The years are catching up to me, Simeon thought as he made his way through the dirt-covered streets of Jerusalem. This was once an easy walk; in the corner of his mind’s eye he recalled himself as a younger man bounding through the alleys, markets, and crowded roads that led to the place of worship. That young man had since been hidden behind the wrinkles and squinting eyes of a man who has spent a lifetime serving the Lord.
Simeon was not sure why the Spirit was leading him to the Temple on this particular day. After all, regular visits there were part of his weekly routine. However, the old man had always been sensitive to the leading of God’s Spirit. How many years had it been since Simeon had received the special Word of the Lord? Five? Ten? Twenty? It didn’t matter. Each new day brought him one day closer to the fulfillment of God’s promise: "You will not see death until you have seen the Lord’s Christ." Maybe it will be today, he mused as he finally reached the steps of the Temple.
As he paced the finely laid floors of the outer patio, Simeon reflected upon his longtime career in serving God. He was not a priest, nor a prophet; he was simply a soldier in the Lord’s army, a common man with an uncommon attunement to the Spirit of God. In a time when prophecy was rare and the Lord was often silent, the Word fell upon this one servant whose very name means "to hear and obey." Called to duty by his Commander, Simeon stood at attention and waited expectantly for the One who would bring salvation to the world.
As his feet began to cramp and the midday sun seared his almost-bare scalp, the old soldier felt a familiar tug in his spirit. Something was happening. The Lord was moving. Where? What was God saying to him? Then, in an inaudible whisper that glided through the ears of his soul, Simeon heard the Spirit’s voice. "There, Simeon. Look there. Your waiting has come to an end."
At that moment, a young couple topped the Temple steps and emerged onto the porch. The husband seemed tired; he looked as though he had walked for hundreds of miles. The tenderness in his eyes, however, betrayed a warm heart that Simeon had not seen in years.
The weary traveler’s wife appeared to be bursting with joy and excitement. Her eyes opened wide and she turned her head from side to side, as though she was trying to take in all of the glorious sights at once. She leaned forward to whisper something to her husband, laughed, and then refocused her attention on the infant in her arms.
The child, Simeon thought. There was something . . . peculiar . . . about the child. The bustling crowds walked past the mother and six-week-old boy without a second glance; nothing out of the ordinary attracted their attention. However, Simeon stood stupefied. He could not turn his eyes away from the perfect picture of innocence wrapped snugly in a blanket and held close to his mother’s heart.
Approaching the young family, Simeon took the babe in his arms and he knew . . . immediately he knew that this was the Child of Promise, the One for whom Simeon had waited for so long. Messiah. Savior. Christ. This child was Emmanuel, God with us. He was the Light of the world. He was the Word made flesh. He was the One of whom prophets foretold, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, and the Son of Man of Daniel. This child was Jesus, the Holy Son of God broken into human history. A tear of shock and joy rolled down Simeon’s cheek as the Lord of all creation gurgled and cooed in his arms.
God had kept His promise. He had granted Simeon’s lifelong ambition: to actually see, touch, and embrace the Christ. He declared, "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."
Simeon’s life was complete at that moment. He had lived to see history change. Whether he lived another thirty years or only another thirty minutes, he was not concerned. Standing there, with the baby Jesus in his hands, he knew that time itself was now divided into two halves: all the years leading up to that moment and all the years that were to come. Posted at the crux of history, the old soldier foresaw the greatest battle of all time faced, fought, and won by this one tiny child. And there he stood, breathing the breath of Christ, whole in the arms of God.
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