In the final sermon of our Advent series (John 1:1-18), the presence of God was once again with His people. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The Creator had become part of His creation.
In this week’s devotional, you’ll read about what happened after that first Christmas day. Life went on after the birth. Just like any other Jewish parent in their day, Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus—Emmanuel—to the Temple. As you read, consider that ways God is still at work in and through your life 2,000 years after Jesus was born.
When the eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus — the name given by the angel before he was conceived. And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons).
There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him up in his arms, praised God, and said,
you can dismiss your servant in peace,
as you promised.
For my eyes have seen your salvation.
You have prepared it
in the presence of all peoples —
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and glory to your people Israel.
Luke 2:21-32 (CSB)
All Scripture references are taken from the Christian Standard Bible. http://read.csbible.com/
The Christmas story didn’t begin with a baby in a manger. The Bible has been telling the story of Jesus since the beginning of time. Christmas is ultimately a celebration of God’s faithfulness and his unfailing love for us.
The Christmas story doesn’t end with the manger either. The gift of the gospel message has been passed down from the ancestors of our faith so that we too can be made heirs with Christ.
Mary and Joseph still had to go through the routines and rituals of daily life. The birth of Jesus was just the beginning. They had to raise this young child—the Son of God. Their offering of two doves or pigeons reveals their faithfulness despite their poverty (Leviticus 12:1-8). They kept the requirements of the law but could not afford a lamb for their offering.
What a beautiful picture!
Much like Abraham had trusted God to provide a sacrificial lamb as a substitute for his promised son, Mary and Joseph now dedicated their only son back to the Lord. This new mother and father held their first-born child, the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. He would be the substitutionary sacrifice for all who put their faith in Him. There is nothing we can offer or do in our own ability to be reconciled to God. We are spiritually poor. But the God who is mercy has given us the greatest gift—his own Son—the sacrificial Lamb.
As this young family continued to live by faithful obedience, they encountered others along the way. Remember, Mary and Joseph had been leading ordinary lives when the received news of Jesus. The shepherds were tending their flocks in the field as usual when an angelic choir appeared to announce the arrival of their newborn King. While observing a customary trip to the Temple, they met a man who erupted in praise. He had been waiting for the day when God would fulfill His promise to send the Messiah.
After seeing Jesus, Simeon said that he could die a happy man. What more was there to life than encountering the Savior of the world. He was not merely longing for his own personal blessing. He was not even longing for the benefit of his own people. Simeon’s heart longed for the salvation of all people. He longed for God to be praised among every nation.
If God were to give you the desire of your heart—if your most deeply-felt prayer was answered—what would happen? Would anyone else’s life be different? How would God be glorified? Would you, like Simeon, be perfectly satisfied in beholding the work of God in and through Jesus Christ for all nations? The truth is that God is at work in and through you and your seemingly ordinary routines, to spread the Good News of Jesus.
Story after story reveals this same pattern of promise, praise, proclamation, and presence. Our faithful heavenly Father keeps the promises in His Word. Our hearts rejoice in praise of God’s mercy and love. We proclaim the Good News of Jesus—Savior and King. His presence is with us, by the Holy Spirit, as we continue to spread this pattern in our daily lives. Even the ordinary moments take on extraordinary purpose when we live in faithful obedience to our God.
Pray that your heart would be fully satisfied in Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to stir your affections for God’s work in bringing salvation to people of every nation. Commit to serving the Lord with faithful obedience, even in the seemingly common routines of your daily life.