Expectations of Christmas
There is a lot of hype to the holidays. How can we prevent ourselves from being disappointed?
How can we ensure that this Christmas season will live up to our expectations?
We buy presents; we attend numerous parties.
We travel to see our relatives.
We stress ourselves out building up for that one climactic day each year, and then it is over.
If we were honest, we would admit that most of the time Christmas never lives up to our expectations.
For many the season will be disappointing.
There was a young mother who was having a bad day.
Her phone rang and a kindly voice on the other end said, "How are you, sweetheart?
What kind of day are you having?"
"Oh, Mother," said the woman, "I'm having such a bad day.
The baby won't eat.
The washing machine broke down.
The house is a mess.
I haven't had a chance to go Christmas shopping, and we're having two couples over for dinner tonight."
The mother was overwhelmed with sympathy.
"Oh, honey," she said, "sit down, relax, and close your eyes.
I'll be over in half an hour.
You can go shopping.
I'll clean the house and cook your dinner for you.
I'll feed the baby, and I'll call a repairman to fix the washing machine.
Now stop crying. I'll do everything.
"And I'll even call John at the office, and ask him to come home and help out."
"John?" said the housewife. "Who's John?"
"Why, John! Your husband!...
Isn't this 555-1265?"
"No, it's 555-1264."
"Oh" said the kindly person, "I must have the wrong number."
There was a pause.
Then the young mother asked, "Does this mean you're not coming over?"
We must place our expectations in the Lord.
Instead of being caught up in the hectic days, focus on Christ.
Treat this season as holy.
Seek to deepen your relationship with Christ and He will meet your every expectations.
Our Scripture passage tells of two people who saw their greatest expectations fulfilled.
Let's examine the great expectations of the first Christmas and then examine some ways
to put our expectations on Jesus for this Christmas season.
Expectations of the first Christmas is seen in the circumcision of Jesus.
"Eight days" after Jesus' birth in the stable in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph
brought Him to be circumcised.
This was a sign of God's covenant relationship with Israel as given to Abraham in Genesis.15.
Jesus was circumcised according to the Mosaic Law.
A Jewish male was to be circumcised according to the law.
At the time of circumcision a male child also was given his name.
According to the words of the angel, His name was to be Jesus.
The name, "Jesus," is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament name, Joshua.
It means "Saviour."
Prov.18:10 says, "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe."
The law also stated in Lev.12 that a woman had to wait an additional 33 days until "the days
of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed."
Then, she could go into the temple.
So, Mary and Joseph brought the infant, Jesus, to Jerusalem, to the temple "to present Him
to the Lord" as their first-born Son.
We have a similar practice today when we dedicate our newborns to the Lord.
The law also said that a sacrifice was to be offered -- specifically a "lamb."
However, Lev.12:8 says, "And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring
two turtledoves or two young pigeons."
Mary "was not able to bring a lamb."
Jesus was born in poverty.
In contemporary terms, He would not have owned a Playstation.
He could not afford the gadgets that children have today.
He lived in a poor man's house, ate a poor man's food, and wore a poor man's clothes.
In verses 25-26 we see descriptions of "a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon."
Simeon was an ordinary man.
His name was a common name.
He held no prestigious position.
Of all the characters in the Christmas story, he represents us.
Simeon is described as "just."
The Greek word means, "equitable, fair, right."
Simeon was a good and decent man just trying to get by.
One scholar described the meaning of this word as "He behaved well toward people."
Simeon is also described as "devout."
He was very serious about his relationship with God.
He was a godly man.
The word also has the meaning of "cautious or careful."
He was probably an older man who had seen so much in his lifetime.
Simeon was "waiting for the Consolation of Israel."
For 400 years, since the closing of the Old Testament period, heaven had been silent.
God had not spoken.
These were dark days.
However, Simeon was holding on to God's promise of a deliverer, a redeemer, the Messiah
who would come to bring peace.
"Consolation" means "to come alongside to comfort."
It comes from the same word that describes the Holy Spirit as our Comforter.
"He was waiting for the time when God would take away Israel's sorrow."
It is also said of Simeon, "the Holy Spirit was upon him."
The Spirit of God was working in Simeon.
Then, we are told that part of the Spirit's promise to Simeon was to reveal "that he
would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ."
God had said to him, "You will not die until your old eyes have beheld my Son,
your Savior in the flesh."
Can you imagine how Simeon would look into the faces of strangers, and ask the Lord,
"Will I see him today? Could this be the one?"
Everyone knew of the prophecy, but there had been no word from God for so long.
People stopped hoping.
They were consumed with the drudgery of their everyday lives.
But this was not so with Simeon!
One day "the Spirit" led Simeon to the temple at the same time
Mary and Joseph had come to offer their sacrifice and present Jesus to the Lord God.
When Simeon's eyes fell on the baby Jesus, he knew who He was.
We don't know what he said to Mary or if, he said anything at all.
We do know "he took Him in his arms."
Imagine the emotions that must have flooded his soul!
He held the Anointed One in his arms.
He held God in his arms!
At that very moment Simeon "blessed God."
He said that he could die now and "depart in peace."
He was ready to die.
God's promise had been fulfilled "according to Your [His] word."
He says, "I have seen Your salvation."
He knew that the baby Jesus was his salvation.
God had prepared Jesus before the world was created.
This Savior would be revealed to all humanity.
Simeon calls Jesus "a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles."
As God said to Abraham in Genesis12:3, in Him "all the families of the earth
shall be blessed."
Thank God, Jesus is not just the Savior of the Jews.
He is the "Sun of Righteousness" and the "Star" to come out of "Jacob."
He is the "Dayspring... to give light to those who sit in darkness." Simeon saw Him dawn!
As Simeon "blessed God," Joseph and Mary marveled.
Then he "blessed them."
It was common in Jewish culture and in the early church to bless people.
Simeon prophesied, "This Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel."
Many would stumble over Him but many would be lifted up.
He would be "a sign which will be spoken against."
He said to Mary, "A sword will pierce through your own soul also."
There were many times when she would remember those words.
Surely, she heard them again at the cross.
As Simeon finished speaking, an old woman named "Anna" came up to them.
She had been widowed for seven years.
She had spent those years serving God.
She "did not depart from the temple."
She served the Lord with "fasting and prayers both "night and day."
In the instant of Simeon's greatest joy, she "gave thanks to the Lord"
and "spoke of Him [Jesus] to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem."
Both Simeon and Anna "looked for" -- had great expectations.
Their expectations were fulfilled in Jesus that day!
If our expectations are on Jesus, we will never be disappointed.
Simeon was an ordinary man with an extraordinary spirit.
Unlike the other people of his day, he was not consumed with the hustle and bustle of daily life.
He was expecting something better from the Lord.
Someone once said, "We all live under the same sky but we don't all have
the same horizon."
Having the right spirit is so important.
If we go into this season expecting what we can find in the glitter and glamour of the season,
then that is probably all we are going to have.
If we expect something more, if we expect to have a deeper walk with Christ, then we will have
We go to all the trouble to get ready for Christmas, and then it is all over in a matter of a few minutes.
Some people would like for Christmas to last all year.
Someone wrote: "Anyone who doesn't think Christmas lasts all year doesn't have credit cards."
I read about two men who decided to go sailing while their wives went Christmas shopping.
A terrible storm came up and tossed the boat back and forth across the water way off course.
The tiny sailboat was forced upon the shore of a small island.
Hostile natives attacked them with poisonous darts.
As they crouched behind the boat, one man said to the other, "I realize that today
hasn't exactly gone as planned, but this sure beats Christmas shopping, doesn't it?"
Making Christmas last isn't about shopping, gifts or decorations.
Christmas is an attitude.
Remember how Simeon held the blessed Baby Jesus in his arms.
What joy must have overcome him!
It was the greatest moment of his life!
We can't hold Jesus in our arms, but we can hold Him in our hearts.
Jesus said in Rev.3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."
What a wonderful time of year to throw open the door of your heart and embrace Jesus!
Simeon held Jesus for a few moments, but we can hold Him forever.
Rom.8:39 says nothing will "separate us from the love of God which is
in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Simeon held Jesus in his arms, and then he departed in peace -- that is, he died.
People are seeking peace.
Jesus is the "Prince of Peace."
He gives us peace with God and the peace of God.
Simeon prophesied that Jesus would be "a light to bring revelation."
Jesus is the "Light of the world."
For some, Christmas may be a dark time, lonely time.
Maybe it brings back painful memories.
Maybe it accentuates the pain of a death or a divorce.
John.1:5 says Jesus is "the light" that "shines in darkness."
If you will open the door of your heart and embrace Him, your holiday will be a holy day,
and Christmas will never be the same.
She immediately went out and "spoke of Him" to everyone who
"looked for redemption."
She shared the good news with those who were ready to hear it.
There are people all around us who are looking for redemption.
They need hope.
They need peace.
They need Jesus!
They may not even know it.
Share your joy this season.
After unwrapping all of her presents, a little girl was asked, "Did you get everything
you wanted for Christmas?"
She thought for a moment and said, "No! But then, it's not my birthday."
It is the birthday of our Saviour, and He is the greatest giver.
He will give you all you will ever need for today and tomorrow and for all eternity.
To have the best Christmas ever, just open the door of your heart, and invite Jesus to come
and live there forever!
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White