Looking for something at Christmas?
Christmas shopping is all about looking. Some people enjoy hours spent browsing around shops considering lots of different options before finalising their purchase. Others arrive at a pre-determined shop with a clear idea of the present they are going to buy and ten focussed minutes later have completed the task. Others look around and conclude, ‘I can’t see anything so they’ll end up with a voucher!’
In the Christmas story we encounter a number of people who are looking for something.
The shepherds: Looking at sheep
We meet the shepherds in Luke’s account with ‘In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flocks by night’ (Luke 2:8). The shepherds spent their lives looking out for the sheep which were in their care. For them looking was their job. The description of what they were doing that night was simply a description of what they always did. On Christmas night they weren’t looking for anything in particular. They had no expectations of anything out of the ordinary. They were simply looking at the everyday, the normal.
That was suddenly shattered as first an angel and then a whole multitude of angels appeared, proclaiming that they needed to go to Bethlehem to look for a Saviour who had just been born.
Their everyday looking had not prepared them for this! God invaded their routine sheep-watching and caused them to look for something else.
The magi: Looking for a sign
The magi were star-gazers, astronomers who spent time looking at the sky trying to interpret what they saw. They were on the lookout for changes, differences to their normal view, things which were not usually there.
One night they saw a sign: ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east’ (Matthew 2:2). This was it! This is what they had been looking for. Something different was in view. They thought that a new king of a nation had been born and they decided to visit.
Of course, they were half right! Jesus was the King of the Jews. What they didn’t realise is that the sign pointed to One who would be King of all Kings. They had seen the sign of a baby who would change the course of history.
Simeon: Looking for salvation
Simeon enters the Christmas story eight days after Jesus has been born: ‘There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel.’ (Luke 2:25). Simeon was a man on the lookout. Every day he came into the Temple looking for a sign of the salvation of Israel. God had promised that he would see this before he died and so he looked.
Simeon knew exactly what he was looking for. He was not consumed by a view of the everyday things around him and neither was he vaguely looking for a sign of some sort. Instead he was looking for a specific sign which would indicate that the salvation of the nation was at hand. He was looking with purpose and focus.
And one day he saw Him! ‘Then he took Jesus into His arms, and blessed God, and said,… ‘For my eyes have seen your salvation’ (Luke 2:28, 30).
The shepherds were not looking for anything and God intervened and showed them Jesus.
The magi were looking for a sign of some sort and God intervened and showed them Jesus.
Simeon was looking for the salvation of Israel and for revelation to the Gentiles and God intervened and showed him Jesus!
What are you looking for?
This Christmas people will be looking for all sorts of things.
Some will be consumed by the everyday with no expectations beyond the ordinary.
Some will be looking for a sign of some sort, searching for meaning in life, hoping that they will glimpse of something deeper and more satisfying.
Others will be looking out for Jesus. They will know exactly what they hope to see but just haven’t set eyes on Him yet.
In the Christmas story the shepherds, the magi and Simeon all end up gazing upon Jesus, the Saviour of the world, and worshipping Him.
What are you looking for this Christmas?
Why not let Jesus consume your vision?
Our Jubilee Church Christmas Celebration is at 4pm on Sunday 17th December at Jago House. It will be a mixture of contemporary and traditional songs, a relevant message from the Bible and refreshments with a festive twist. We would love to see you there.