And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 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. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed – and a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
// Luke 2:25-35
In this passage, Simeon received a remarkable promise and experienced a remarkable event, when the Holy Spirit told him he wouldn’t die until he had seen the Messiah. As well as its literal meaning, this promise also includes an allegorical one: you won’t see death until you look at the Christ. Jesus came expressly to become our salvation, which would include His own death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit was promising to Simeon that when he looked at Jesus, looked at the Lord’s salvation for the world, he would see that His death would end all sin, death and shame for humanity, for all time. The death of the power of Death was written into the face of an innocent Infant, only a few days old.
Notice how Simeon got to the Temple. He didn’t walk to it, he didn’t take a camel or a horse, nor did he have the luxury of the MTA as an option. No, he took a different mode of transit all together. The Lord repeated with Simeon what He did with Ezekiel: He transported him from where he was in Jerusalem to the Temple, where he could find the Christ. So Simeon was just having a coffee on a Tuesday in a Jerusalem cafe and the next moment he found himself in the courtyard of the Temple with the Holy Spirit. He was simply, supernaturally transported. Now that’s a good Tuesday!
What can we learn from Simeon’s part of this narrative? Firstly, we each have a promise to see the Lord’s salvation, if we will look for it in the most unlikely form of packaging. For Simeon, it was in the face of an Infant. Secondly, the Lord will get us from where we are to where we need to be, in a split second, in order to fulfill His promises to us. We need only to trust Him and live devoutly to Him, and we can be assured we will always get to where we need to be to see Jesus and receive the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Lastly, when our eyes are opened, as were Simeon’s, we will see the consequences of receiving Christ into our lives. His arrival in our world will mean that everything shifts: some will rise due to humility, some will fall over their own pride, and our lives lived by faith in Christ will uncover the secret thoughts of the hearts of all around us. In other words, to follow Christ is to create an unsanitized scandal all around us. But this can be a good thing: others, too, will see His salvation revealed in the unlikely “packaging” of our faces and lives.