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In Luke 2:22-40, we are introduced to two individuals named Simeon and Anna. They were in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to “present him to the Lord.” We learn that Simeon and Anna were faithful believers expectantly awaiting the Messiah’s promised appearance.
We are also told that Simeon was waiting for “the consolation of Israel” and Anna for “the redemption of Jerusalem.” Scripture says they “saw” what they were waiting for.
So, what are we waiting for?
How often have you heard words similar to this throughout your Christian life:
“God’s truth is marching on. His ways will not fail. There is a heaven and a hell. Christ will return one day, and only those who have believed in him will share in the forever kingdom he promises to establish. This is the trajectory of all history – the coming and return of the Messiah. That’s what the word history actually means. It’s his-story. Each day we are moving closer to that great day when his plan of salvation for the world is completed.”
It’s not that these words aren’t true, it’s that they seem to dismiss the present reality of Christ’s earthly kingdom. While well-intentioned, words like this make the historical and redemptive facts of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection seem insufficient. Were these events only the introductory phase of God’s plan of salvation? What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished”? (see John 19:28-30)
I ask again: What are we waiting for?
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Consider what it means that Jesus is King. When does His “forever kingdom” begin? Is Jesus simply a King over a future Kingdom? If it’s not established now, when will it be?
Like many in Israel at the time of Jesus’ birth, Christians today are looking for a political savior to rescue them and break the chains of tyranny. Christian leaders tell people to look up and ahead to Jesus’ second coming and rejoice that their “redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). But was this the response of Simeon and Anna? Were they rejoicing in what God would do millennia in the future, or were they rejoicing about what God was doing then?
Simeon said: “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” (Luke 2:29-32). Simeon rejoiced at seeing God’s salvation, even though he was well aware that there was much more that needed to be done.
If all Truth is God’s Truth and history is His-Story, what does that make this present time? Is it a sovereignly ordained time in God’s Story, or is it another waiting period like the one Simeon and Anna were experiencing? If history is His-Story, then His-Story seems to be an extended period of waiting for Him to act over and over again. But God has acted. He sent His Son in human form.
But what does the incarnation of Jesus mean? For Simeon and Anna, it was a confirmation of God’s faithfulness to act on behalf of His people. They believed that the incarnate Jesus WAS God’s plan of salvation for the world. They weren’t bothered by the fact that their hope for Israel was bound up in the helpless frame of a baby. Quite the opposite; they were overjoyed.
The Magi and King Herod also took Jesus’ birth quite seriously. So seriously, in fact, that it caused them to act: the Magi to travel from Babylon and Herod to slaughter all male babies under two years old. How seriously do we take the message of Jesus’ birth? Are we just waiting for our own version of the “consolation of Israel” and missing the real importance of the Incarnation? Jesus HAS come; the King IS here.
Simeon and Anna rejoiced to see their Savior and weren’t dissuaded by the continued division between religious and political leaders and the rest of the people in Israel. In fact, this political and religious division was a primary message of the adult Jesus during His ministry and teaching. He had very unflattering and harsh words for these leaders; words that apply today as much as they did 2000 years ago.
Just as David didn’t always appear to be a “man after God’s own heart,” so God’s Kingdom doesn’t always look like we expect. But that doesn’t mean it’s not here. God is not slow in His promises, but He’s not always particularly fast either (2 Peter 3:8-9). Jesus came “in the fulness of time” (Galatians 4:4-5).
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught His disciples (and us) to pray that God’s kingdom would come and that His will would be done “on earth as it in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). But if we learn anything from Simeon and Anna, it is that Jesus Himself was incarnated proof that God was already doing this very thing. Reconciling heaven and earth isn’t merely a future hope; it was, and is, a very present reality.
The incarnation is proof that God listens to His people. The incarnation is proof that God is with us. The incarnation is proof that God follows through on His promises. The incarnation IS the consolation and redemption of Israel. Jesus is King NOW; He has the victory NOW. And if you are in Christ, it means that you have a present and victorious King NOW.
So, what are you waiting for?
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