Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod, the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him.” —Matthew 2:1-2
18 Dec, 2020
The word ‘selah’ throughout Scripture is used as an exclamation mark at the end of a verse to help us pause and reflect on its meaning. Today, in day 18 of our Christmas devotional series we are resting on Matthew 2:1-2. Selah.
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by Chrishan Jeyaratnam
We’ve had a lot of practice at waiting this year, haven’t we? Waiting for borders to be opened to see loved ones. Waiting for the threat of sickness to pass. Waiting for communities to be able to gather again, celebrate again, embrace again.
The first Christmas arrived after a long time of waiting.
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. —Luke 2:25
For Simeon it had been a lifetime of waiting, and for the people it had been 400 years since the prophet Malachi. Days after the birth of Jesus, Simeon is led by the Spirit to the exact place at the exact moment that Jesus’ parents were walking with Him through the enormous temple complex.
Simeon takes Jesus in his arms (in my imagination somewhat of a “Simba moment”) and speaks words that amaze and bless Mary and Joseph. Then Anna, a widower, also of great age, comes and praises God and begins to speak about Jesus to all who had been waiting.
So how do we wait well?
Simeon hadn’t just waited; he’d waited with the Spirit resting on him. Anna hadn’t just waited; she’d waited and worshipped. And of all the places, in all the world, the Spirit leads them to the place in the temple where Jesus is. They are led by the Spirit, speak words prompted by the Spirit, and see what God is doing through eyes illuminated by the Spirit.
It’s no easy task to recognise the Saviour in swaddling, the King of kings as a kid, the Messiah in a manger, but perhaps with the Spirit we can recognise in seed what God is doing to save. We wait with the Spirit and with worship.
The encounter with Simeon and Anna isn’t just for their sakes. It amazes and blesses Mary and Joseph, as well as others who had been waiting.
The approach of Christmas this year has made me think of all the Simeons and Annas in our world, and all we sometimes miss as we hurry past in the temple.
I called my beloved Great Aunty Atto this week and had to come to terms with the realisation that, while I wait for borders to open, the last time I get to see her would be digitally. I wrote down what she prayed over me, what she prophesied about my future, what she spoke to bless me. I treasure those prayers and those words.
This story of the birth of Jesus is filled with men and women of wisdom.
The wise of great age, whose words are spoken over Jesus and Mary and Joseph. The wise who come seeking the newborn under the Bethlehem star.
I pray that both wisdoms would be ours this Christmas: the wisdom of the old, and the wisdom of the newborn in the manger. The wisdom of waiting well, and the wisdom of recognising God’s greatest gift.
As N. T. Wright wrote in The Climax of the Covenant: “Everything one might hope to gain through possessing wisdom can be gained rather by possessing Christ.”
Dear Jesus, Help me to seek out your wisdom and understanding in every journey I face. Help me to find it hidden in your Word, your ways, and your wonderful presence. That all my days, I will dwell in your house forever. Amen
Chrishan Jeyaratnam and his much better half, Danielle, are the Campus Pastors at Hillsong Perth. Chrishan has grown up in Hillsong Church since he was around seven and Danielle since her senior years in high school. They have four beautiful, cheeky, and headstrong daughters, and as a family are committed to loving God and people and living the adventure that it is to build His Church.
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Make a phone call to your grandmother or someone from your church who is your senior. Ask them to tell you a story about Christmas from their childhood.
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