Like many of you, I’ve heard the story of Christmas many times before.
I’ve heard it read from Luke during family Christmases, I’ve read it on my own as I’ve studied the life of Jesus, I’ve heard teachings on it, I’ve read books on it, I’ve read blogs about it, I’ve seen pictures of it, and I’ve even acted it out in my dad’s bathrobe.
And I don’t know if this is okay to admit, but sometimes I find myself kind of numb to the story.
Not that I don’t understand or totally appreciate the incredibly power and love that is seen and experienced when reading about God Himself being “with us” in such a miraculous, humble, world-altering way. But sometimes I think I miss some of the rawness and truth of the account, having heard it so many times.
However, there is one piece of the story that I’ve always found incredible. It’s an account that isn’t often read about or at least paid attention to, but offers an amazing element of intimacy to the birth of Jesus.
There are no angels or wise men in it. There’s no dove from heaven or divine healing. There’s just this one guy.
His name is Simeon and he’s only mentioned in 10 verses in all of Scripture. We read about him when Jesus is brought to the temple by his parents to be dedicated at the temple.
Here’s what it says:
At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required,Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
I have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared for all people.
He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” – Luke 2:25-35 (NLT)
There’s a lot that jumps out to me, one of them simply being how Simeon’s heart was so pure. The one thing he earnestly desired from God was to live until the Messiah was there. And his spirit was so in tune with God’s, that the Holy Spirit revealed to him that this would happen.
I have to wonder too, with all the misconception of what the Messiah would be and look like (most Jews believing the Messiah to be a strong warrior that would come lead the Jewish people to freedom against Rome), Simeon may have been shocked to see that the Messiah came in the form of a baby. And yet, despite his probable surprise, he takes Jesus in his arms and praises God right then and there.
The faithfulness of God that Simeon must have felt in that moment is astounding.
I imagine that with Simeon, as with us, hearing and sensing the Holy Spirit move and speak always brings a small tail of doubt along with it.
Did I hear Him right?
Was that even God?
Am I missing something?
Am I being stupid and naïve?
Did I just imagine that myself?
That can’t be right, can it?
What will people think?
I’m sure these doubts crept into his mind year after year as he got older and older with still no sign of any kind of Messiah or Savior.
But then he is prompted to go to the temple and there he not only gets to see and meet the Savior of God’s people, but he gets to hold him as well.
God is faithful. God is good. God is true.
Like the many times when God is faithful to us by providing safety, health, finances, or finding our lost keys, Simeon must have been overwhelmed with God’s faithfulness.
I can just picture his walk home from the temple.
I don’t know how much longer he lived but I like thinking about the amount of peace and joy and contentment and amazement he must have felt for the rest of his days. I picture him arriving home, sitting down, and breathing out this sigh. A breath of gratefulness to God and absolute stillness in his heart.
He got to hold the Messiah.
That God sent.
And God promised he would see.
God was real, God was speaking, God was faithful.
So much joy.
Now he could die in peace.
Then I’m sure he jumped right back up, slammed a few cups of bold blend, and went and told as many people as he could about how freakin’ awesome God is.
The shepherds didn’t get to hold Jesus, the wise men didn’t get to hold Jesus, but Simeon did.
And he’s probably my favorite Christmas story person.
I kind of wish he was my grandfather.
Then I would know how to dress up like him when I help act out the Christmas story with my cousins. JK…sorta.