The days after Christmas are some of my favorite days in the year. If the weeks leading up to Christmas are a continual intake of air, culminating in an explosion of wrapping paper, cookies, and candle-lit Silent Nights, the days after Christmas are a long, slow exhale filled with reflection on the closing year and anticipation of the year to come. Maybe that’s why I like to ruminate on Simeon and Anna (although she’s not in this post), those ancient players in the closing scene of our Christmas tableau.
Identifying with I AM
We know so little about Simeon. We don’t know what tribe he claimed, what sort of family he had, or how old he was. But what we do know is the most important thing about him. He was righteous and devout. His identity (at least from this distance) is wrapped up in his relationship with God.
Story Break: What is the first thing people say about you? I pray that people say of me, “She loves Jesus” before they say anything about my career, my family, or my status in society.
Living with Expectancy
Simeon’s faithfulness over the years had created an enviable intimacy with God. Here we are, thirty-three years before Jesus sends the Comforter (a.k.a. the Holy Spirit; John 14:16-17, 26), and Luke says the Holy Spirit was already on Simeon. That means he operated in God’s will on a daily basis as he heard from the Holy Spirit and obeyed. As a result (and maybe as a reward), God promised him that he would see the Messiah before he died. In faith, Simeon believed the Lord before it ever happened and, like Abraham, God credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
Mary wasn’t the only expectant one
in the Christmas story.
When Simeon got the impression that he should go to the temple that particular day (2:27), he knew something was going on. Perhaps it wasn’t the first time God had called him there. Perhaps on other days he had ministered to the needy, counseled the hurting, or just spent the day in worship. Regardless, he knew there was a purpose in the calling, and he entered with expectancy.
Story Break: I used to think such a relationship with God/the Holy Spirit was a New Testament thing, some remarkable outpouring of the Spirit meant for that time. As I’ve grown in understanding how God works in the world, however, I have personally experienced that kind of leading…that urge to go to a certain place or speak to a certain person. It’s not mysticism or mental instability. It’s a clear impulse of the Holy Spirit that’s distinguishable from your own good ideas. There’s no “ought to” guilt or “have to” compulsion, just an impression or an implanted knowledge which results in obedience. When that happens (which is not as often as I would like), I automatically start looking around for what God is doing in that place or with that person. The prayer is, “Okay God, you brought me here. What now?” I expect something to happen because God is clearly at work.
Proof of the Promise
When Simeon saw the Baby Jesus, the Holy Spirit worked in his heart so that he recognized Jesus as the Messiah. In Him, Simeon held proof of the long-ago promise: the personal promise to him that he would see the Messiah before he died, and the universal promise that all nations will be blessed through Abraham (Genesis 12:1-2).
Simeon’s statement of praise gives us further evidence of this. He was expectant on a universal, for-all-time scale, saying, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel (2:32). He was also expectant on a personal, daily scale; my eyes have seen your salvation (2:30).
As a Christ-follower repeatedly obeys, he or she comes to see more and more of God’s plan unfolded on both scales, and that person begins to expect to see God working.
Obedience generates expectancy.