The choice before everyone is whether to turn towards Jesus or away from him

Jonathan Rowe, 5 February 2023

Hebrews 2: 14–18; Luke 2: 22–40

Do you like waiting for things? No? Well, I’m not surprised. Waiting for things can be hard work. But I wonder if it’s as hard as the waiting that emperor penguins have to do. They stand on the ice with an egg on their feet waiting for the chick to hatch while the blizzard blows.

How long do you think they have to wait? 140 days! In the cold. They lose 40% of their body weight.

Waiting can be hard work. Our Bible reading this morning tells us about someone who had been waiting a long time. The sort of waiting that Simeon did was not like waiting for a bus – let’s see if it comes or not. He wanted to see God do a new thing. He was waiting expectantly: he was on tiptoes, anticipating good news. I wonder if that’s how emperor penguins wait.

Simeon’s waiting teaches us something important about us and God. Because what we want affects what we see. So, here’s a question for you; it’s a question that we can answer whatever our age: ‘Do you want to see God?’

Here’s a question for you: ‘Do you want to see God?’

How much can we see if we close our eyes tightly? Not much! Now open your eyes. It may seem obvious, but if we want to see, we need to open our eyes.

Simeon had his eyes open; he was on the lookout. And then he saw Jesus. He recognised that this baby was different from all the other babies that people brought to be blessed in the Temple. He saw in Jesus the big picture of God’s presence and rescue.

It’s in Jesus that we, too, can see God most clearly. We can choose to open our eyes or turn away. Just as Simeon realised that some people would react to Jesus positively, some negatively, the choice before everyone is whether to turn towards Jesus or away from him.

Turning towards Jesus means getting to know him. How does one get to know someone? By being with them, by seeing what they do, by listening to them. This is how we get to know someone. And it’s the same with getting to know Jesus.

  • Speak to him – we call this prayer.
  • Listen to him – we call this reading the Bible.
  • See what he does in your life and that of those around you – we call this living together as the Church.

Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. Simeon shows us all that we need to want to see Jesus, that we need to keep our eyes open, and get to know him. And that’s something we don’t need to wait to do. Amen.