SIMEON: SECRET SERVANT

Simeon

In Luke’s Gospel, as part of his “birth narrative,” he introduces us to a character called Simeon. We know almost nothing about this remarkable man. Scripture does not indicate that he was anybody special or that he held an important office or that he was of high standing in Jewish society. He was, as far as we can tell, an average man.

And yet he there was something about Simeon that struck Luke and left an impression on the Holy Spirit, the Author behind the author of this Gospel. Here in Jerusalem, the center of the great religious machine of Israel, and the center of religious corruption, God had a true believer serving Him. God always has His people where they are are needed.

The church of Jesus Christ needs loyal and devout believers, like Simeon, just as surely as they need loyal and devout clergy! Often, these righteous laypeople are like Simeon; they go largely unnoticed; most of the time they do their service with nobody watching them; they pray in private. But God sees them; God notices their service.

God notices what you are doing for Him, too. You don’t have to stand behind a pulpit to be a man or woman of God. You just have to be like Simeon: righteous; the kind of person God can trust and depend upon to do His work – often the kind of work others wouldn’t want to do or even notice needs being done.

Simeon was a man who prayed in private and served in silence. But now, his faith is about to be rewarded openly. Let’s look at this man, Simeon.

1. His character

He was righteous and devout, verse 25

It’s important to take note, again, that in times of moral and spiritual degeneracy and in places of widespread corruption and apostasy, God always has His people – His Simeons. Simeon was “righteous and devout.” Here was a man who lived an upright life, walking circumspectly through a world of sin. This kind of believer is keenly aware of God’s presence in his life and just as aware of his responsibilities as a believer in God. This kind of Christian is one who lives his life deliberately, taking advantage of every opportunity to advance the Kingdom of God.

Christians like Simeon are righteous and devout in their dealings with God, but also in their dealings with their fellow man. They treat others justly; and while they may take advantage of circumstances to share the Gospel with the lost, they don’t take advantage of anybody. They are, in all ways, holy and true to their calling as a follower of Christ.

He was waiting for the consolation of Israel

He waited and prayed because he believed – he believed that the Messiah, the “Consolation of Israel,” was going to come in his lifetime. This seems to imply that Simeon was an old man, although we are by no means certain of that fact. This wonderful man believed with all his heart in the Word of God; the ancient prophecies that foretold the coming of the Messiah. His faith was not in the Temple or the priests or in the mighty Roman government, but in God and God’s promises.

It must have been a challenge to this man’s faith. He was living with religious and political corruption all around him. Things were not good in Israel at this time. The Jews had lost all political independence. In exchange for peace and safety, Israel had lost her freedoms and was living under the heavy thumb of cruel King Herod. Their once-revered religion had been reduced to “the fine print,” hundreds of “do’s and don’ts” as prescribed by the scribes and Pharisees. The prophetic voices that once thundered across Israel were silent.

Yet in the midst of such cultural, society, and spiritual darkness, there were a few true believers, and Simeon was one. And they weren’t all men, either. Remember Elizabeth and Mary, and Anna, who is about to be added to the roll of faithful and true followers of God. Verse 38 suggests that there were, in fact, many “silent servants” living in Jerusalem:

Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:38)

Sometimes, we may get the feeling like we are all alone. It may feel like God’s people are all some place else. But rest assured, even in the darkest of hours, God has His people, and they are waiting and praying for Him to act according to His will.

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more… (Romans 5:20)

It may seem like sin is always getting the upper hand, but remember, when you see sin apparently increasing, grace is increasing all the more, in large part because of people like Simeon, faithfully waiting and praying.

He was moved by the Holy Spirit

The text does not say that Simeon was “filled” with the Holy Spirit, but he was definitely open to the moving of the Holy Spirit! Somehow, in a way not explained to us, the Holy Spirit communicated to Simeon that he would live to see the promised Messiah. Maybe he had a dream or a vision or maybe God’s Spirit spoke audibly to him. God never has a problem communicating to anybody who is listening for Him to speak.

No wonder Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as a “comforter.” If ever any people needed comfort, it were the true believers living and serving God in Jerusalem at this time. The Holy Spirit is your comforter, too. No matter what may be going on in your life, no matter how depraved and degenerated our culture may have become, the Holy Spirit is your comforter; He comes “alongside” you to be lead you and guide you in God’s perfect way.

It’s interesting to note that there is a direct correlation between having the Spirit resting on you and you waiting on the Lord. Simeon waited and prayed, and the Spirit rested on him. Maybe you feel as though you’re not experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit. That may or may not be true, but if it is, maybe it’s simply because in the hustle and bustle of your life, you’ve forgotten to wait on Him, being still in His presence.

2. His testimony

That same Holy Spirit that had revealed to Simeon that he would live to see the Messiah, now led him into the Temple courts where he would meet the Messiah. Mary and Joseph wouldn’t have been the only parents in the Temple courts that day. Other families were there, for the same purpose. Like Mary and Joseph, they were waiting to give the priests their offerings. And it into that crowd  Simeon came, found Jesus and His parents, and proceeded to praise God. Apparently not many saw or heard, only Anna.

Simeon found Christ as the salvation of God

All who seek Christ, will find Him just as surely as Simeon did, and when they find Christ, they find salvation.

For my eyes have seen your salvation… (Luke 2:30)

This was the moment Simeon had been waiting for all his life; seeing the Baby was the climax of a lifelong quest. No wonder he started praising God! His physical eyes saw a little Baby, but prophetic insight saw the salvation of the world. How different Simeon was from most other Jews, who were looking for a towering, political Messiah who would bring lasting independence and prosperity to Israel. But Simeon knew better. He saw this Messiah as Savior. Simeon knew that man’s greatest need was salvation; not just salvation for his own people, the Jews, but the world itself was and is in dire need of saving.

Simeon found Christ as the Light of the Gentiles and the glory of Israel

This man had a depth of understanding the religious leaders never dreamed of. Simeon saw in the Baby Jesus the salvation of Israel and the Light of the Gentiles. Typically Jewish, Simeon saw two classes of people on earth, Jews (God’s people) and Gentiles (not God’s people). Yet Simeon saw that the hope for both of these groups of people rested in Jesus Christ. To the Gentiles, salvation was “light.” The Gentiles, not part of any Covenant, were truly living in spiritual darkness. Gentiles had no access to the Word of God. They needed light! They needed to be pointed in the right direction.

But to Israel, the Messiah would be “the glory.” When Jesus was born, what the Jews needed was glory – all they had was oppression and humiliation. Simeon had spiritual insight to know that what all men needed was wrapped up in the Baby Jesus.

Like no one else of his day, Simeon recognized the true sovereignty of God. He knew that God’s Messiah was the Messiah of all people.

3. Mary and Joseph’s reaction

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. (Luke 2:33)

In the birth narrative, there seems to be a lot of “wondering” and “marveling” going on! What was it that amazed Mary and Joseph so much? Was it Simeon’s words of clairvoyance? It was what Simeon said about Jesus.

The angel Gabriel had said some stunning things about the Christ Child. The shepherds, too, told of the amazing things they saw and heard surrounding the birth of Jesus. But Mary and Joseph had now been told something they hadn’t understood before and never considered: in their Son rested the destiny of all mankind, not just of the Jews. Jesus Christ was and remains the only hope for all lost people.

And most marvelous of all, this news came from a stranger, a silent servant named Simeon.

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