LUKE 2:30-32 (NLT) | “I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Christmas can usher in a high level of stress, and every year there’s danger that Jesus will get lost in all the busyness and noise. Ironically, that was even true at the very first Christmas, as the little town of Bethlehem burst at the seams with an influx of out-of-town guests. Given that reality, it’s fitting that so many parts of the Christmas story are about seeing and worshipping Jesus.
Are you ready to see Jesus this Christmas? Really see him?
Old Simeon in the temple courts was ready. He had been “eagerly looking for the messiah,” and with Spirit eyes, when he saw the infant, just eight days old, he saw. He knew who the squirming child was before him, and all that this little life meant. He recognized, received, and worshipped.
Simeon’s recognition of Jesus was amazing. But even more amazing is that Jesus was recognized only a few days after conception. We are told Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth right after the angel’s announcement to her. And Elizabeth’s unborn child, John, leapt for joy. Elizabeth couldn’t even see the child, but through Spirit eyes recognized his presence.
Contrast this with the unfortunately notorious innkeeper, who coldly shut Jesus out. Or with King Herod, who responded to the news with a death sentence for all the infants of Bethlehem. Contrast it with the religious leaders who saw and heard all that Jesus said and did 30 years later, and still refused to see.
What makes some able to recognize Jesus, even when they can’t see him with their eyes, while others miss what is right in front of them?
The common thread linking those who saw together is the Spirit of God. The Spirit is the one who filled Elizabeth and the one who led Simeon to the temple. The Spirit opens our hearts to see Jesus. And the more we give God’s Holy Spirit access to our hearts, the more we will be able to see the presence of Jesus and respond in worship—even when that presence is hidden.
If the challenge of being in tune with God’s Spirit feels intimidating, reflect on the encouragement of another part of the story—a part that shows God’s readiness to help us. There was one group of people who weren’t poised and ready at all! In fact, it took an entire angelic army announcing Jesus’ birth on a hillside to get their attention. But God wanted those shepherds, in the dusty mayhem of their everyday lives, to be part of the worship chorus.
And he wants us just as much.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION:
- How do you find yourself this season? Are you working long hours and a little oblivious to God like the shepherds, or poised and ready to worship like Simeon?
- When you look at Jesus, who do you see? Is he more than a baby in a manger? Can you recognize him as God’s Salvation for you, still present with you today? Talk with God about what you can see now, and what you’d like to see more fully.
- What is one way you could create sacred space to recognize and worship Jesus right where you’re at this week?
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