The Jews of Jesus’ day knew that they were the Chosen People – special to God. They dreamed of the glory days under David and his son Solomon, but here they were under the heel of Rome. How would they ever fulfill their destiny with this huge empire dictating their every move??
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon him” Luke 2:25.
The Jews of Jesus’ day knew that they were the Chosen People – special to God. They dreamed of the glory days under David and his son Solomon, but here they were under the heel of Rome. How would they ever fulfill their destiny with this huge empire dictating their every move?? And so they resisted. The Essenes abandoned the political, hypocritical institution that the Temple had become and went to the desert to study and pray. The Zealots felt that armed resistance was the only way, and the extreme arm of the Zealots, called Sicarii, would assassinate Romans or their lackeys whenever possible. And then you had others like Simeon who had no aspirations to violence but instead committed themselves to holiness and prayer. People have to resist in whatever ways they see appropriate, but Simeon presents a winsome picture in that he walked in the Spirit who had told him to watch for the Messiah!
And now, after the 40 days that the Law required, Joseph and Mary arrive at the temple to offer a sacrifice on behalf of their firstborn son. They, like Simeon, were observant of the Law and quietly holy – likeminded people. They would redeem their firstborn, as was stipulated in Exodus (although their Son didn’t need to be redeemed!), and did so with the offering of the poor – two small birds. Who would have noticed this little family in the hubbub of the Temple? Almost no one! People didn’t know that the Holy Spirit had been speaking, that angels had been announcing, and that the Hope of the Ages had arrived.
Almost no one – but Simeon the Watcher, was ready. The Holy Spirit spoke to him that day – “This is the day! Go to the temple right now!” And he did. Through the Hulda gates and onto the Temple mount – Gentiles in their court, money changers busy, religious elite – Pharisees by the dozens and worshipping Israelites of all stripes. And the Spirit says to Simeon – “That little couple right over there – yes, the one with the infant – there is the Consolation!” Simeon was confident enough to go right over, take the child in his arms and make a declaration – “for my eyes have seen your salvation!”
The astounded couple realized that the Spirit who had come upon Mary to conceive; who had filled Elizabeth and her little boy John; who had inspired John’s dad Zechariah – had been at work for a long time in leading this man Simeon! And now Simeon was released from his watching – God had made good on His promise.
What is the lesson for us today? The Holy Spirit is always speaking to ready hearts. He is not fearful of our uncertain times, nor is He cowed by the rantings of godless regimes. There are devout Watchers like Simeon, Elizabeth, Zechariah, Mary, Joseph - all around us who are listening for His voice and sometimes we get to see the confluence of His leading in many lives. Maybe this Christmas will be a time like this for you – maybe you will realize afresh that God is at work. So keep watching, listening, praying – look for fresh Encounters!
Pastor Leon Throness
Just a reminder to have a listen to the latest Encounter podcast where we have a discussion with your two most recent elders as to God’s work in their lives and how they have come to this place. Just go on the church website, click ‘resources’, then ‘podcasts’ and there it is…