The festivities are over, the presents have been opened, the decorations are starting to come down, merchandise is over half off, and Christmas seems officially over. However, is Christmas Day really the end of everything, the pinnacle moment, grand finale? Or is Christmas Day truly the beginning?
For the Christian, it is just the introductory chapter to the greatest story ever written! But before we move on from the birth of Jesus, I have two more people I want to introduce to you.
The characters most well-known from the Christmas story are those gathered round the manger in nativity scenes; however, semi-obscure people from both before and after the birth of Christ are worthy of studying. We’ve already looked at the ones from before Christ’s birth, so now we’re going to focus on the only two people who—without the aid of an angel or unusual star—recognized the baby Jesus as the Promised Messiah: Simeon and Anna.
“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. 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 into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, ‘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.’’
Can you imagine Joseph and Mary’s surprise when a complete stranger lifts up their baby and declares Him to be the Savior of the world! I’m sure that was the last thing they were expecting this man to say! But how did Simeon know? How did he recognize the face of God on an eight-day-old newborn? What prompted him to look for the Messiah among the babies being brought in for circumcision? What type of man must he have been for the Holy Spirit to be so strongly upon him that it dictated and directed the course of his life and day so that he was in the right spot at the right moment to see the Christ Child? And how long had this devout man been waiting and watching for the Messiah? While there are many unanswered questions that we’d love to ask Simeon, there are also many lessons we can learn from this patient, Messiah-seeking man from Jerusalem.
Notice that the only description we have of Simeon was that he was a man in Jerusalem. Luke doesn’t tell us if he was a priest, scholar, peasant, blue-collar worker, or anything about him. He was just ordinary Simeon from Jerusalem, nothing special or extraordinary. However, he was the only man in Jerusalem to spot the face of God within the arms of a young peasant girl. Why? Because he was looking. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before seeing the Promised One. So day after day, Simeon looked with hope for the face of his Savior, and he was attentive to the directing of the Holy Spirit. “He came in the Spirit into the temple” makes it sound like going to the temple was not on Simeon’s agenda that day. Was he planning on staying home and taking it easy that day? Or maybe he was going to meet with a friend. Nevertheless, when the Spirit prompted Simeon to go to the temple, he obeyed and was thus able to see the baby Jesus.
These are just a few of the many lessons we can learn from watchful Simeon. What are some that the Lord brings to mind as you ponder and meditate on the story of Simeon?
Simeon waited patiently and looked watchfully for the first coming of the Lord and because of it he found what he was searching for. Therefore, let us—who are waiting for our Lord’s second coming—watch, prepare, and wait with similar patience, expectancy, and readiness for when He returns to earth to rule and reign. And may we, like Simeon, be fully led, directed, and obedient to the Holy Spirit so that we may be ready and in the right place at the right time for when our King of Kings appears again. Maranatha! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
To be continued...
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