Greg's Blog

The Man Who Held Hope in His Arms

by Greg Laurie on Dec 23, 2018

There are a lot of things we have to wait for in life, which is maybe one of the reasons I don’t love amusement parks all that much. I think my favorite moments of going to an amusement park are when I arrive and when it’s time to leave. There are so many lines. There is so much waiting.

Some things are hard to wait for, and some things are not worth the wait. But then there are the things that are actually worth waiting for.

What are you waiting for this Christmas? Is it the hope that all of your family will join you for a celebration? Or maybe it’s the hope that not all your family will actually show up.

The problem with Christmas is that it cannot deliver on all the hype. We get so worked up about it, but Christmas can only take us so far.

What is Christmas at its best? It is gathering with family and friends, enjoying meals together, exchanging gifts and worshiping together. These are a glimpse of things to come, because in many ways, Christmas is a promise – a promise that has not been fully kept.

It is really about more than Christmas; it’s about Christ. That is what we are longing for – not Christmas but Christ. Not merriment but the Messiah. Not goodwill but God. Not presents but his presence.

The Bible tells us about a man who was looking for Christ. He is often overlooked in the Christmas story, but he is very significant. Simeon doesn’t appear in any Nativity scene, yet he preceded the wise men, who came much later. Simeon saw the little child Jesus being dedicated in the Temple only eight days after his birth.

Simeon was waiting for Christmas – eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come. This was no small feat at this time in history. Israel had, for all practical purposes, turned its back on God. The people of Israel had not heard from God for four centuries. It had been 400 years since a prophet appeared, 400 years since an angelic appearance, 400 years since a miracle had been performed.

The last word the people of Israel received from God had come through the prophet Malachi, for whom the last book of the Old Testament is named.

Do you ever feel as though you’re the only Christian in your world? Even though some people in your family profess faith, they don’t seem to really want to practice it. Maybe you feel as though you’re the only Christian in your home or in your neighborhood or on your campus or in your workplace. That is probably how Simeon felt in many ways. But know this: God rewards faithfulness.

Simeon, whose name means “God has heard,” had been holding on to a promise of Scripture that God had given 400 years earlier through Malachi: “But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” (4:2 NKJV).

God had revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. Then one day God led Simeon to go to the Temple, and in walked Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus. They didn’t have halos; they looked like any other family. But Simeon walked with God, and God revealed to him that this baby was the Messiah.

Simeon walked up to Mary and Joseph and took the child in his arms. Then he said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32 NKJV).

Simeon had been eagerly waiting for Jesus to come the first time. Jesus Christ is coming back a second time as well, and we should be eagerly waiting for it. The Bible says, “Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28 NLT).

Are you eagerly awaiting the return of Christ? I think that is a real test, in many ways, of where you are spiritually. If you’re right with God, then you will long for the return of Christ. If you’re not right with God, or if you’re living in a way that you shouldn’t be living, then I think you will dread hearing about the return of Christ. But he will come again.

The first time Jesus came to a manger. The next time he will come in glory.

The first time he was surrounded by shepherds and animals. The next time he will be accompanied by saints and angels.

The first time there was no room for him in the inn. The next time the door of the heavens will be opened to him.

The first time he came as the Lamb of God who would die for the sins of the world. The next time he will return as the ferocious Lion of the tribe of Judah.

Yes, Jesus is coming back, and like Simeon, we should live in anticipation of that day. The Messiah is coming again.

Simeon had the privilege of holding hope in his arms when he held Jesus. Hope has a name, and it is Jesus. Simeon held on to that hope. And we have that same hope today.

Taken from my Weekly Column at World Net Daily.

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