Christmas Treasure (Luke 2:15-35)
The baby has arrived. Mary has nursed him and now lies resting. Joseph has taken the gauzy cloths from around his own waist, traveller’s garb in case of unexpected death on a journey, and with it swaddles Mary’s tiny son. Lined with fresh hay, the cave’s manger becomes a cradle for the infant. Humble beginnings. As the first light of dawn chases away all but the brightest of stars a small group of shepherds arrive, breathless with excitement. They pause at the cave’s door; will the sign given by the angel be as he said? Does the Messiah lie within?
After hearing their incredible story Joseph wakes Mary and admits the visitors. He tells her they are looking for a baby in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. ‘How did they know?’ her eyes silently ask. At first sight of the baby they fall to their knees in wonder, worshiping God. Murmurs of praise rise from their lips. Why has the Almighty One chosen them to be the first to witness such a prophecy’s fulfillment? Great treasure lies before them. The Messiah, Savior of the people, has finally come!
Now, forty days have passed since the baby’s birth. He has been named Jeshua–‘Yahweh Saves’ (Jesus) as the angel directed. With two pigeons in hand, Joseph arrives in Jerusalem with his young family, making the required offering to redeem and consecrate a firstborn son. Entering the temple courtyard they are greeted by an old man, eyes blazing with a holy fire. He wants to hold this baby and none other, so Mary transfers Jesus carefully into the aged arms. Trembling, the old man gazes at the child he holds. What treasure! Tears course down his face and into his white beard as he raises his voice to heaven.
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
Simeon’s prayer is one of grateful thanksgiving. As a conduit of the Spirit of God, he speaks of a prophecy fulfilled, a promise realized, a salvation prepared for all people. He sees beyond the simple garb of the baby’s parents; they bring the lesser sacrifice of pigeons because they cannot afford a lamb. Simeon’s aged, watery eyes see in this child salvation for mankind, glory for the people Israel, and light for a world of people God wants to bless. He holds in his arms God incarnate, Immanuel.
“Now dismiss your servant in peace”, he prays. Nothing greater in life can compare; he has held the Christ of God and he is ready for the Holy One to take him home.
Simeon’s prayer has something for us today. It reminds us that God is faithful. His promises are given so that we will take them seriously. We, like old Simeon, will only have eyes to see His Treasure as we ponder His promises and wait. Breathless, hopeful faith, the kind that puts all ones eggs in one basket is the kind of faith we must set before ourselves. The promises involving Jesus are many. We need to become obsessed with them, ponder them, praying for their fulfillment in our lives. Then we, like the shepherds, like Mary and Joseph, and like the old man Simeon, will honour Jesus as the greatest treasure of all time and beyond.
We bless you, Sovereign Lord, for keeping your promise to us. Thank you for giving us the priceless gift of Jesus. He is truly our salvation, the light of revelation and of glory. This is Your treasure, Your Christmas gift to us. Thank you.