Simeon’s Promise

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem who was called Simeon…He was waiting for the consolation of Israel.”

Mary, a new mother, full of pride and awe, carries the infant Jesus into the temple courts. Joseph has just spent a few of their meager coins on the required turtle doves to be sacrificed for their Son’s redemption.   It is a moment of holy irony. But like so many of those moments, it goes unnoticed….

Well, almost unnoticed. But there is one man, Simeon, who is waiting and watching, expectant for that holy encounter.  Righteous and devout, Simeon tenaciously clings to God’s promise of consolation. He holds Isaiah’s prophecies close to his heart. “Burst into songs of joy together…for the Lord has comforted His people, he has redeemed Jerusalem” (Isaiah 52:9). Simeon is old, probably old enough that his eyes don’t work too well anymore. But he’s still looking for the promise. And he’s not about to miss it. God’s Spirit has given him his own personal promise—he will not die until he gets a glimpse of the Promise fulfilled. So Simeon watches with his heart. Until the Spirit’s voice tells him to go into the temple courts. That’s when he crosses paths with young Mary and her precious bundle.

Simeon knows. He sees the baby and something clicks within him. Taking the infant into his arms, he breaks out into poetic worship, praising His God for fulfilling a personal promise and a public one.

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
   which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”–Luke 2:29-32

As Simeon holds the Messiah in His arms, God inspires him with a deep awareness of God’s goodness and grace. Simeon had been waiting “for the consolation of Israel”, but looking into the guileless eyes of God’s own Son, Simeon sees that his expectations have been exceeded.  This is “a light of revelation for the Gentiles AND the glory of…Israel.” God’s plan is greater, his promise even more expansive than Simeon could have anticipated.

Simeon’s epiphany, his moment of unfettered praise, fills me with anticipation and hope. And it inspires me to celebrate with abandon God’s revelation and movement in my own life. Simeon waited. He hoped in the promises of God, and he listened for God’s voice, so that when God whispered “Here it is; and it’s bigger than you ever dreamed,” Simeon wasn’t brought up short by a tiny baby. Instead he took that infant promise into his arms, and rejoiced that God’s answer was beyond any of his wildest hopes in all his years of waiting.

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