Excerpt from an article I wrote in 2005:
There are many characters that contribute to that great day that our Savior Jesus Christ was born. There were angels, shepherds, wise men, livestock, Mary, Joseph and the many members of their family. We also have the antagonist of Herod and his henchmen going through the streets of the small village of Bethlehem killing babies of under the age of three.
In my living room, I have two pictures of one of my favorite characters from the Bible. He is not just one of my favorite from the Christmas story. He is on of my favorites from the entire Bible. He is Simeon the priest. Don’t know who he is? Many people don’t. In Luke 2:25-35 we get a glimpse of who this man of God was.
Simeon is a just and devout man in which the Word says that the Holy Spirit was upon him. He was a man who like many was praying for the hand of Imperial Rome to be lifted from Jerusalem and the freedom of the Hebrews would be established. The Lord through the Holy Spirit personally told him he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the temple to make a sacrifice. Coming into the temple, the parents of the child Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice, brought him in to carry out the sacrificial rituals of the Law. Simeon took the baby into his arms, blessed and praised God saying:
“You can now release your servant. Release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation. It’s now out in the open for everyone to see. He is a God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations and of glory for your people Israel.”
Simeon was a man full of faith. He was a man of prayer. God blessed him with a unique personal encounter with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Simeon then turns around after this statement and blesses a speechless Joseph and Mary who were surprised and astonished at what they were seeing and what they heard.
Obviously, Simeon was a man who knew and studied the Law. A lot of the characteristics of his life duplicated the life of the patriarchs whose prayer life we have studied in our Care Groups on Wednesday evenings. From this small picture into the life of Simeon the priest, we have a lot to learn. Like many of the patriarchs, we see that Simeon was man who was just and upright. Today, we would say he was a man of character and integrity. He pursued to do what was right in the sight of God and man. He lived by the Law (the Word of God). He lived a life of meditating on the Word as well as walking upon its precepts.
Also like the Patriarchs, we see that he was a man of prayer who knew how to petition God. You can get from reading the passage that Simeon had a special, intimate relationship with God. He persevered hard in prayer to see God answer his prayer. He lived in prayerful expectancy of help for Israel.
Linked with his prayer life, was faith. He prayed with great faith – the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. He prayed believing God who is the rewarder of our faith. In the end, we see God rewarded Simeon with a great answer by allowing him to hold the Deliverer who would one day bring freedom to not only Israel but the whole world by dying on the cross.
As Simeon went on to bless them, he turns to Mary and said,
“This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many in Israel. He will be a figure who will be misunderstood and contradicted. He will be like the pain of a sword through you. But the rejection will force honesty as God reveals who they really are.”
I know personally that I have failed many times in life. I also know of the recovery that Jesus Christ done in my life. He has led me to victory in all of my failures that I have put over to him to recover from. It is important at Christmas that without an “Easter” there would have never been a Christmas. It was because of the cross and the salvation that it would bring that Jesus “who was rich and became poor” left the portals of heaven to come earth to save us.
Thinking upon this act, we can really see how wonderful and marvelous Jesus really is. May this Christmas be one with the end of Jesus’ earthly mission in mind. In wood he lied as a baby, on wood he died for our salvation.