Two astronomers were up all night studying the stars. One saw the brilliant colors of the sunrise said, “God paints a pretty picture.” The other one said, “What do you mean ‘God paints a pretty picture?’ That’s nothing more than the rays of the sun being refracted and reflected off cloud producing a distortion of the wavelengths.”
The first one said, “I know that! I can even identify the exact cloud formations produce each color. I can draw the process of fusion produces the light. So, when I see a sunrise like this - I still see the hand of God in it.” The skeptic replied, “Well, how come I look at the same sunrise and not see the hand of God?” The first one said, “You’re not looking in the right way.”
People are hard headed. Most people are like the skeptic one. He was looking right at the hand of God at work and he couldn’t see it. He couldn’t see the hand of God because he was not looking the right way.
The story is about an old woman and an old man who were both very devout and faithful people. They were led by the Holy Spirit to proclaim baby Jesus as the Messiah.
So, that is the story we have all heard from childhood. We were brought up hearing Jesus came as a baby. It’s not surprising when Simeon picked up Jesus and blessed him, or Anna ran about telling people the Messiah had come.
But that was not the way people were expecting the Messiah to come. They weren’t looking for the Messiah as a baby. They expected the Messiah to come in clouds of glory. They expected the heavens torn open and the Son of Man to descend with armies of angels.
They expected the Messiah to sit on a throne - to be a king who would liberate Israel from foreign rule.
They didn’t expect the Messiah to come softly in the night and born in a manger. It’s not what they had been told. They thought the whole world would see the Messiah’s coming. Instead, only few shepherds did.
Many saw Jesus didn’t know he was the Messiah. They had it all figured out the Messiah would come in clouds of glory. They didn’t see God’s hands in Jesus’ birth because they weren’t looking in the right way.
These expectations made it harder for faithful people to see clearly. Mary didn’t understand what was going on. She was only one who likely to see these events clearly.
Angel Gabriel had appeared to her. She “pondered these things in her heart.” She didn’t fully understand.
Simeon and Anna were no different. Like others, they expected the Messiah to come in clouds of glory.
The Holy Spirit had revealed to him he would not die before the Messiah come. So, year after year he came to the temple expecting to see the Messiah. He imagined the Messiah was coming out of the heavens and descending into the Holy of Hollies.
So, when the Messiah came - he came out just like anyone else. Instead of ending up at the Holy of Hollies - he was at the place where infants were purified.
So, Simeon and Anna had seen hundreds of children came through the temple to be purified. They knew Jesus was different. The Spirit revealed to them this child was the Savior of the world.
People saw Jesus brought into the temple. They didn’t see him as Messiah because they weren’t looking in the right way. Anna and Simeon were able to see the hands of God at work in that common everyday event.
People expect to see God in extraordinary events. They expect to see God in miracles. They expect to meet Christ at special times of the year. They think Christmas time is a special time they’re likely to meet Jesus.
But when Christmas is over many people are upset. The specialness of the season is past. So, there are over 300 days before it comes again. The special time to remember the Messiah is over. They think their chance to see God at work in their lives is passed for another year.
But I have good news! Jesus is here. God’s hand is at work in our lives. Jesus is with us. We can see God’s hand at work in everyday events with the eyes of faith.
We have to be like Anna and Simeon. We expect to see the Messiah. And if we meet with that expectation - then the presence of God will be revealed to us just as it was to Anna and Simeon. Shalom and Amen!
Scripture: Luke 2:22-40