There is a man at my church, a very nice man, who doesn’t recognize me half the time. It’s become a bit comical because I know him pretty well. I know his lovely wife. I know his kids too. And whenever I don’t wear makeup to church, he walks right past me as if I’m in disguise. I’ll say “Hi!” and he’ll look at me like I’m a stranger until I remind him of my first name.
There are two reasons for this, I think:
- He doesn’t recognize me because I don’t fit his expectations. When people get older, bigger, smaller or made over or under, in my case, they no longer match the mental picture we have of them.
- He might have Prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness. If that’s really a thing. But since it’s on the internet, it must be real, right?
Face blindness reminds me of Simeon, an important player in the Christmas story, but for the opposite reason. You see, Simeon recognized Jesus when others did not.
The Jews back then were unhappy. They hadn’t heard from God for 400 years. They felt alone and abandoned, tyrannized under Roman oppression. They couldn’t wait for the Big Bad Messiah to ride in, kicking butt and taking names (Roman ones), and rescue them from their dire circumstances. In their minds the Messiah would be full grown, not to mention a great military leader who would restore Jerusalem, rebuild the Temple, and rule over the world in strength and power.
- The Jews expected a big Messiah therefore they missed God in the form of a little baby.
- The Jews expected a strong Messiah therefore they missed the fragile way He entered the world.
- The Jews expected a visible Messiah so they missed God’s quiet entrance through an unknown woman.
But Simeon was given eyes to see God and therefore recognized Jesus.
In the temple that day when “Mary and Joseph took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,” (Luke 2:22) Simeon recognized Jesus as the Lord’s Christ, took him in his arms (we hope with permission from the parents) and praised God saying,
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[a] your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32
This year I want to be like Simeon and not the Jews.
I want to see Jesus in His Season.
So I will focus on three things that Simeon saw: salvation, light, and glory.
I want to remember that Advent is about salvation, not vacation or even celebration. While I enjoy the parties and the time off with my kiddos, I will be blinded to Jesus if I don’t make salvation the focus. I’m praying for the helmet of salvation to guard our thoughts and minds and for the offer of salvation to be accepted by those who haven’t yet done so.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
I want every light that twinkles on my neighbor’s houses (since I couldn’t get around to it this year) to remind me of the light that Jesus offers to us all. I want to see the light that leads us me out of the darkness of my sin, weaknesses and wounds and pray for all those around me to see Him too.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus 8:12
Finally I want to make sure my mental picture of Jesus matches with the glory of who He really is. I want to make sure I don’t make Him too small, too nice, or too much like me, but instead I want to recognize Jesus in all His forms (baby, savior, and king) and see His glory all around me.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
How could you shift your focus to recognize Jesus this time of year?