Waiting… This morning my dining room table is set awaiting some very special guest. The ladies I have have the privilege of sitting with every Tuesday morning to study the Word are coming for brunch. I am so looking forward to our time together. This year they are all women whom I am studying the Word with for the very first time. There is such a beautiful bond that comes between women who are willing to open themselves up to allow the Word to change them. Each week as we capture nuggets of truth we are moved to love and know our God even more… which brings us into an even closer friendship.
Today we come to one my favorite parts of the Christmas story. A story of a man who waited his whole entire life for a very special guest to arrive on planet earth.
The story of Simeon is one that has always intrigued me… the man who was promised to see the Messiah. Although the Scriptures leave out the details to this man’s turn in history, this is what I imagine his story to hold.
Simeon heard the news. It came from over the hillside in the town of Hebron, just a days walk from Jerusalem. The news of a baby’s birth. His name was John and he was born to his proud parents Zacharias and Elizabeth. Now, babies were born everyday, but this baby was different and everyone had heard of his miraculous conception… even though Zacharias had been struck mute and not able to tell anyone what had happened!
You see, Elizabeth was very old and should not of been able to have children. This child was a miracle, a gift from God, a sign of things to come. And Simeon knew it. He knew the prophet Malachi had told of a man who would prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah, to come. This meant Jesus, the Messiah, His Messiah would be born soon. But when?
Simeon wandered through the temple as he called to God. “My Lord and my God, You have given us this child who will make a way for the Messiah. If it please You, I beg of You this one request, that I might live to see my Lord and my King. Have mercy on this old man who desires to bless his Savior. May the name of the Lord be praised, forever.”
Then the Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that his request would be granted. He would live until he saw the Messiah with his own eyes.
Months passed as Simeon waited. He prayed and worshiped God knowing the time would come. He knew the prophecies must be fulfilled before He would see his Savior. He knew that a virgin must become pregnant and then travel with her husband to Bethlehem where Micah prophesied the birth of Jesus would take place. Simeon studied the scriptures and watched for the signs of the prophets to be fulfilled.
Then one day, as Simeon was walking to the temple he was distracted by one of the shepherds who was bringing sheep in for the sacrifice. The shepherd was speaking to anyone who would listen. His words sounded crazy and sporadic as he spoke of angels filling the sky and a stable where an baby was born. The people in the temple courts dismissed him as a deranged man that spent entirely too much time talking to sheep, but Simeon ran quickly towards him and asked about what He saw. “He has come,” the shepherd replied, “The baby who is Christ our Lord has come to earth. I saw him in a stable in Bethlehem.” As a temple guard turned to question the shepherd’s statement, Simeon gazed into the heavens. The time has come… he thought… the virgin has conceived and given birth.
Some day soon the baby would be brought to the temple, for it was required by law that the first male child would be presented to the Lord after the 40 days of purification was required for the mother. He counted the days to determine the time the baby would be presented. Once again, Simeon would wait.
When the time drew closer Simeon had several sleepless nights wondering if the daylight would bring his first glimpse of the Savior.
His daily walk to the temple seemed quite ordinary until he entered the gates and his heart began to flutter. In the middle of the courtyard, through the crowds of people, he saw them. His heart was prompted to know that the young couple carrying a small child was what he was waiting for.
Simeon began to walk through the crowds until he reached them. He looked at the face of his Savior as a tear began to run down his cheek. “This is the One… The One whom I have been waiting for, the One who has been promised since the world began.”
Mary looked at him curiously. “Did he know this was the promised One?” She thought. She noticed that this man had kindness in his eyes and felt at peace with this stranger. Simeon reached out and asked to hold the baby Jesus. Mary, who had been reluctant to let Jesus out of her arms since His birth, felt as if this was a part of God’s plan and handed Jesus carefully to the old man. He stared at the baby for just a moment and then he cried out to God, “Lord, now I can die in peace! As you promised me, I have seen the Savior. You have given to all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, And He is the glory of Your people Israel!”
They marveled at what this man was saying. “He knew Jesus was the promised Messiah”, and smiled at this stranger.
Then Simeon prophecied about the Baby by saying, “This Child will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But He will be the greatest joy to many others. Thus, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” Then looking intently at Mary he concluded, “a sword will pierce your very soul also.”
Although the blessing would have been confusing to many, Mary and Joseph both tried to grasp its meaning. They knew that their baby was special and that He would do great things. After all, He was the very Son of God. They knew that because of this many people would try to harm Him. He would be rejected, even by His own people. But, there would be many more who would love Him and follow Him. They would believe that He was the Messiah and serve Him no matter what the cost. He also reminded them that because of those that rejected Him, Mary would suffer as well. Her soul would be pierced. Not with a sword that pierced the skin leading to death but with the sorrow that a mother feels when her child is suffering. As it was prophecied by Isaiah as well as others, Mary would see her son be rejected by many and then die a horrible death. She knew that even though it seemed a long way off, it would be a reality and her baby son would one day be the sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Simeon placed Jesus back to his Mother’s arm as a tear began to roll down her face still hearing the words of the prophecy he gave echoing within her soul. He bowed his head and turned around to walk back through the crowds and out of the temple. Mary and Joseph watched him until he disappeared out of sight.
Simeon walked home as he thought about the baby he had held only moments before. This was his Messiah, his Lord, his King and one day He would reign over all the earth. Everyone will worship Him. What an amazing thought. He had just held God in his arms. He had tenderly cradled the One who would some day usher him into His presence. He paused a moment in the crowd with his eyes closed to think about what had just occurred. He could still smell the fresh scent of the baby on his fingertips. He continued to walk home through the crowd, but he didn’t even see the people around him as they bustled about their day. He could only see Jesus.
After arriving home, Simeon went to sleep only to wake up in the presence of his Lord, the God of the universe, that he had held only hours before. God has kept his promise and Simeon worshiped Him once again face to face. Both were moments worth waiting for!