Welcome Home, Jesus
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Luke 2:38a (Holman) At that very moment, she came up and began to
thank God. . .
At what moment? Right when Simeon, who had been promised he would not die till he saw the Messiah, was praising God. Hearing Simeon giving thanks for the Messiah, Anna agreed with him and took up the theme.
When God came as a baby, and made His first in-flesh appearance in His temple, He was recognized by only two people: one old man and one old woman. God the Holy Spirit made sure that two spiritually venerated saints, a duo respected by the temple crowd, would bare witness to Jesus, and essentially represent the whole human race in welcoming God the Son into God the Father’s house. Simeon and Anna, as it were, stood at the front door, saying, “Welcome home; come in!!” Thrilled and thankful, they praised God for the fact He had come in the form of a baby to save His people.
We do not have a temple building to welcome Jesus into, but we each have an inner temple, a heart with a throneroom, where we can welcome Him. Don’t hang Bethlehem’s “No room” sign on the doorpost of your heart.
I like the fact that the temple welcoming committee consisted of two older saints. I had all four of my grandparents till I was 28 years old. I have always felt a close affinity for the elderly. I feel at home with older folks.
I was taught to respect my elders. I was not allowed to address an adult by only their first name. I always said, “Mr., Mrs., Brother, Sister, Uncle, Aunt, Grandpa, Grandma, etc.” We have lost much of this respect for the elderly. In my early days, two verses about white hair, the “hoary head” as the KJV called it, were prominent. “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31). In other words, growing old is an honor if it is accomplished through a life of godliness.
“Rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man” (Leviticus 19:32). That is, respect your elders; hold them in high esteem.
Youth is the new altar of fawning adoration. Some have a phobia of looking old. Don’t misunderstand me; it never hurts to varnish an old barn.
I merely caution us; don’t try to look a lot younger than we are. People are more insightful than we think. I hurt for morticians who must be shocked when they see a corpse that has a 30-year-old face, but an 80-year-old body.
Don’t dread aging. Instead, prepare to embrace it for God. Focus on, and master, spiritual things. Look around. Find older examples to follow. Watch them. Learn from their mistakes. Hear their stories. Ask them to pray for you. Listen to their prayers. Examples are everywhere around us. Learn from them because we will soon have to take their place as spiritual leaders.
This is the case for me. My dad is our family patriarch. He has been for my entire life. But as he weakens, I feel the mantle pressing more heavily on me. Many of us in this room, before many more years pass, will have to move up to the forefront of the battle line in our family’s spiritual warfare.
Luke 2:38b . . .and to speak about Him to all who were looking
forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
The prophetess prophesied. She preached to anyone who cared to listen. We can learn a helpful practical lesson from her. What is an effective remedy for loneliness, especially during this Christmas season? Finding something helpful to do, and having determination to do it; choosing to bless others, to live outside our self, to realize the world is bigger than just me.
Yes, Anna had white hair, a wrinkled face, and trembling hands, but she also had an inner beauty that could not be hidden, a loveliness that wore well. Our sun provides a good illustration here. Sometimes when the sun is setting it seems to suddenly linger, and hover on the horizon for a while.
Since the day is essentially done, the sun’s only purpose at this point seems to be to show off how pretty it can be and how beautiful its rays can make Nature. Its loveliness makes things in the path of its rays beautiful.
Similarly, even as the sun occasionally lingers on the horizon to show off its beauty, God sometimes lets beautiful lives be extended. Their duties are in essence done, their work is for the most part finished, but they are allowed to linger in order that God may let people look on their beauty. Even in this room, among us today, there are some lingering even now. Find them.
Let me share one more thought from our text. Jesus was born at a sad, dark time. Jerusalem had become the holy unholy city. Simeon and Anna remind us; even in bad times, some people remain faithful and constant. As Elijah learned in his midnight hour, 7,000 had not bowed the knee to Baal.
There is much dejection and hopelessness in USA Christians. Despair not. Even in the worst times, God has a witness. In these dark days for Israel, some were still true to God: Simeon, Anna, Joseph, Mary, Zechariah, and Elizabeth. God worked in this faithful remnant to do His greatest work ever.
Maybe the USA is seeing not the decline of true Christianity, but of nominal Christianity. Maybe we’ll finally have only an indomitable remnant, who will earnestly pray, stay faithful in persecution, and call down revival.