I just finished reading through the Timothys (which looks wrong spelled that way, but I’m sure Timothies can’t be the right way either). Whatever the plural form of Timothy is, this verse from 2 Timothy inspired me to make The Gospel According to Luke the next victim on my reading list.
2 Timothy 4:8 (NASB)
8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
…to all who have loved his appearing
One of my favorite events in the narrative of Christ’s birth involves someone who truly loved his appearing. Sadly, this story is usually overlooked at Christmas, and everyone is ready to stop talking about the infant Jesus as soon as the holiday is over. In all the talk of Mary and Joseph, censuses, shepherds, and even the fashionably late wise men, Simeon rarely even gets a nod. But Luke thought he was worth mentioning—and I’m with Luke on this one!
Luke 2:25-35 (NASB)
25 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.
26 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.
27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law,
28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.”
33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.
34 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—
35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
No one really knows if Simeon was a priest or just an average Jew who was in the right place at the right time. What we do know is that he was at the temple when Jesus was presented because, on that day, he had been led there by the Holy Spirit.
Well, I can’t tell you God’s motives, but I have a few good guesses…
Simeon hadn’t forgotten God’s promises and settled for something less. His intense desire was to see God’s promises fulfilled and he didn’t give up on God—even when the religious leaders were hypocrites and the political situation was unfavorable and unstable. He hadn’t carved out a nice, comfortable niche for himself and hidden there from the disappointments of life. He chose to hope. He longed. He prayed. He looked. He expected.
And before Simeon died, God granted that he would hold the consummation of all his hopes in his arms—in the form of a precious, little baby boy. The Holy Spirit somehow revealed to him that this was it—this child was the messiah he had been waiting for, the one who would save Israel. He may not have fully understood the role of the messiah, but he had experienced God’s faithfulness. Can you imagine the joy and wonder in Simeon’s heart? And how Mary and Joseph must have felt at the sight of it?
I believe God delighted in the whole scene.
Certainly, I long for and look to the day when Christ will return and make all things right, but in the meantime…we have other promises. Simeon encourages me to keep pushing, keep seeking, keep working, and keep hoping even when I don’t see much going on.
There are things God has said he will do in and through me and through his body, the church. I know it is his desire for the lost to be saved. I want to be counted among those who long for, look for, and expect his faithfulness—from now until that day.
Simeon’s joy can be ours.