December 17, 2023
Dr. Paul Cannings
“Sometimes Christmas gifts are real surprises. Maybe you’ve had that experience. As a kid, I wanted a basketball so bad I could scream. I dropped all kinds of hints. I made false phone calls to my mother in another voice, telling her that her son really ought to have a basketball. I found the cheapest prices. I dropped those on the breakfast table. You know all those things. And finally, a box appeared under the Christmas tree, which looked just the size of a basketball. Whew! I could just feel myself making shots with it. Christmas Day came. I tore into that thing! And it was a world globe. Have you ever tried to dribble a world globe? I mean, you can’t even inflate the dumb thing. Unbelievable surprise! Didn’t look at all like what I expected!” (Chuck Swindoll)
Jesus was a surprise to the Jews. He did not come wrapped in the gift paper they expected. At one point, they even asked these questions; “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? (Matt 13:54-55) “They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, “I have come down out of heaven?” (John 6:42) As a result, He was rejected for a Messiah that has yet to come. The world wants a god that loves everybody. A god that puts all nice people in heaven, and only the really bad people go to hell. A god who would never allow any bad thing to happen to good people, and he blesses everyone who is nice. When God does anything different, He is a surprise and He is rejected.
“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child,
Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, ”Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according
to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence
of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
The natural eye saw a carpenter’s son, a man born to poor parents. A life controlled by the Holy Spirit, in the midst of a busy temple, saw Christ, the promised Messiah (1 Cor. 2:10-15). One person was surprised by the wondrous things Christ did or said; the other person, Simeon, was excited about a baby yet to do anything. It is impossible for the world to see Jesus no matter how great His works are (2 Cor. 4:4). This is why we should not wait for the world to understand or appreciate Christ. Believers should be excited like Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:36-38) because this season gives us hope of His future coming.