Advent Reading for Today: December 20
25And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
29“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30For my eyes have seen Your salvation
31Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
During Jesus’ ministry, He was known to have picked up little children and hold them in His arms. He would hold them and bless them (Mark 9:36; 10:16). Jesus welcomed the little children (Mark 10:14) then and now, and this is wonderful. However, there was a time when Jesus Himself was a little child and someone scooped Him up in his arms and uttered a blessing (Luke 2:28). This man’s name was Simeon, and he is the man we just read about.
Simeon had been waiting to see Jesus, and some think that he was a very old man by this time. We really do not know how old he was, but from his words, we know he is ready to die, and die in peace: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word” (2:29). Here was Simeon, holding the baby Jesus in his arms and calling upon the Lord. Simeon’s eyes looked upon the salvation that had been promised, and was now (somehow!) in his arms. The Holy Spirit had assured Simeon that he would not die before seeing the promised Messiah, “the Consolation of Israel.”
“And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”
Simeon had longed to see this day, he lived for it, and he would now peacefully die because of it. It was on that very same day that Joseph and Mary and Jesus were in the temple to offer a sacrifice when the Spirit sent Simeon into the temple too. This is when he met Jesus.
For Simeon, this was a day of life and death, and life. Simeon looked in the face of Jesus; and as he did so he was full of life and ready to die. Simeon was holding Life in his arms, while at the same time he was approaching death. The Lord’s promises have been realized (again!); and while the dying face of Simeon is looking into the face of Jesus, he proclaims that this life is not some simple and private matter only for one elderly man. No, this is for the entire world: “a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
—Pastor Jeff Niell, Emmanuel Covenant Church, Glendale, Arizona
Grant, O Lord, that we adhere to Jesus, the Savior of the nations, with a tenacity throughout our years, so that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. Train us in our youth and sustain us in our old age so that we may love You and display our confidence in Your promises. AMEN.
Noting the example of Simeon, discuss the importance of living lives of devotion based upon the sure word of the Lord, asking how this promotes confidence in life and death. Sing: The Song of Simeon (also known as Nunc Dimittis, which are the first two words of Simeon’s blessing in Latin, meaning “now dismiss”), and/or Comfort, Comfort Ye My People. (See next pages.)