After the resurrection, Jesus did not go back to his father right away. Instead, he chose to stay on the earth for 40 days. During this period, he came to visit his disciples. Why?
First of all, he came for peace. At that time, the disciples were afraid of Jews who arrested and killed Jesus. It seems the fear came from outside. However, the basic reason of their fear is that they lost their faith in Jesus and they forgot who Jesus was. Even though Jesus already told them he would rise again and a few women and disciples met risen Jesus, it is really hard to believe that Jesus would resurrect. Therefore, Jesus came to give them peace by proving his resurrection.
Moreover, Jesus came to send his disciples to the world. They were there already, yet they were not aware that they were sent. Jesus said, 'As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' Jesus was sent so he lived according to the will of the one who sent him. Now Jesus is sending them, which means they were supposed to live by the will of Jesus. As the disciples of Jesus, we are sent by Jesus, so we are to live by his will. How do we know it? Through his words and prayer. If we live like this, we can have unshakable hope, because our citizenship is in heaven, and we live in heaven by standing on the earth. And this hope allows us to be strong in afflictions.
Another reason Jesus came to visit is to give them Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. Jesus promised that he would be with them always, and to accomplish his promise Holy Spirit comes and dwells in all Christians at the same time. And verse 23 talks about the church's authority. With Holy Spirit and church, all his disciples were able to keep the sense that they were sent and lived out by the will of Jesus. Now that same job remains in us. Let us follow their footsteps!
God gives graces according to his own will. And when he gives us grace in times of our needs upon our requests, it surely is grace. However, there are times that God gives grace apart from our will. We can call it 'Persistent Grace.' And this is the Mary's case in our passage. She never asked for it, or she did not even think about it, yet one day God sent an angel to her to deliver his message.
What the angel told her first was that she have found favor with God. And the reason is that she will give birth to the Messiah. To us who knows the result, it is a great favor. However, to Mary in that situation, it is a scary news than a good news, because she never knew how Joseph or her family would react. It was hard to see that as a good news from the beginning.
So Mary asked the angel that how could that be? She was trying to give a best objection indirectly. And angel answered to that not by giving her logical reasons to persuade her, but by pointing out God's power. Now this became a faith issue rather than an scientific or logical issue. And Mary responded with faith and accepted this grace, and became a woman who have found favor with God.
It is same to us. Sometimes God gives us persistent grace apart from our will and plan. But even though we may have to take a risk or even give up our best plans, we can trust God who is gracious and powerful. Christmas is a great example. No one dare to ask God to send his son for us. Yet, God sent Jesus to be born for us. This is the strong evidence that we can accept God's persistent grace with faith.
There are two kinds of waiting. One is empty waiting which means there's nothing that we can get from waiting. Waiting for unpleasant guest or waiting the result of unprepared test could be the example. The other waiting is an expectant waiting. It is a waiting with full of hope and expectation. And Christians are supposed to wait for Jesus' return. And this season of advent is a good time for us to remind ourselves of it.
There are three characteristics in expectant waiting from our passage. First is that we can wait expectantly when we wait for something sure. Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel. Under the Rome in the period of Pax Romana, he was not satisfied with his situation. Rather he hoped for his people's comfort which was based on the words of God. And because he held onto the words of God, which is the most sure, he was able to wait firmly. It is like waiting for an item its payment was already made.
Secondly, expectant waiting affects on our attitudes to our life. If you are waiting something that is going to happen 100%, you are to prepare for it. It affects your current life. If you are going to eat out with your friend in 30 minutes, you won't eat dinner. Your future plan affects your current life. And Simeon was waiting for Jesus' birth expectantly, he lived a righteous and devout life. Unborn Jesus affected his life. However, those who were with him at that time was not affected by the unborn Christ. In the parable of Talents, those who received 5 and 2 waited their master with hard working life because they knew their master would come. On the other hand, the one who received one Talent waited his master in the time-wise, yet his waiting was an empty.
Third, if we wait for something expectantly, we can get two fruits. One is growth, and the other is joy. Simeon waited Christ for a long time and during the time of waiting he was able to grow enough to be led by Holy Spirit, to recognize the baby Jesus, and to be able to grasp what Jesus would do. It was not for the Israel only, but also for the whole nation. And also he was filled with joy because he waited expectantly, while others did not even recognize the baby.