From: Su Min
Subject: 23.12 Jesus, in the eyes of Simeon
CYBERCHURCHIANSMonday 23rd December 1996
GREETINGSTo my new friends at Antioch.com.sg and my extended family in cyberspace. Greetings in the name of Jesus!
My friend Helen in Manila sent this beauty which I am inspired to share with you:
Wishing you and your loved ones a Christ-filled holidays and a blessed New Year. Helen S. Ramos
If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been techno- logy, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Saviour, J E S U S!
THE TEXTChristmas is upon us. I am drawn to the hymn of praise offered by Simon as recorded in Luke_2:21-35. Do open your bible to this passage: read and be blessed by the Word of God.
THE SETTINGJesus had just been born in Bethlehem. The angel Gabriel had already told Mary that he was to be named "Jesus". The Jewish law and custom dictated that the boys are circumcised on the 8th day. Hence Luke_2:21. The first born son is to be presented to the Lord, just after a month of age. Joseph and Mary bring Infant Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem for the dedication ceremony.(Luke_2:22-24). Well to do families would have a great sacrifice: a lamb, but the less well to do were allowed to sacrifice a pair of pigeons (Leviticus_12:8)
SIMEONNow there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. (Luke_2:25)
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. (Luke_2:26)
Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the Child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God. (Luke_2:27-28)
NUNC DIMMITIS"Now you are letting your servant depart in peace, Sovereign Lord, as you have promised." (Luke_2:29)
Simeon's song of blessing is called "Nunc Dimmitis" from the first two words in the text as in the Vulgate (Latin Bible). "Nunc Dimmitis" literally translates "Now you are letting...depart". Simeon has spent his whole life anticipating the glory of seeing Jesus. The moment is now here. He know that after this he can die in peace. He holds Baby Jesus in his arms. He sings his song of praise.
"For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all people" (Luke_2:30-31)
God's salvation was not merely some invisible mystic nebulous force, but was visible, in the form of a person, a baby born to be King. Simeon had seen the baby as promised: for he had waited to see the Messiah, and had been promised by the Holy spirit that he would do so before departing from this earth. God's salvation, in the form of the Son of God born as Son of Man, was now visible to all people. Simeon has seen and held Him in his arms. Simeon was satisfied. Simeon had peace. Simeon blessed God. Simeon was now ready to go to meet his Maker.
"a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory to your people Israel" (Luke_2:32)
I rejoice with Simeon to know that Jesus came as a light for revelation to the Gentiles. I am a Gentile. I am not a Jew. I am not an Israelite. Yet we know that the household puppies are allowed to gather the crumbs from under the Master's table. Repeatedly through the bible we are told of the place we, the Gentiles, have, side by side with the chosen people of God. We too are children of light as we accept the Lordship of Jesus in our lives.
PARENT'S RESPONSEThe child's father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. (Luke_2:33) What had been spoken by the angels was now reinforced by a devout man. A third party human confirmation of what had been prophesied by the angels. They marvelled at God's faithfulness and fidelity.
A VISION, A PROPHECY Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.
And a sword will pierce your own soul too"
This triple prophecy was to be lived out within 3 decades. Jesus would have many disciples, but there would be others against him. Indeed Jesus was a sign from God, showing us that God is love: people would reveal by their words, on which side of the fence they stood. Blessed Mary would witness her son suffering death on the cross.
BIG LESSONWe are not told very much about Simeon.
We do know he was
- a relatively insignificant person,
- lived in Jerusalem,
- just, meaning he had noble relationship with men
- devout, meaning he had a noble relationship with God
- waited with great expectation for the "Consolation of Israel",
- promised by the Holy Spirit that he would see The Messiah before he died.
Notice how it is Simeon who greets and recognises the Infant Jesus as The Messiah.
The scribes and Pharisees, the teachers of the law, the temple priests and high priests are nowhere to be found. Should they have known better? Should they not have had the spiritual insight to know of this momentous occasion? Should they not have had the spiritual insight to recognise the infant as the Messiah when they saw him. Perhaps they should have, but fact is they did not!
They had eyes that did not perceive. And we, when we hear about Jesus, do we have ears that hear?
So Simeon, relatively unheard of, rises to the occasion, then fades way to obscurity. He prepared himself well for the task, just and devout, he was faithful, obedient, patient, guided by the Holy Spirit, alert: when the great occasion came, he recognised Jesus, and blessed God for it, then we hear no more about him.
Perhaps there is a lesson for us here: that God would have us emulate Simeon. We are to go about our daily business in a low profile manner. We are to be just. We are to be devout. We are to be expectant. We are to be obedient. We are to be sensitive to the guidance from the Holy Spirit. We may have to wait many decades before we are called upon for our one great act. When the time comes to act we must act boldly: Need we hear Mordecai's encouragement to Esther? "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther_4:14)
God in His perfect timing will place you at the right place and at the right time. And after the act, many of us will fade away into relative obscurity, not needing the adulations of man, but comforted in knowing that we have been obedient to God's will. Dear Brother Simeon has a lot to teach us.
As you come away from the Christmas scene, carry the joy of having seen the Messiah, God's anointed one, The Christ. If you have been saved, go tell others about The Saviour. Go into the world with obedience, seeking to do Our Father's will.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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