How Christmas began, 7

I HAVE SEEN YOUR SALVATION (Luke 2: 25-35).

I am Simeon. I was named after my ancestor and founder of the tribe of Simeon, second son of Jacob and Leah. My name means, “the Lord has heard.” Indeed, He heard the prayers of Leah, the mother of my tribe, but He also heard my prayers. All my life, I hoped that the Lord would let me see His Deliverer. I had devoted my life to righteous living. I opened my heart constantly to the prompting of God’ Spirit. I always sensed His presence. There were times I even could hear Him whisper. It was a message of reassurance that I should believe Moses and the Prophets. God would send us a man with His Spirit who would bring comfort (relief) to my people Israel. But my concern was, “when Lord, when Lord will you send us such a man?” How long must we wait before deliverance shall come? I was disturbed with the way my fellow men had obliterated the Law and the Prophets. Foreigners were running our country and our leaders profited from the poor. We had a king that detested us and hunted down anyone that wanted reform or to a return to the days of our great and godly king David. King Herod, our self-imposed king, kept up killing babies that were suspected to be the rightful heirs to the throne of David, especially in the surrounding area of Bethlehem where David came from. Those were some of the reasons why I wanted a sign that the Lord God would once more step into our nation’s destiny and deliver us from this grave evil.

The Lord was gracious toward me and His Spirit whispered into my heart that I would see the Man of Consolation before I died. At first, I thought that He would commission some grown man with His Spirit to lead us. But all those pretenders that appeared did not indicate that they had the presence of the Spirit of God. They were mostly warmongers and merciless bandits. Then, I began attending the dedications of babies. If He was to be another like Moses, then like Moses He has to be spared from death and be dedicated to the Lord in His Holy Place, the Temple. I cannot recall how many dedications of children I have attended. There were many and they all looked promising. They all were the first-born sons. Anyone of them could have been the Deliverer. But I felt no movement of God’s Spirit in my heart. By now I had grown old and I began to wonder whether I had misunderstood my Lord God. Many of us do when we set deadlines and cannot fulfill them. It also occurred to me that I might have seen Him yet missed Him in being overly anxious to receive a special revelation from the Lord. I labored under the impression that the Lord would use some sign that would point to a certain individual. Well, none of my anticipations came through.

One day, I felt rather renewed as if something very remarkable would happen. Whenever I had such elated feelings I would go to the Temple and share them with the Lord. During this particular time, the priest was dedicating a baby boy. His humble parents, an older man and a rather young woman, were offering up two young pigeons. Right there and then, the Spirit of the Lord urged me to go, pick up the child, hold it in my arms and bless it. When I took the baby boy in my arms, my mouth opened and I began to say words, not of my own prompting. “Now, Supreme Lord and according to your words (promise), let your servant depart in peace; for my eyes have seen your salvation; that You have prepared before all people, a light of disclosure to the gentiles and a light of glory to the people of Israel.”

The parents of the child named Jesus were amazed at what I had said. I felt that I had to bless them and when I touched the young mother, known as Mary, a jolt went through my body. More words were placed in my mouth. These were painful words – words I had not anticipated. He was not going to be the kind of Deliverer people were hoping for. He would not unite the people but divide them. The people will turn against Him because He will point out their sins and the need for repentance. He will not be a man of war but one of peace. What hurt me even more was what I had to say to this young mother. Still she listened attentively as I spoke the following words, “Behold this One has been set for the fall and rise of many in Israel, as a sign (reason) to oppose and to disclose what is hidden in many hearts. And a mighty sword will pierce your heart.”

My last words to that delicate and young mother were no comfort. Who wants to go through life feeling constantly that at anytime a sword would bring pain to her heart? It would have been wonderful if I could have said good things about Her Son. Why did the Lord just let me see the baby without making me say those words about division, opposition and the sword? I went home with a heavy burden in my heart. The contentment and peace did not come with the revelation of God’s Savior. How could I feel at ease when I told the young mother that she had to live on the edge of the very thought that something terrible would happen to Her Son? Could our Almighty God not pick a simpler way of salvation? Could He not just send several legions of angels and convert all of us? Why must He leave deliverance in the hands of man and in particular in the hands of a helpless baby? Why must men like Moses, the Prophets and now the Baby Jesus face opposition from those that need redemption most of all? There were endless questions with no answers, only more puzzles. The more I meditated on my questions, the more helpless I became. Then it came me. Why do I worry over what God only can resolve. If He wants to lead us through a baby then I am willing to accept it. After all, He did save Moses from the hand of Pharaoh, Elijah from Jezebel and He most certainly can keep Jesus safe from the bloodthirsty King Herod. How else could He send us a Savior without arousing the Romans and our leaders that wanted no Jewish King? God knew what He was doing.