Summary: Simeon’s Song is short. Today, I want to highlight just three truths that testify to the understanding that Simeon had of Jesus.
Who is your favorite person in the Christmas story?
Most of you would probably say “Jesus.” Of course, we would not have a Christmas story if Jesus had not been born. And he is the central person in the entire story.
But, apart from Jesus, who is your favorite person in the Christmas story?
Is it Mary? Joseph? The angels? The shepherds? The wise men? Gabriel? Any one of these—or someone not yet mentioned—could be your favorite person (or persons) in the Christmas story.
Today, however, I would like to draw your attention to another one of “The People of Christmas,” the title for this short series of Advent and Christmas messages. The person I want to draw your attention to is a somewhat obscure character who had great faith in God’s coming Messiah. His name is Simeon, and we read about him in Luke’s gospel.
22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now 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. 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 do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 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 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:29–32)
We know very little about Simeon.
We don’t know where Simeon was born. We don’t know who Simeon’s relatives were. We don’t know what Simeon did for a living. We don’t know what Simeon’s house looked like. We don’t know if Simeon was rich or poor. We don’t know what other people thought of Simeon.
Of course, at the end of the day it does not matter what other people think of us; what matters is what God thinks of us. We are told that Simeon was “righteous and devout,” and that he was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (2:25).
But more than that we are told that “the Holy Spirit was upon him” (2:25) and that “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” Pastor and author James Montgomery Boice says “that means that [Simeon] was somewhat of a sentinel, for he had been placed in Israel to point out the Christ when he came.”
And then he gives the following illustration from classical drama:
In the play Agamemnon there is a scene in which a sentinel is perched on a hill to watch for the fire that will signal the destruction of Troy. When Troy fell, a fire was to be lit that could be seen by a sentinel stationed on a hill a reasonable distance away. He in turn was to light another fire that would be seen by another sentinel still farther away who would light a fire, and so on, fire after fire, until the message finally came all the way around the Aegean Sea to the palace of Agamemnon in the lower part of Greece. At the beginning of the play the sentinel is standing on his hill, the fire has not yet come, and he is bemoaning the captivity that is his by reason of assignment. He says that the fall of Troy and the imprisonment of its people will mean his freedom. While he is giving this speech, the fire appears, and he is released. The drama was set in motion.