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Advent Dec 25: One Day We Will See His Face

• Meredith Geldmeier

Posted in Advent, Devotions

Before we hear from Meredith below, I would like to thank the many contributors to this blog series on Advent. You have all helped us see different facets of the coming of Christ and what it means to us and to all humanity. Thank you!


Reading for Christmas Day: Luke 2:22-38

Reflection: One Day We Will See His Face

In the European gallery at the art museum, I found myself alone in a silent maze of carpet and dimly-lit pictures. I was surrounded by depictions of Christ on every side, each one different. As I stood there in the stillness, I heard the words Jesus spoke to his disciples in Matthew 16:14, "Who do you say that I am?"

Each artist represented on the gallery walls had a personal interpretation, a mental image, of the person of Jesus. Over the centuries, they’d thrown the full weight of their skill into creating this image, wrestling with poor oil and pigment to convey the mystery of God become man.

Who do you say that I am?

There have been and still are many renditions of Jesus—but only one answer to this question. No matter how much we want to believe in our politically correct or self-gratifying or romanticized or modernized Jesuses, there is only one Jesus who is real. Only one Jesus broke bread at his family’s table; breathed the sawdust-filled air of a workshop; washed days of dirt from his feet; felt nails split the nerves in his wrists.

We cannot walk with any but the living Jesus—we must accept him as he is.

Simeon did.

He was one of a people who had waited hundreds of years for their consolation, passing down the prophecies of the Messiah from generation to generation. By Simeon’s time, did these ancient words seem like myths that would never come true? When would the promised hero ride in? The Jews must have cherished their own images of the great Messiah: strong warrior, politically powerful, glamorous ruler, perhaps....

But not a baby.

Yet the Spirit had opened the eyes of true believers like Simeon and Anna to look on a lowly, helpless, ordinary child, and see their savior: as he was, as unexpected as that was. And they praised God. They didn’t concern themselves with the form of the fulfilled promise but rejoiced without questioning.

Simeon’s life had been a conversation with the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob—a God who had a history of making miracles from the improbable, who always provided perfectly...and surprisingly. He knew the God who, when the Israelites hungered in the desert, said, “I will rain bread” (Ex. 16:4). Unconstrained by his own aesthetic vision, Simeon trusted that this baby in his arms was salvation. Not just for Israel, but for “all people” (Luke 2:31).

When Simeon saw Jesus, he praised God because his eyes had seen God’s salvation. As one commentary notes, to see Jesus is to see salvation embodied in him. His person is inseparable from his work. To other Jews in the temple that day, Jesus was just what he looked like—a plain Jewish baby being presented like every other first-born son. Temple-goers saw his parents offering sacrifices according to Jewish custom like everyone else, not understanding that this baby would one day be offered for them.

This Christmas Day we celebrate Jesus, who came among us to show us who he really was and is. We rejoice that, like Simeon and Anna, our own eyes have been opened to the truth. We marvel with Mary, Joseph, Simeon, and Anna at the mystery of this living savior. And finally, we look forward to the day we leave behind the world with its gallery of gods to see the Messiah face to face.

What an awesome promise: to see the real face of Jesus, to know fully, even as we are fully known. No longer will we see him as through cloudy glass or be tempted to create him in our image.

We’ve spent 25 days meditating on the story of this baby who reveals the thoughts of our hearts, but also consoles us and brings us the light of revelation. Though the Christmas season is soon over for another year, may this revelation continue to teach us ever more about who Jesus is: the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). And may we, like Anna, give thanks to God and speak of him to all who are still waiting for redemption.

Meredith Geldmeier

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