Summary: God is calling us to let go of all that is familiar and comfortable so that we can grow and mature in our walk with the Lord.
"Let Go and Grow!"
Simeon woke up early and while it was still dark. He made his way to his favorite place of prayer and knelt before the King of Glory to give thanks for a new day. Simeon prayed for the peace of YHWH to surround Jerusalem and for the LORD to send His Messiah to His people. After Simeon poured his heart out before the LORD of Glory his thanks graduated into silence as he listened for YHWH’s still, small voice.
Simeon had begun his day with prayer and fellowship with the LORD since the time he was a small boy. His father would get him out of bed early to pray with him and listen to the Scriptures. Now Simeon was an old man. He was all alone and yet he knew in his heart that he was never alone. YHWH God was his light and his salvation, an ever-present help every time he was in need. The LORD had given Simeon a burning desire to pray for the coming Messiah. Every time Simeon would go to the Temple to pray and hear the Torah read, he would feel a strange confidence that his eyes would behold God’s promised Messiah one day. Simeon became as giddy as a school girl just thinking about what it would be like to actually see God’s Anointed One, His Messiah, the Deliverer from Heaven. Simeon never gave up hope that one day his dream would become a reality even though he was getting older and his clock was running down. Simeon saw everything that happened in the Temple as a sign pointing to the coming of the LORD’S Anointed One.
Then one day Simeon was on his way to the Temple when his eyes became fixed on a mother and small baby walking towards him. Simeon was stopped dead in his tracks. His heart began to race. His eyes began to water as a lump came up in his throat. Nobody said a word to Simeon, but he knew, oh how he knew! This was the child. This was the promise. This was the Messiah. Nobody would believe Him, but he knew in his heart and nobody could convince him otherwise. Simeon watched the mother, baby, and Mary’s husband, Joseph, like they were celebrities, but his heart was fixed on the baby.
After Joseph and Mary had made their offering and began to walk away, the old man came up to them and then,
28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." (Luke 2:28-32 NIV)
Simeon’s prayers had been answered. All that he had ever learned in the Temple now made sense. Simeon’s heart was set free! His eyes had seen the salvation that his heart had longed for and Simeon was a happy man. Joseph and Mary were shocked when the old man took their little boy in his arms and spoke such bold words, words that confirmed what they already knew in their hearts, but they didn’t know that anyone else knew. Luke tells us that Joseph and Mary 33 ...marveled at what was said about him. (Luke 2:33 NIV)
We can learn from reading Luke’s Gospel that Simeon was a righteous man, he was devout. Simeon was a man who loved God. The Lord had revealed to him that one day he would see the Messiah. Don’t you know he had to have had dreams of what that experience would be like when it happened? What would the Messiah look like? Would he be tall, dark, and handsome? Would he look like Russell Crowe in Gladiator? Was Simeon’s image of the Messiah what reality would prove to be?
I wonder what Simeon thought when the Holy Spirit revealed to him that the baby tucked in the arms of the young mother was the long awaited Messiah? The rabbi had always said that Messiah would be like King David - He would be a conqueror. What Simeon saw was no conqueror, but a baby nestled in his mother’s arms.
There is a great lesson for us in the life of the old man Simeon. Simeon rejoiced in God’s wondrous gift. He was a devout man who loved God and went to the Temple, but when the Lord opened a door for him to behold what no Jew could have ever imagine - Simeon let go of what he might have thought Messiah would be like and he marveled at God’s Messiah.
Have you ever stopped to think about how difficult it must be for a Jewish person to believe that God’s Messiah came to us wrapped in his mother’s arms, crying in the middle of the night, and needing a diaper change? Have you ever stopped to think about how hard it must be for those who were taught that God’s Anointed One would come to conquer Israel’s oppressors to accept One who hung lifeless on a cross?