Experience Christmas is a 19-day devotional series based on the Scriptural narrative and aimed at creating space during a beautiful, but hectic time of year to wonder at the miracle of Christmas. You’re joining us on day fourteen, with music from Pentatonix and a devotional that peers just beyond the manger.
Watch & Listen
Like any new parent Mary and Joseph have begun to settle into something that resembles a routine with their newborn son. Nearing forty days a family, they make preparations for a journey to Jerusalem where they will present Jesus to the Lord, as was the custom of their people.
While the excitement of the Angels and Shepherds has subsided, the wonders of this Child do not cease to amaze Mary and Joseph. Standing in the comings and goings of the bustling temple courts they are singled out by a godly man Simeon, who recognizes their Child for who He really is.
I can see Simeon gasp with knowing, extending his hand to take Jesus up in his arms, a hesitant Mary looking to Joseph for reassurance. This stranger, asking for their baby knows only what God could have told him, and so Jesus passes from mother to prophet.
Simeon holds this Child, maybe with tears streaming down his face, and marvels at the faithfulness of God. Perhaps Mary and Joseph share a smile of knowing. Perhaps the heavy beating of their hearts confirm to them that God is present in this meeting.
Simeon looks from Child to parents and speaks a word of blessing over them. He then locks eyes with Mary and prophesies.
“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
– Luke 2:34b-35 NIV
Mary’s breath catches.
A sword will pierce my soul?
Her heart begins to pound in time to the questions now swirling through her mind.
Why? How? What exactly do you mean?
Frantically she scans her memory for anything she can connect to the initial message of the Angel.
“The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And He will reign over Israel forever; his kingdom will never end.”
– Luke 1:32-33 NLT
The Angel said nothing about a sword to her soul. Mary is sure. Before she can ask Simeon what he could possibly mean, they are greeted by another divinely informed visitor. The prophetess Anna, exclaims with excitement at the sight of God’s promised Son, and begins telling the people around them about the promised Child now present in their midst.
The questions in Mary’s heart are never voiced in the excitement at the temple.
We don’t know how she processed this word from Simeon, but I am sure it stuck fast in her heart. With the amount of supernatural occurrences she’s become accustomed to, this word could not have been taken lightly. Mary’s been given the first glimpse of life beyond the manger for herself – for her Son – and I wonder if it’s what she had expected.
When you read through the Gospels of Jesus’ life and ministry beyond the manger, He is often misunderstood by the people who think they know who Messiah will be, what He will do, and how He will change the world. In the world that He was born, to the people He was born to, there is an expectation that Messiah will come to free them from the power that Rome has over their lives.
But Jesus’ purpose was so much bigger than Israel, and so much greater than Rome. Here, within the first weeks of His arrival, Mary is already warned that her life, and her Son’s, will not progress according to her own expectations. Jesus came to the manger to walk toward the cross.
A Savior, not like the Savior they expected.
Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
– Isaiah 53:4-5 NIV
- What kind of Savior have you expected Christ to be?
- How does your expectations of Christ line up with the truth of what we find in the Bible?
Pray that God would reveal to you the truth of Christ’s coming and His purpose in your life.
Jesus help us to lay aside what we think we know of you, what we expect from you, and come to you with a heart hungry to know who you really are and what you want to do in our lives. Thank you that you came for more than the manger. Help us to grasp the bigger picture of your story for us and in us.
For a complete list of devotional posts visit the Experience Christmas series page. Sign up to receive posts directly via email by completing the online subscription form and join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #ExperienceChristmasDevotional.