This is how the Bible describes him in Luke 2:25:
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”
One day, God “revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.”
Can you imagine? Having such a close relationship with God that he tells you what he’s going to do before he does it? Amos 3:7 testifies to this fact: “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants . . .”
If I was Simeon, after I recovered from such an overwhelming statement, I think I’d wonder, how am I going to recognize the Messiah? What will he look like? The religious leaders of the day expect a conquering king. That shouldn’t be too hard to spot. But the holy books also refer to a suffering servant. That might be a little trickier.
Then one day, the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart. Go to the temple.
Of course, the temple! It stands to reason that God would send his deliverer to the most holy place in the city. Perhaps there will be fanfare and a formal proclamation. Maybe a parade. Surely an entourage of Pharisees and Saducees, not to mention the priests. And King Herod. He’ll certainly want to welcome the deliverer Israel has been waiting for for centuries.
Eagerly Simeon ran, if you could call it that, for his old bones didn’t move easily. His racing heart set the tempo for his feet, but his thoughts moved faster than all of them. The Messiah! Here! Oh, I’ve waited so long. Prayed so hard for his appearing. At last.
Scripture whirled in his head.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).
“Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isa. 9:7).
Simeon expected to have to push through the crowd, but when he arrived at the temple, there was no royal parade. No trumpets and fanfare. Just a few peddlers hawking their wares in the dusty courtyard and money changers haggling over a mite.
And a craggy-faced tradesman with his young wife carrying two pigeons and a copper coin.
And a baby.
An ordinary, non-descript baby. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Cheeks just beginning to fill out. No halo. No angelic host. Just a baby.
He willed his feet to move faster, then slowed as he approached the couple. Timidly, reverently he held out his trembling arms and reached for the tiny infant. The boy's mother surrendered him without hesitation, trusting the ancient sage without knowing why. For a moment their eyes met, and the tears leaking from the corners of the old man’s eyes comforted rather than frightened her.
Gently he gathered the child to his breast and raised his eyes heavenward.
"Sovereign Lord,” he whispered, “as you have promised, now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
One last look into the sleeping child’s face. One soft kiss on his fuzzy head. One final glance into the wondering eyes of his parents as he returned the babe to his mother’s arms. And then he was gone.
My prayer for you, ordinary men and women like Simeon, is that you will eagerly anticipate the coming of Jesus. May you marvel at what has been said about him. May you see with eyes of faith the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. May you remain faithful to the end. And may you receive the crown of glory, which God reserves for those who long for his appearing.
The only song I know of that tells the story of Simeon is Michael Card's "Now That I've Held Him in My Arms." Enjoy.
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