It seems like there’s been a lot of waiting this year. From those early days of optimism, when we were so young in March, when we were waiting at home for just two weeks until this virus thing died down. Then we waited for the summer and good weather to kill it. Now we’re waiting for vaccines. We waited for the election, then waited for the results, and now are waiting to see how the transition of power goes. We are mostly waiting for life to go back to normal, when we can go out to eat, watch our kids play sports, and gather with our families; when we can see people’s entire faces; when we aren’t dominated by fear. We are waiting.
You know who else was waiting? The Jewish people during the time of Jesus’ birth. They were waiting for Rome to go away. They were waiting for freedom and for self-governance. They were waiting to not be oppressed with taxes by a foreign power. They were waiting to return to the glory days of King David. In the midst of their waiting for military, political, and economic freedom, Jesus was born, the Son of God, the Savior of the world.
As I was going through Luke this year, I was struck by two people who got to meet Jesus when he was presented at the temple. Not only did they get to see Jesus, but the Bible is clear that God specifically rewarded them by showing them Jesus. They are Simeon and Anna. Why them? Why those two? I think it’s because they were waiting. Now, all of Israel was waiting, but Anna and Simeon were waiting for something different.
First, let’s read what Simeon was waiting for. Luke 2:25 says “Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” He was not waiting for freedom or a military deliverer or earthly power at all. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel. What does consolation mean? It means comfort or rescue. Okay, so rescue could still mean a military rescue right? Well no, he was waiting for the Savior who would rescue Israel from sin, and not only Israel, but the Gentiles too. We can tell that by his blessing in Luke 2:29-32 which says, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel, a permanent consolation, that could only come through God’s Son, who did not stay in heaven, but came down alongside us, to walk with us, to give His life to reconcile whoever believes to God. A revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel. Because Simeon was waiting for this, he didn’t miss Jesus.
The other person who got to meet little Jesus was Anna. She was a widow of many years who spent her time fasting and praying night and day in the temple. What was she waiting for? We find this in Luke 2:38 which says, “and coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” She was waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Now, what does that mean? Redemption means to be bought back from sin, to be free from the guilt of sin. Anna was waiting for the one who could free us from sin.She knew she was a sinner, and not only that, but that her sin was a bigger problem that the Roman occupation. She was waiting for the one who could redeem her, who could reconcile her to God, and she met Jesus. She not only met Him, but told of Him to others who were waiting for the same thing, for redemption.
It struck me that neither one of these people were saved out of their circumstances. After they met Jesus, they still lived under Roman rule, they still paid too much in taxes, they still weren’t politically free. But they were consoled, they were redeemed, they met Jesus, and did not miss him. They had a Savior who came alongside them. The rest of the book of Luke contains many people who missed Jesus, from the pharisees and religious rulers trying to trap and get rid of him, to the disciples who lived and walked with him but still missed Jesus at times, waiting to rule in the kingdom they were sure He was bringing. The only people who are sure not to miss Jesus are the ones who know they are sinners, who know they are in need, who come to Jesus to seek consolation and redemption. Those people never miss Jesus.
So in this time of waiting, I realized I should not spend so much of time waiting to be delivered out of these circumstances, waiting for better, more normal days. “Normal” may be weeks away like we first thought, or months away. Who knows? In my impatience, while I focus on my circumstances and being delivered out of them, I might miss Jesus. What I need to be focused on is my need for redemption, my need for consolation, my need for a Savior to walk alongside me as I navigate this uncertain world, and not only my need for those things but the needs of my loved ones, my countrymen, and the world. We all need consolation. We all need redemption. When we come to Jesus with that, we find it, and we find Him.
This Christmas are you weary of waiting? Are you weary of coronavirus and lockdown, of political unrest and uncertainty all around? Then come to Jesus. Come to Him in your weariness, with your needs. Bring them to Him. As Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Come to Jesus in your need and find consolation. Find redemption. Find a Savior to walk alongside you. Find Him.