The Women of Christmas: And Our Eyes at Last Shall See Him

The Women of Christmas Bible Study Blog | Liz Curtis Higgs

When God reached down from heaven with the best gift of all, people near and far took notice. Shepherds quaked. Angels sang. Mary pondered. And scholars from the east followed his star, bright and shining, leading them toward Jerusalem.

The mission of the Magi is our mission now: seek him, find him, worship him.

The Magi Follow His Star

Read Chapter Seven: And Our Eyes at Last Shall See Him
Read Matthew 2:1-12 and Luke 2:21–35

Most deluxe nativity sets include three wise men—no more, no less. Dressed in richly embroidered robes of burgundy and blue, these holy action figures bear gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh for the newborn king of the Jews.

When the real Magi of old appeared, searching for the Christ child, King Herod “became very agitated” (Matthew 2:3), and no wonder. Wasn’t he the king of Israel, by Rome’s decree?

Then the chief priests quoted the prophet Micah, telling Herod that out of Bethlehem would come “one who will be ruler over Israel” (Micah 2:5).

Trouble with a capital T, and in David’s hometown too.

Herod Meets with the Magi

Amid all the beauty of Christmas, it’s easy to forget this sobering truth: Jesus came to shake things up. His birth disturbed those who were wealthy and powerful, and gave hope to those who were poor and meek. Even at the start of things, when Jesus was growing in his mother’s womb, the Holy Spirit proclaimed through Mary, “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble” (Luke 1:52).

Herod was as eager as the Magi were to find this babe in swaddling clothes, but for entirely different reasons. Herod wanted to murder him. The Magi wanted to honor him.

These wise men followed his star until it stopped in Bethlehem “over the place where the child was” (Matthew 2:9). Right there. Can’t miss it.

The Magi Come Bearing Their Gifts

Herod bowed to no one. But these venerable wise men “bowed down and worshiped” (Matthew 2:11) the Holy One.

I’m pierced through as I type these words, letting the truth cut through my pretense. Who or what do I bow to? Who or what do I worship? Is it always the Lord? Or is it also success, however that’s defined? Is it Facebook friends, Twitter followers, best-seller lists? Is it counting numbers, instead of changing lives?

God doesn’t care about numbers. He cares about the attitude of our hearts and the honesty of our words, spoken and unspoken. He is concerned with our motives, and which direction we turn for approval. He wants our undivided attention and utter devotion.

Would I travel a thousand miles to worship his Son, as these Magi did?
Do I give generously, expecting nothing in return?

I don’t like my answers. God is even less impressed.

And yet—oh, beloved, don’t miss this mind-blowing truth—even though he knows all the ways in which we fail him, he loves us still.

"God is love"

I don’t know why, and I can’t explain how, except to say, God is faithful to his Word: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us”—reliable truth, with undeniable proof—“and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

He watched his Son die in agony so our sins would not be held against us. In God’s dictionary, this is love defined: not expensive presents under a fragrant fir, or costly gifts laid before a king, but a blameless child nailed to a leafless tree.

We may focus on the manger at Christmas and reserve the cross for Easter, but God had both in mind from the very beginning. Because he loves us. Because he came to earth to rescue us.

The innocent babe in Mary’s arms made all that possible.

Forty days after the Messiah was born, Mary and Joseph traveled to Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem for her purification rites. She offered what the law required—“a pair of doves or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:24)—but her greatest offering was the child she bore, long anticipated by a righteous man named Simeon.

Simeon with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus

The same Holy Spirit who’d poured prophetic words into Elizabeth and a holy seed into Mary also came upon Simeon (Luke 2:25), revealing that Simeon wouldn’t die until he’d seen the Lord’s Messiah (Luke 2:26), and prompting Simeon to move into the temple courts (Luke 2:27).

One look at the child, and Simeon gathered the boy in his embrace. Trusting of Mary, yes? She’d seen what the Holy Spirit could do, and recognized a kindred soul in this godly man.

Like so many of the main players in our story, Simeon opened his mouth and praised God (Luke 2:28), assuring the Lord he could now die in peace (Luke 2:29).

Again, that nudging of the Holy Spirit inside me. Could I die in peace this very night, having seen firsthand what our loving God can accomplish? Is my hold on this world as light as it should be? Is my gaze utterly fixed on eternity?

I hope so, I hope so, I hope so. Not terribly convincing, is it? Still, I am more aware each day that I’m one step closer to heaven.

Simeon was so certain of what God had in store for him, he could speak difficult truths to Mary without holding back: “And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:35). A word of preparation, rather than warning; spoken out of a longing to comfort, not a desire to wound.

In the same way, as we mature, we have more freedom to speak the words God places on our hearts. We are less worried about what others think of us, and more concerned with following God’s leading.

In the end, the only thing that matters is speaking the truth in love. Which brings us to Anna, our last woman of Christmas. Wait until you meet this sister! I truly have saved the best for last.

Simeon with Mary and Joseph

From the Study Guide

Once again the Holy Spirit played a quiet but significant part in the story, revealing to Simeon that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah. Would such knowledge fill you with hopeful anticipation or fearfulness and dread? How can you best prepare for the day you see your Savior face to face?

I know, I know. Who talks about death at Christmastime?! Well, Simeon did, in a matter-of-fact, bring-it-on kind of way. I’m not in any hurry to leave this world, but I am ready. Of course, I’d love if it happened quickly and painlessly. And at least thirty years from now. LOL. But I trust God to know what’s best for me and for those I love.

What really matters is the One who is waiting for us on the other side. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Honestly, I get goose bumps just thinking about it. However many years we spend on this earth, they are nothing compared to eternity. Oh, Father, let us be like Simeon, trusting you so completely with our past, present, and future that we can say, “You may now dismissyour servant in peace” (Luke 2:29).

Now it’s your turn

Two questions I hope you’ll consider:

  • Was there something in Chapter Seven that spoke to your heart?
  • How can you best prepare for the day you see your Savior face to face?

Please respond under Post a Comment below. Your answers are a blessing to me and everyone who reads them.

Look for our final post on The Women of Christmas early on New Year’s Eve. Until then, may your awareness of our Messiah—who he is and why he came—shape the days ahead in unexpected ways.

Your sister, Liz

Your Sister in Christ, Liz Curtis Higgs

Beginning January 2014 (SO excited about this!)

Your 50 Favorite Proverbs | 2014 | Liz Curtis Higgs


21 Responses to The Women of Christmas: And Our Eyes at Last Shall See Him

  1. Lawan Rivera December 27, 2013 at 6:03 am #

    Where you say “only when we are filled with the Holy Spirit can we see what matters to God” just really spoke to me. I need to be quiet and obedient. So simple yet so difficult for a stiff necked woman. He is changing me day by day!

    I think I can best prepare to see my creator by “seeing my creator now.” Meaning, getting to know Him better and better each day, obeying His commands, praising and worshipping Him.

    I wanted to mention how cool it is that just last night, before I went to bed, I finished a fictional book on the life of one of the Magi. It was such a neat story because it humanized the Magi. I had never given them much thought before.


  2. Marge December 27, 2013 at 6:27 am #

    Great question, how to prepare. I have thought about it for the past 15 min. And my final decision is ( i had many thoughts) i need to have a greater relationship with Jesus today then I did yesterday.

  3. Vickie December 27, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    I have enjoyed this Women of Chrostmas so much. I used your book on Sunday, December 22 in telling the Christmas story to my Women’s Sunday School Class. I incorporated the Advent candles to tell the events and highlighted the women that God ordained to change the world. Thank you for this and all your books…I am learning more and more about our Lord and the Wonder of His Love.

  4. Barbara December 27, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    I try to focus on his love for us. It helps me to love those unconditionally as he loves us. I pray for his strength and courage.

  5. Mary Lou December 27, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    The best way that I can prepare myself to see Him face to face… just as the others have stated. To become closer to Him each day, to be faithful to read His Word. To be far more vocal than I am to others about Him. As I have gotten older, I do tend to think of seeing Him much sooner than when in my 30’s or even 40’s and perhaps even my 50’s. Sometimes it is not so pleasant a thought. This reading has started me thinking along the right lines of seeking Him more and finding Him and truly worshiping Him.

    To me, the cross does not need to be left just to Easter. For to me, He came to die. IF He had NOT been born, He could not have died for our sins. I truly love the outdoor scenes at Christmas, which are a manger and a cross. To me that speaks the Gospel…..He came as a babe in a manger so that He might die on the Cross as a man to atone for my sins. He gave it ALL.

  6. Linda H December 27, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    “Miracles upon miracles”, how we miss them when we are not focused on the Lord. “Only when we’re filled with the Holy Spirit can we see what matters to God”. Oh I pray for new eyes and a heart open and cleared out to receive all that God wants me to see. When I focus my life on Him lifting my eyes up can I prepare to await His plans and see heaven!!!

  7. Julie December 27, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    A lighter touch in this world could alleviate a lot of pain and frustration and replace it with a hope and joy for what us possible to accomplish on earth with God’s partnership and grace.
    Thanks for the uplifting and beautiful article Liz!

    God Bless you : )

  8. Cheryl December 27, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    This spoke to me…”In the same way, as we mature, we have more freedom to speak the words God places on our hearts. We are less worried about what others think of us, and more concerned with following God’s leading.” I think God is preparing me to meet Him face to face. And I am ready.

  9. Joanne Myette December 27, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    I’m always touched when I read of Simeon’s encounter with t
    Mary and Jesus. He has waited
    his whole life to see the Salvation of Israel and now he can die in peace. Those of us who know Him can share Him with others so they can someday die in peace. I so look forward to the day I will see Him face to face but for now this speaks to my desire to reach those who ha e not yet met Him!

  10. Norma December 27, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Your comment on “who or what do I worship” really hit home with me. It made me think about how into myself I have become instead of the giving person I should be. And that my eyes should be on the final prize of heaven, not the things of earth. Thank you for these Bible studies.

  11. Lisa December 27, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    My husband spent his first Christmas in heaven with our Savior and Lord this year. He died on October 24th at the young age of 48. Being diagnosed with colon cancer a little over a year ago gave him time to ponder and prepare. He lived those final months as a testimony to God’s grace. The final weeks of his life I heard him tell nurses, doctors, family, and clergymen that his only hope was that he could be a good and faithful servant even in his death – the way he put it to one was, “I just want to make God happy.” This was a man with a fear of dying, but not of death. As you said you felt, he too hoped his death would be quick and painless and he also desired to not be alone when he died. The last few days of his life were spent with nurses and doctors who had become family ensuring that he was comfortable. I thank and praise God that as my husband took his last breath, I was able to hold his hand, lay my face next to his, and tell him that I loved him. How would I like to prepare? I hope that regardless of the circumstances that bring about the end of my life my biggest desire in life and death will be to “make God happy.”

  12. Susan Gruener December 27, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    The story gets better and better! 🙂 I would love to hear that I would see the ‘return of my Messiah’ before I die – to hear that in prophecy… It is a selfishness I know, to want Him to come soon…to not have to live on this earth any longer (although it’s beautiful and I’ve been blessed beyond measure!), to want to finally see Jesus and Heaven in all it’s Glory! But I also know there are many that still need to come to ‘know’ Christ as their personal Saviour. But God in all His wisdom has measured out our ‘days’, and He does know best and sees the ‘big’ picture for us all.
    Thanks Liz for another great insight into the people God has placed in the Bible for us to know… to learn their stories and hear about their relationship with our God.
    May you have a blessed 2014!

  13. Sheila December 28, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    I feel that I am far from being the person of true faith such as Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph and Simeon. To have such faith and belief is difficult to wrap my mind around. I do believe, I know that God has plans for me…and wow, how they are changing at work. But I don’t question why these things are happening, because I know he is behind the master plan of my life. The most profound statement I read was Simeon’s words to Mary that she would fell the pain of of the stabbing of her beloved newborn when the time comes in His future. How would any of us handle that? Mary was beyond extraordinary in her belief and faith.

  14. Della Gorrell December 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    My trip on this earth has not been a pleasant one, although here where I live there is beauty all around me. Yet it is not enough to make me want to stay any longer than I absolutely have to… I am so excited at meeting my ABBA FATHER,(DADDY) face to face, and to hear HIM say MY daughter I love you.. You see my earthly father did not want me and life has been difficult. The story is to long to tell, but just to be in the arms of my FATHER quickens my heart and makes me homesick. To see GOD and JESUS face to face is all I want to do.. Yes I am ready.

  15. Marie December 28, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    In the last sixteen months I have learned a lot about Colan cancer and what our loved one went through. His strength and faith in God was so amazing!! He reminds me of The Women of Christmas. I know even more so now, that when I am worried, stressed or upset that it is ok to turn it ALL over to God. Place them completely into his hands. Being strong women that we are, we sometimes feel like we need to carry the full load. God has always been there for me and my entire family! What a amazing feeling it is when God answers of your prayers, and even some within hours! I could not live my life with out God and I will do all I can to continue to be a testimonial. Thank you God for my life and Liz for this book!

  16. Julie Sunne December 29, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    Yes, chills as I think about it, Liz. My Lord…face to face! Imagine!

    It isn’t always easy but continuing to learn to lay down my flesh and take on His spirit. Less earthly things, more of Him. That’s the only place to find contentment and honestly repeat Simeon’s words: “You may now dismiss your servant in peace” (Luke 2:29).

    Blessings to you, dear Sister, for the New Year.

  17. Barb December 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    In Chapter 7 you pointed out how the Magi “On coming to the house, they saw …” From Matthew 2:11, making the point they might not have gone to Bethlehem but later to the house where Mary and Joseph lived. Do we need to know each and every point, no, but we need to know facts not interpretations. Thank you. As for how I want to prepare for the day I see my
    Savior’s face, I need to have more quiet time with Him now and find the confidence to know His time will be my time.

  18. Connie Nakamura December 30, 2013 at 12:50 am #

    Liz, I wanted to tell you that your book really meant a lot to me this Christmas. Through it I was able to look at the miracle of the birth of our Lord with completely new sight. We live in Japan which is just one percent Christian. Christmas is not acknowledged here-if it is -it’s totally from a commercial point of view. I often feel lonely and depressed at this time of the year. This year I was able to have the best Christmas I’ve ever had in my life! It was because I focused on something other than parties and presents and such. I didn’t make Jesus and His advent an after thought. Thank you, you have no real idea what this book meant to me this year. I’ll be reading this book again and again.

    Much love and many blessings,

  19. Kathy Easterday December 30, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    I was not brought up in church, but I was baptized, and went to church until I was about 4 or five. My parents divorced. I have had a hard life. Every avenue that could have prospered never has even though I worked very hard. I think God has had His hand in that. I love Him so much, and He is my everything. I look forward to the day I see His face.
    I love reading your bible studies. Thank you and God bless you!

  20. Steffennie January 4, 2014 at 6:55 am #

    You mentioned that the cross and the manger don’t have to be separated because they are connected and you’re SO right. Years ago my mom found this ornament that we attached to gifts for teachers, friends, you name it and they probably got one. We kept a couple of them and my mom gave me one when I moved out. When I moved back in mine was nowhere to be found. I told her that I missed it and she brought me this small box wrapped in tissue paper. She told me that I had to open it right then, but it was like the first week of December so I was totally confused. I could see that it was important to her that I open it right then, so I did. It was a spare of the ornament. She said she had kept one because she felt like God wanted her to and that years later she finally knew why.
    The ornament simply says “Christ was born for this.” It’s silver, but it’s written on what looks like wood planks and a red string hangs down with a single nail hanging from it. It is placed on our tree every year right above the manger scene. Thankfully, mine hangs above the manger scene that I have in my room until I move out again. But it really reminds us that the birth and death are linked and that while Christmas is a blessing, that blessing gave us hope not only on Christmas, but on Easter as well.
    This book is amazing, just as all the others are. It really has taught me things I never noticed and I have heard and taught the story more times than I can count, but this year was different because everything that I was learning made it more special to me.

  21. Debra Pressley January 10, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    I am so far from being the obedient servant. I pray that in 2014, I willlearn true obedience. Ty so much for these lessons, Liz!