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"In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought Him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took Him into his arms and blessed God.
"God, 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 open for everyone to see:
A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of the glory of your people, Israel." Luke2:25-32 (The Message).
Who was Simeon? Was he a Pharisee? A member of the Sanhedrin? The royal family? A religious boffin? Apparently none of these!
What was his claim to fame? From God's perspective (and He was the one guiding Luke's writing), he was "a good man, who lived in prayerful expectancy of help for Israel". It's natural, don't you think, that God would choose someone like him with whom to share His good news?
I can imagine that the Father was brimming over with excitement when the most important phase of His recovery plan was in place - centred in a small baby who had just been born. Like any human being, He was bursting to share the news with someone, especially someone who was eagerly looking forward to the announcement.
Years before, the Holy Spirit had whispered in Simeon's spirit that he would still be around when it happened. That morning when he woke up, he felt that gentle prompting again. 'Simeon, go to the Temple. I have something to show you.' Obedient to the impression, he shuffled through the streets of Jerusalem towards the gleaming white building on the hill. His old legs needed pampering as he slowly climbed the steps of his favourite place in the city.
Stopping to rest after the steep climb, he noticed a young couple entering the courtyard through the massive door. The mother looked so young, hardly more than a child. She was cradling a baby in her arms and the father was carrying a cage with two pigeons in it... Again he heard the voice in his spirit, 'That's Him, Simeon.' Simeon's heart leapt for joy. 'God's Messiah!' He could hardly believe his eyes.
Stepping forward as they approached him, he held out his arms for the baby. Without hesitation Mary placed her beloved little one in the arms of the old man. Simeon gazed with wonder into the face of the sleeping child. He was actually holding the One of whom the ancients prophets has spoken over centuries of interaction with God.
Simeon began to speak, softly at first but with rising confidence as the full impact of this moment dawned on his spirit. 'Lord, I can go to my fathers in peace now because my eyes have seen your promised Messiah. Your rescue plan is on track, not only for Israel but for the whole world. It's here for everyone to see if they have the eyes of faith to believe.'
Simeon was uniquely privileged to be one of the few, a nobody in the world like the shepherds, to be in on God's secret. Why did Luke choose these incidents, shepherds, old man, told by no other New Testament writer, to include in his story? Luke's gospel is a message to the world. Himself a Gentile, he wanted his reader, Theophilus, and, through him, the whole world to know that this Jesus, a Jewish Messiah, was God's gift to everyone, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, male and female, somebody and nobody; He came to restore everyone and everything to God's original plan.
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