“My eyes have seen your salvation!” ~Luke 2:30
Simeon and Anna were both at the temple in Jerusalem that day Joseph and Mary brought their six-weeks-old baby boy to the priests for dedication. Scripture tells us that Simeon was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” and that Anna and others with her were “looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” And when they gazed upon the infant Jesus, they saw the Lord’s salvation. They were looking at a baby, but they saw the glorious fulfillment of God’s promises. They saw it!
Israel was being brought back together as God’s united people because of Jesus. The powerful would be humbled and the lowly would be raised because of Jesus. Evil was being defeated and the captives were being set free because of Jesus. God had always promised to comfort and console his people; to protect and provide for his people; to rescue and restore his people. Simeon and Anna both saw how all those eternal pledges were finally coming true in Jesus. And not just for Israel, but for the whole world!
Simeon is looking at a baby; but he sees salvation from God.
Anna is gazing at an infant; but she sees deliverance from God.
You know why they saw it? You know why they recognized it? Because they were looking forward to it! They were waiting for it, watching for it, expecting it, anticipating it. They were laying awake every night like little kids on Christmas Eve: can’t sleep, can’t wait, all I think about, hurry up and get here!
Fifty years ago everybody was looking at a couple of missionaries in Brazil. But a few of God’s saints saw Great Cities Missions and dozens and dozens of teams of gospel proclaimers preaching the Word and planting churches and baptizing and making disciples in the largest capitol cities all over the Latin world. Because of Jesus. They anticipated it because of Jesus. They expected it.
We gaze at Ellwood park across the street here at Central and we know it as a place for drug dealers and prostitutes and crime. Well, some of us are going to have to see a place where the hungry are fed, where the discouraged are lifted up, where bridges are built and community is forged and where God draws people to himself to the glory of his great name. Because of Jesus. We have to anticipate it. We have to look forward to it.
We look at the Madison Apartments and we know it as an eyesore, a slum, a dilapidated and dangerous cluster of buildings that represent the darkness and desperation of our church’s neighborhood. We know it as something that needs to be mowed down by a bulldozer and leveled. But we’ve bought those apartments. We own them. Because there’s a growing number of saints in our church who actually see the largest branch of this city’s first ever free medical clinic operating in those buildings. We anticipate doctors and nurses and dentists providing health care at no charge; we see God’s people singing and praying and celebrating with men and women and children who’ve never had any health care before; we expect folks in our neighborhood to experience the love and grace of our God maybe for the first time in their lives. Because of Jesus.
I look at the Central Church of Christ and I know us as a terrific group of warm and friendly God-fearing people with an excellent reputation in our community for wanting to help others. But I see something more. I see a group of 700 followers of Jesus; all of us committed to discipleship; dedicated to giving every part of our lives to God; focused on transformation and the hard changes it demands. I anticipate all of us to be totally sold out to God’s salvation mission so that we all have our own ministries, our own mission points, taking God’s gospel to the bankers and lawyers in the southwest part of town, proclaiming the good news at the parks and ball fields on the east side of town, spreading God’s mercy and grace in the medical district, sacrificing and serving in his name at the schools and shelters downtown, purposefully taking God’s love to the coffee shop in Pampa and the Supercuts in Canyon. I see it. I’m expecting it. All of us. Eventually turning our whole community upside down as salvation from God reaches every single corner of the panhandle. Because of Jesus.
What are you looking for? What are you anticipating because of Jesus?
Can you see the darkness in your circumstance eventually turned to light because of Jesus? Can you see the despair of your situation eventually turning to joy because of Jesus? Can you see the mundane aspects of your life eventually being filled with excitement and purpose for God and his salvation mission?
Simeon and Anna were looking at a baby. But they saw the promised salvation from God.
Yes, our God can sometimes seem slow. We might even say God is slow as Christmas. But he will fulfill all his promises to you and to his people and to the whole world. Our God is faithful and he will keep his Word. And he left his home in glory and came here to us one clear and starry night in a manger in Bethlehem, as a baby, as a human baby, so we could see.