“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.”
Will you see the Lord’s Christ this Christmas? That is the question that confronted me afresh when reading Luke 2:25-35. In this text we’re introduced to a relatively unknown figure--indeed, a biblical character that probably doesn’t receive the attention he deserves at Christmas time.
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him” (Luke 2:25).
While we don’t learn much about Simeon what we do see is profound. Not only was Simeon “righteous and devout” but notice what he wasn’t: a priest or any recognized religious official.
He was a layman.
Simeon was not part of the paid staff whose job it was to “wait for the consolation of Israel.” No. He was--as far as we can tell--an average guy, but with no average devotion. In the first two chapters of Luke’s gospel he joins Elizabeth and Zachariah, Mary and Joseph and Anna as an ordinary person who displayed extraordinary faith.
Simeon had probably spent countless hours (was he an old man at this point?) meditating on the book of Isaiah and the promises of a coming Messiah. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; see also 9:1-7; 11:1-10; 40:1-11; 52:13-55:13; 60:1-3 and 66:13). Simeon had been waiting expectantly for Israel’s redemption based on the promises of God. And the day had arrived.
Simeon’s response to the arrival of Messiah is staggering. Upon entering the temple “in the Spirit” Simeon held the baby Jesus in his arms and worshipped God by saying, in essence: “Now I am ready to die for my eyes have seen God’s salvation in the person of this precious baby.” And this Jesus, Simeon proclaimed, is the world’s Savior: “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
But Simeon also understood how Jesus’ arrival would expose our true attitude toward God’s salvation. In other words, our relation or attitude toward Jesus is absolutely decisive in terms of our eternal destiny. “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed … so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).
Will you see the Lord’s Christ this Christmas?