Today’s quote is from Michael Card’s book, Joy in the Journey. The story of Simeon is amazing. The story looks back at the birth of Jesus, but also forward to His return some day. Astounding but true!
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.” — Luke 2:25-32 (NLT)
Simeon was an old man when he received a very special promise from God, that he would not die until he had seen the coming of the Messiah. For an elderly Jew and a man of faith, there was no greater promise. From that time on, Simeon spent the remainder of his days waiting, as did all the faithful who lived before the advent of Jesus. Having faith meant waiting for God to keep his promise. Abraham. Moses. The prophets. All those who trusted God demonstrated their faith by their ability to wait. So Simeon waited in the temple for God to make good on his fantastic promise.
We do not know what Simeon was expecting, though we can guess. Perhaps as he sat in the temple court, he kept his eyes focused on the sky, waiting for the clouds to part and reveal a great and glorious king. Perhaps he was expecting a warrior. Many hoped the Messiah would be a warlike leader who would kill the Romans.
We do not know what Simeon expected, but we know what he got. A little baby wrapped in rags, with paupers for parents. A most unlikely person to change the world. Yet there is hardly anyone, even an unbeliever, who could imagine what this world would be like if he had not come.
There the Holy Baby was, cradled in his mother’s arms. What must have gone through Simeon’s mind when God pointed out his Promised One? Simeon was wise enough to expect the unexpected from the Lord. He went straight to Joseph and Mary. Luke gives us the wonderful detail that he took Jesus and held him in his arms. That, for me, is one of the most significant moments of the nativity narratives. In this one simple man two worlds meet. The Old Testament embraces the New. For what is the Old Testament but a collection of promises?
It was good news for Simeon to finally be able to embrace the Promised One. But far away the best news of all is that Jesus embraces us. That was the reason for his coming. Most of us describe our coming to faith by saying, “I’ve asked Jesus into my life.” We should really say he has invited us into his life!
That was the reason for Simeon’s song. Deep inside his tired old heart, he knew that the infant he held in his arms was in truth the One who had been holding him all his life long.
Then I saw a Lamb, booking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. — Rev. 5:6
In the Old Testament, the lamb is the helpless innocent substitute and sacrifice. He is victim, not victor. Even in the New Testament, when the Lamb of God appears he seems an unlikely conqueror. It is not until the close of the New Testament, in the book of Revelation, that the Conquering Lamb appears.
Christmas, the celebration of the first coming of the Lamb, looks back to the humble stable and the simple shepherds. The setting is a dark, fallen world. He has come to expose through his weakness the impotence of what the world calls power.
In that sense Christmas is a preparation for the celebration that will be the second coming of the Lamb triumphant. The contrast between the two settings could not be more extreme. Instead of a silent stable and bunch of motley shepherds, there will be a resplendent multitude whose praise can only be described as a roar!
This video from Compassion International reveals some powerful truths! I know that watching it will impact your life in a positive way.
One Christmas my wife gave me a book I had wanted for a long time. It was a rather obscure book on N. C. Wyeth. When I discovered it (she had tried to hide it in the wardrobe) I was surprised and happy. I didn’t hug the book, however, and give it a big sloppy kiss. No, I dropped the book and embraced her, the one who had given such a special gift. — Michael Card, Joy in the Journey