And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit to the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God and said, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed – and a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”Luke 2:25-35
These eleven verses are all we hear of Simeon, yet they reveal a great deal about his character and add to the early insight of who Jesus would become.
It was four hundred years from the time of the last recorded prophet to the time that Jesus would be born, four hundred years pouring over the prophecies, collecting signs and promises of future hope. Meanwhile, the Jews were subject to the Greeks, the Egyptians, and finally (after a brief period of independence) the Romans. And all the time they were waiting, for four hundred years.
Then comes Simeon, who receives the baffling revelation that the Christ would appear in his lifetime. And I imagine what it must have been for him to live with this knowledge, day by day going about the business of living, and serving, and following God hand carrying this truth with him. How long did he wait? Did he grow impatient? How many people ridiculed his faith? As the years stretched on, did he begin to doubt? We see here, in all his waiting, Simeon remained faithful to his hope, faithful enough to respond to the Spirit’s moving. And then, how sweet it must have been for him to finally behold this child!
Simeon knew exactly who he was waiting for, and it might not have been what others expected. Where many were waiting for the Christ to come as a victorious champion, overthrowing the Romans and restoring the people of Israel, Simeon understood that the “consolation of Israel” would be so much more. Simeon understood that the Christ would bring salvation reaching to the heart of man, salvation reaching even to the Gentiles and it was the fulfillment of God’s purpose, not his own for which he longed for and rejoiced.
I love this encounter with Simeon, because it stirs me to contemplate: In my day to day business of living, what truth am I carrying with me? When all else fades, who is this Christ I hope for?
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful…Hebrews 10:23