Following Jesus • 27 / Great expectations

Read This: Matthew 3:11-12; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:15-18

Why did so many people flock to John? Because they longed for God — and God had been silent for a long time (Day 8).

Except for that blip thirty years earlier. There had been talk of a great King (Day 19). Angels appearing to shepherds to announce His birth (Day 14). Magi from the east coming to worship him (Day 20). Simeon and Anna prophesying over a baby in the temple (Day 17). And Zechariah the priest, John’s own father, also receiving an angelic visit to prepare him for John’s miraculous birth . . . and calling (Day 11).

Now that same John was preaching in God’s name, stirring hearts, and bringing conviction.

Naturally, the people were expectant. They discussed the Messiah, wondering if it might be John. But John said no. Then, he told them how to recognize the Messiah when He did come:

  • I’m baptizing with water for repentance. The Messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (as only God can do, and as prophesied in Joel 2:28, Ezekiel 36:25-26, and Malachi 3:1-3).
  • He will be so much greater than me that I am not even worthy to remove his sandals (a menial task performed by the lowest servants).
  • He will wield God’s authority to judge between the righteous and the wicked — something no mere man is qualified to do.

Then John explained God’s plan for their salvation.

Everything John said prepared the people to meet their Messiah. The One who would deliver them from a fate far worse than Roman rule. The Messiah would deliver them from their separation from God.

Following Jesus • 18 / He Knew Jesus Before He Met Him

Read This: Luke 2:28-38 

Imagine you’re fascinated by the end times. You spend years studying Daniel, Revelation, and all the other prophetic books. As your understanding grows, you see what’s coming. You understand how world events are lining up for history’s finale.

One day God’s Spirit directs you to a certain place. He reveals that you’ll witness a key event in the final countdown. And so it happens. You show up, you see the beginning of the end, and you explain its meaning to everyone you meet.

That’s how it was for Simeon. He didn’t just know Jesus was the Messiah. He knew everything about Him. For example, he knew . . .

  • Jesus would bring light to people of Galilee.
  • Jesus would bring salvation. Not just to the Jews, but to all people from every nation.
  • There would be a price to pay. By shining light into the darkness, the evil of men’s hearts would be exposed.
  • Though the Gentiles would be saved, many of the Jews would oppose, deny, speak against, contradict, and reject Jesus.
  • The Jews’ violent rejection of Jesus would cause Mary, His mother, great pain.

Simeon knew what was coming. The Old Testament revealed the time, place, and purpose of Jesus’ coming — and Simeon knew all of it. His remarks amazed Mary and Joseph, and confirmed yet again that theirs was no ordinary child. He was the Messiah, God’s salvation for all people.

[See also: Isaiah 8:14; 42:6; 45:25; 46:13; 49:6,9; 52:10; 60:3; Psalm 98:2]

Following Jesus • 17 / The Old Man

Read This: Luke 2:25-28 

Picture Mary and Joseph as a young couple leaving town for the big city. It’s time to dedicate their baby at the Temple.

As they make their way through the crowds, an elderly man approaches them and reaches out to hold their Baby. The man is Simeon, and he has a reputation.

Simeon is known to everyone as righteous and devout. He doesn’t just keep the law — he understands its meaning. Simeon has weighed God’s claims and believes in Him.

Simeon is also a man of action. He’s spent his life searching the Scriptures, scrutinizing every prophecy pointing to the promised One. He isn’t just waiting for the Messiah, he’s watching for Him.

Luke tells us the Holy Spirit is on Simeon. No wonder — the man is alive for God. One day, the Spirit reveals to Simeon that he will not die until he has met the Messiah. The language used in this passage implies interaction. Simeon is seeking God, and this is God’s response.

That’s why Simeon is in the Temple on this day reaching for Mary’s Baby. God told him now is the time and this is the One. Jesus is the Messiah.