Sunday, February 2, 2003

Presentation of Our Lord
Malachi 3:1-4
Psalm 84
Hebrews 2:14-18
Luke 2:22-40

O Jehovah of hosts, Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

What incredible blessings are offered to those who trust in the Lord! Simeon was very old when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple. He had been waiting a long time for the fulfillment of a promise from God. He would see that which had been longed for by so many -- the salvation of of Israel. He was in the temple because he trusted the Lord. Not only did he believe the promise, but he obeyed the quiet urging of the Holy Spirit which led him there that day. When he saw Jesus, he knew the glory of God had come into the temple and he praised God.

Then there was Anna, who had been widowed for many years. She did not wallow in self pity, but rather spent her days fasting and praying in the temple. She trusted God to care for her. She went to Mary, Joseph and Jesus praising God for what she knew to be true about the baby. Then she talked about Him to all who also longed for the salvation of Israel. God's presence was evident in the temple as never before, the glory of God had indeed come into the world and was right there in the arms of those He came to save.

Simeon's words to Mary were not entirely comforting. "Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel; and for a sign which is spoken against; yea and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed." Jesus was the revelation of God, the glory of God in flesh, come to dwell among the people and give us life. Yet, many of the people were expecting something different. They only looked as far as this life and they wanted a king who would save them from their enemies. Jesus would not have it easy and many would reject Him. Simeon told Mary that the hearts of men would be revealed. Jesus would lift up those who believed and lived in faith, trusting in God, but for those who did not believe He would be a stumbling block. Those who trust in God will see His glory. But amidst the joy of this moment of revelation was the truth that Jesus would suffer and Mary would suffer along with Him as she watched her son die.

Do you ever wonder how people like Simeon, Anna and Mary got through each day waiting? It is only by the mercy of God that they could be so patient. The Psalmist writes, "Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; In whose heart are the highways to Zion." They live from moment to moment in the promises of God, knowing that He will get them to their destination. The moment that Simeon saw the Lord Jesus, he said,"Now lettest thou thy servant depart, Lord, According to thy word, in peace." He no longer had to wait because he was made complete by seeing Christ. "They go from strength to strength; Every one of them appeareth before God in Zion."

The only way for the promises of God to be fulfilled was for Jesus to come in flesh, for the glory of God to dwell among His people and to die in their stead. For generations the priests had offered sacrifices before the Lord to atone for the sins of the people. They laid their sins on the scapegoats and sprinkled the blood of lambs on the mercy seat, but it never lasted. Each year the same ceremonies were required because sin and death were never defeated, the priests were not blameless and the lambs were not enough to atone for human sin. They could not overcome the one who held the power of death, the devil. We needed a spotless lamb of the same flesh -- human -- and a blameless priest to offer the lamb before God. God gave us Jesus, His Son who gave up the glory of heaven to dwell among us and to die for us.

Simeon, Anna and Mary were blessed to see that salvation in the flesh, to even hold Him in their arms. They trusted God and lived in faith. They knew it was better to live in the courts of God than to dwell with the wicked. The life is not easy -- Mary's soul would be pierced with a sword. But such a life is such a blessing for the Lord uses every moment to bring us deeper into His heart, to refine our lives as one refines gold. It takes trust in God to live such a life, but like Simeon, Anna and Mary, blessed are those who trust in the Lord. For He has shown us His glory and He now dwells in all who believe, taking us from moment to moment, strength to strength, until that day when we will see the glory in its fullness. Thanks be to God. 

A WORD FOR TODAY
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