Patiently Waiting for Jesus
Greetings everyone, Merry Christmas to you all. Last week we determined that Jesus is coming. Jesus IS coming. Do you believe this?
Every year, about this time, a couple of different neighbors of mine put out their large, lighted, plastic figurine nativity sets. You’ve seen these, they are a little dated, kind of old-fashioned, I guess you’d say now, but sweet and very nostalgic for my family. They are accurate, meaning this, they do not put out the baby Jesus into the lighted nativity set UNTIL Christmas Eve day.
So when Emma was little, and we all know how excited and impatient young children are for Christmas, when Emma was little, whenever we’d drive by these nativity sets, I’d egg her on a little, asking her “if baby Jesus is in the nativity yet”?
Meaning, that’s how we’d know it was Christmas time. I’d say something else like, “Oh, I’m sorry, it’s not Christmas yet”. Then, we would have to do the real math of how many actual days until Christmas. Kids are so impatient when it comes to Christmas, aren’t they?
Well, some of us adults are not much better. Today, I want us to look at a man who was very patient in waiting for Jesus’ arrival. So good at being patient, that we can all learn from him. But first, let me make a point that I’ve been led to emphasize.
Naturally, when referencing Jesus’ birth, we are referencing his first advent. This has already occurred, over two thousand years ago. But Jesus has a second advent. A second coming that much of the world either ignores or has forgotten about. The miracles, the details, and the prophecy involved in Jesus’ first advent prove to me, without a shadow of a doubt, the truth in, the validity in the absolute reality that Jesus Christ is coming again. Jesus will return. Jesus is coming.
So as we wait for Christmas to come this year, we are also waiting for Jesus to come again. The truth of the past reinforces the truth of the future. My prayer for today is that you believe this also.
So, this lesson for us in patience is not just until we open presents this year. We must have patience for Jesus to return again at just the right time.
If we have ever had to wait on the Lord for something, we can empathize with others of how difficult waiting can be. As a younger man, for me, I had absolutely no patience. Through the course of time, as I aged, I learned patience, because God’s Spirit always seemed to be teaching me patience. Let’s go to our scripture today, we’ll be looking at a man named Simeon. We are moving ahead timewise in reference to last week’s message, to about a week after Jesus’ birth. We’ll begin with Luke 2:21-24,
“On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons.’”
So Joseph and Mary are heading to the temple to follow the traditional Jewish customs regarding the Law of the Lord. This will allow them to cross paths with Simeon. Luke 2:25-26,
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”
Simeon was looking for the consolation of Israel. Which is a reference to something that Isaiah had said hundreds of years earlier, in Isaiah 40:1-2,
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
So Simeon is waiting for this consolation of Israel that was mentioned by Isaiah, over six hundred years earlier. This is a reality check for our patience today, is it not?
We struggle with waiting a year, or a couple of years, for the Lord. Simeon and his predecessors have been waiting hundreds of years, centuries, generation upon generation for this consolation of Israel, whom we naturally recognize to be Jesus. Jesus is the one to comfort Israel after the exile to Babylon.
Simeon did not come up with this idea himself. The Holy Spirit gave this special insight to Simeon, who was righteous and devout.
In the Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit was present, though very differently from his presence in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit’s presence was selective and temporary. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit permanently indwells in the believer.
Simeon was one of the few people in OT times that God had blessed with his Spirit. Luke 2:27-32,
“Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory to your people Israel.”
The Spirit had imbued Simeon with special knowledge. Jesus is only eight years old, and Simeon is talking about him being “a light of revelation to the Gentiles”. At this point in time, in Israel, no one gives the Gentiles a thought.
He had been blessed by God. Through his devotion to God, God realized his sincere longing to see the prophecies of the Messiah to be fulfilled.
Simeon was patient. But he was patient with expectation. His life had been devoted to God. He trusted God, he expected God to fulfill the prophecies of the Messiah. The only question for him is will he live long enough to see these Messianic prophecies fulfilled? God answered Simeon’s loyalty and devotion with this promise and by keeping this promise.
So now we come back to today and we are struggling to be patient in waiting a few weeks until we open presents.
Some of us are struggling, waiting on healing for ourselves or a loved one, maybe waiting on that job we need, waiting on a financial miracle, or, as in the case of the scores of people that I see here at Opportunity House, waiting for shelter, a simple stable place to live. To all of you, I say this, be patient, do not lose faith, and keep your expectations. Because Jesus is coming.
Jesus is coming. Do not be afraid. No matter what you are going through, do not be afraid. Jesus is coming and he will be great and reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. Jesus is coming. He came for the first time in a manger over two thousand years ago. He will come again, at the trumpet blast. Jesus is coming. For nothing is impossible for God. Nothing is impossible for God. Jesus is coming. His word is his promise.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC