Summary: God's purpose of salvation of fallen man is revealed in the first days of the life of the baby Jesus.

“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.’

“And his father and his mother marvelled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’” [1]

Chrismons are symbols of the Christian Faith. In recent years, Chrismons have become a popular form of decoration for Christmas Trees. This is especially true in Christian homes. Chrismons have come down to us through history. The word “chrismon” is a combination of the words “Christi monogramma,” meaning “monogram of Christ.” Chrismons have come to be accepted as symbols of Christ or of some aspect of His ministry. The source of inspiration comes from the Scriptures which are full of “Names of Christ” which are illustrations of His character and work and easily demonstrated in objects. We think of such symbols as the fish, the dove, the shepherd’s crook, the chalice, the shell and the Celtic cross.

Like parables, chrismons are earthly symbols with heavenly meanings. They were designed, carved, and drawn by the earliest Christians and have been found on jewellery and utensils, in the catacombs, on doors and buildings. They were symbols used by early Christians to show their faith to the world. They were always made in gold and white to symbolise majesty and purity.

Among the items which could qualify as a Chrismon, none is more symbolically accurate than that of a tomb. The Son of God was born to die, and to rise again. Perhaps the first person to see clearly that the Son of God was born to die was old Simeon. We know little of the old man, except that he was righteous and conscientious concerning the Word of God. He read the Scriptures and under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, he realised that the time for the birth of the Anointed One was present. He lived in anticipation of the birth of God’s Messiah.

Moved by the Holy Spirit, this godly man went into the Temple at the precise moment when the infant Jesus was being brought into the precincts by His parents. The Word of God is careful to say that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon; the Word specifically notes that he was moved by the Spirit to go into the Temple courts. We are left with the clear assumption that he anticipated the revelation of the Messiah that day. Simeon went to the Temple in expectation of seeing what God was about to do.

As Simeon waited in the Temple court, Mary and Joseph brought their firstborn son into the Temple. They brought the child in order to name him and present Him before the Lord. They would offer the sacrifice required for a firstborn son, acknowledging that He belonged to the Lord. Before they were able to perform even one aspect of the required ritual, Simeon approached them, lifted the child from His parent’s arms and praised God.

The Greek and the Latin read as follows:

nyn apolyeis ton doulon sou, despota,

kata to rhēma sou en eirēnē;

hoti eidon hoi ophthalmoi mou to sōtērion sou,

ho hētoimasas kata prosōpon pantōn tōn laōn,

phōs eis apokalypsin ethnōn

kai doxan laou sou Israēl. [2]

Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine,

secundum verbum tuum in pace:

quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum,

quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:

lumen ad revelationem gentium,

et gloriam plebis tuæ Israël. [3]

The song of praise which broke from Simeon’s heart to rise to the heavens is known as the Nunc Dimitis, from the first words in the Latin version of this canticle. Focus with me on this song as together we learn something of God’s grace and learn something of God’s wisdom. Join me in exploration of the final message in this series studying the convergence of God and man at Bethlehem more than two millennia past. Review the account of Simeon as he witnessed God’s grace in the Temple when the child Jesus was brought in to be presented before the LORD.

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