REFLECTION: What Christmas teaches us about mission

The waiting is over

In Luke 2 we read of the first Christmas; prophecy was fulfilled, Jesus was born. He was worshipped by shepherds and called Lord. Now forty days after His birth while being presented at the temple, we hear the prayer of Simeon, a godly man who had been patiently waiting for the arrival of his Saviour.

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32 (ESV)

Through this prayer we can sense joy and excitement as Simeon recognises Jesus as the promised Messiah. Up until this point, God’s covenant relationship had been enjoyed by the people of Israel but now Jesus had come to extend this to the Gentiles. We can often take Christmas for granted, but when we think of that first Christmas in the grand scheme of history, this is something for us to rejoice in. Jesus came to reveal the loving, covenant-keeping God to the Gentiles. To us. To people from every nation.

From the temple to the cross

Later in the passage, we see Simeon also warning Mary of the pain that awaits her as a result of witnessing the future sufferings of Christ. It is a sober reminder to us today too. Although Christmas is a beautiful reality with tremendous good news, it is not a message without difficulty and challenge. Actively following Jesus in this world requires sacrifice.

Christmas is a reminder of our eternal blessings, but also points to our present-day challenge of picking up our cross in our daily walk with Him.

Stirred to praise and proclaim

Simeon knew when he saw this baby at just forty days old that a journey with the Saviour would be both beautiful and costly. I think his prayer encourages us to have an eternal missional perspective. It stirs us to celebrate the meaning of Christmas for us as Gentiles, reminds us to pray for those people groups yet to hear about the God who saves, and challenges us to truly follow Christ despite hardships and trials.

May our prayers this Christmas be full of the same joy and excitement as we declare that Jesus is Lord of the nations. May it move us to pray for those nations that are yet to hear this good news!

Written by a Pioneers worker reaching the unreached in the UK & Ireland

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