“For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is His name.” (Isaiah 54:5) For over sixty years this was the Scripture the widow Anna clung to…a unbreakable covenant tie of love and loyalty when there was no one else. She was a well recognized and respected fixture at the Temple, for it says she never left but worshiped night and day. And like Simeon, she was longing to see the promised Messiah. So on that day when Mary and Joseph presented the baby Jesus in the Temple, Anna knew this wasn’t any ordinary child…for this was the fulfillment of prophecy. And she was one of the first to publicly announce that the Messiah had come.
As was the Jewish custom, Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the Temple on the 8th day in order to present Him to the Lord. Now Simeon was a very elderly Jew who had devoutly waited his entire lifetime to catch a glimpse of the Messiah. It says that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before seeing this wondrous site. Do you think the Holy Spirit whispered to him that morning, “Today is the day, Simeon…today you will come face to face with your promised Savior!” I can only imagine Simeon’s excitement as he watched the crowds entering the Temple…”Is that Him? Is that Him?” And when the Holy Spirit nudged him, do you think he was astounded to see a tiny baby? Simeon then gently gathered Jesus in his arms and looked heavenward, tears streaming down his face, as he proclaimed, “Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, 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 glory to Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)
These three wise men had traveled from a long distance, relying on astrological charts and Old Testament prophecy…following this bright star in the Eastern sky. And on arriving in Bethlehem, they found the foretold King of the Jews and offered three extravagant gifts worthy of royalty…gold, frankincense, and myrrh. So on this special day of giving and receiving presents, we also have three gifts we can give the Christ Child. For Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” These three gifts you have to give are unique only to you…for they comprise who you are…your mind, body, and spirit. Therefore, they make up the greatest gift you could ever give anyone today…especially the King of Kings.
I know your day is busy with lots of last-minute things to do before Christmas. But I have a present for you…so will you take a moment from your hectic schedule? Now I know this present isn’t very pretty, in fact it’s very battered looking with red stains on the outside. And to the world it would seem very old fashion and out of date. But this present could literally change your life for the better…with joy, peace, and wholeness. This gift is actually from God, and He, Himself, is offering it to you.. For this wonderful gift is His Son, Jesus Christ…and the whole reason why we celebrate Christmas tomorrow. So please receive this gift of hope, called the Good News…for Jesus came and died for your sins that you may have eternal life.
The wise men came searching from afar. They had discovered that magnificent new star in the night sky and determined it was a sign…a sign of royalty. And so they began their journey of discovery. So what are you searching for today? Peace, truth, comfort, hope? There is only one place to find what you’re looking for, and it’s in the Name of Jesus Christ…for He’s what you’re ultimately looking for. Nothing in the world will ever compare to Jesus and the love He has for you. And just like the Magi, your quest can conclude by bowing down and worshipping the Messiah.
The shepherds had just experienced the greatest light show ever…more sensational than the biggest fireworks display…more glorious than anything the world had ever seen. Mixed with their awe and wonder was excitement…they had just been told about the coming Messiah. No wonder they all agreed to, “go to Bethlehem and see this thing,(Rhema) the Lord has told us about.” They had been given God’s Word…the Greek word is Rhema…and their enthusiasm was infectious. And after they had found the Christ child, their elation didn’t wane, for in Luke 2:17 it tells us that, ” When they had seen Him, they spread the Word ( Rhema) concerning what they had been told about this child.” These plain, ordinary men were the very first missionaries, spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. They had no Theological degrees or advanced education… God’s Word had touched them and couldn’t contain their elation. They were compelled to tell others just as we should be. For the greatest story ever told is the one they spread…a Savior has been born to you; He is Jesus Christ the Lord.
For Mary, this was her first baby…and for the world, it was likewise a new beginning. For Mary, it was her first labor and delivery in rather dismal conditions.. for us, it was the gift of a new start. It tells us in Colossians 1:15 that, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born over all creation.” When that tiny baby was born, the manifestation of God the Father came to earth to dwell among us. And when Mary laid baby Jesus in that manger, surrounded by livestock and hay, the preeminence over all creation arrived to light the way for sinners.
In our minds, we’d love to have it…the perfect Christmas, complete with bells and mistletoe, gifts and family. But it usually doesn’t work out that way, and in the weeks leading up to Christmas stress takes over and we find ourselves focused on the wrong things. We’re worshipping the problems by worrying…we’re devoting ourselves to a crazy schedule out of desperation…and we’re putting up on a pedestal the to-do list only we think must get done. Quit fretting and stewing over the small stuff…Christmas will happen with or without every detail being done and it will be perfect in its imperfect way. For if you think about it…there has been only one “perfect” Christmas…and it happened in all places – a cow shed.
When the angel came to Mary she had questions, but in the end accepted the unfathomable. With Joseph though, it wasn’t that easy. The very human feelings of hurt and rejection were evident in his decision to divorce Mary quietly. And it certainly was within the Law to dismiss her from the bond of marriage with a Certificate of Divorce for her perceived conduct. But before this could happen, the angel visited Joseph and convinced him that what Mary had told him was true…she in fact had not been unfaithful. The Lord will sometimes give us a promise so wonderful and far-fetched that we can’t put our heads around it either…it’s at that point we will make the decision to either believe God or reject it based on our shallow emotions.
The Lord has called you and laid on your heart a promise, but like Mary, you can’t understand how this could possibly happen. Like Mary, you have questions…but also like her, God will faithfully answer them all in due time. And in the end, like Mary, we will need to put our complete faith and trust in God, knowing that what He has placed on our heart will come about. Today you too are pregnant… you’re pregnant with a promise…a promise that’s about to come full-term.