temple in Jerusalem to have him dedicated to God, and it is there that they met Simeon:
Luke 2: 25-32. 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Simeon got it right.
When everyone else thought the Messiah would destroy their enemies and teach them the law, Simeon knew that the Messiah (the baby Jesus) would destroy the law and teach them to love their enemies.
Simeon called baby Jesus a “light for the Gentiles.” Do you know what a Gentile is? It’s anyone who is not a Jew. Like the mean Romans.
You mean, Simeon, that God wants to save the Romans? Yes, God wants to save everyone.
And then a little bit later Simeon said these words to Mary:
Luke 2:34-35. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed…so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Jesus the Messiah won’t just teach us how to behave. He will show us what is deep in our hearts too. And what is deep in our hearts? That’s right, it’s sin. And when sin is exposed we realize that we could never keep God’s law and that we need a savior to do it for us in our place.
Simeon got it.
Do you get it?
What do you think the birth of Jesus is about? Learning to be kind? Maybe. Having all our problems solved? Sort of. Getting lots of presents. Nope. Christmas is about worshiping our Messiah Jesus who will defeat the requirements of God’s law for us and then teach us how to love and share his good news with everyone. Yes, everyone.
Because of Jesus we have seen the light of God’s salvation.
With Jesus we can be a light of his good news to everyone.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Here’s a great little review of Simeon and Anna from Luke 2.
You came to save us all and to teach us to love everyone. Help me to make that the true meaning of Christmas this year.
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