God's greatest gift: 4. Simeon – the gift of a lifetime (Luke 2:25-35)
Few gifts really change your life. Advertisers aim to convince you that the thing they want to sell is something you want. The best adverts go further, persuading you that what you want is actually something you need. Ignorance becomes desire, which becomes longing. The Old Testament prophets who foretold the future day of God’s deliverance generated longing among Israel’s faithful. Yet centuries of dashed hopes and false starts that followed the return of a remnant from Babylonian exile made their prophecies sound like a breach of the Trades Description Act. You said we’d have God’s universal peace – instead we’ve got the so-called ‘Roman peace’. We want our money back!
There were those in Israel who held stubbornly to hope and Simeon was one. Indeed God had given him a special revelation that he would not die without seeing the Messianic Age. As Mary and Joseph brought the baby into the Temple, the Spirit brought Simeon. Seeing through eyes of faith who Jesus was, Simeon clutched Him in his arms and praised God, expressing readiness to die now that he had seen God’s deliverance personified. A light had entered the world, which would shine not only to the glory of Israel but to reveal Israel’s God to the nations. Yet in this joyful moment God gave Simeon another insight – there would be opposition to God’s plan and a sword to pierce the heart of Mary. God’s universal peace could only come through apparent defeat – the cross – and subsequent victory – the resurrection.
Simeon stands as a testimony to the true value of God’s greatest gift, His Son, Jesus the Messiah. Simeon saw that the fulfilment of God’s plan and the turning point of history was a person. He knew that to see Jesus is to see salvation and to hold Jesus is to embrace it. Simeon challenges us to thank God for Jesus and to find life’s fulfilment in Him. He reminds us that Christ is a gift not just for Christmas but for life.