Kind of an aside: I appreciate the places in scripture (such as the census in verses 1-3) that anchor the story in place and time. Not only do they provide us a backdrop for the action, they are concrete references to historical people and events that are verifiable through other records. Just what you’d expect of a true story.
I was surprised, when reading about Simeon, to realize that he was just a guy. My incorrect memory was that he was a priest or prophet, some official who had a role at the temple. But he was a layman, albeit a very faithful Jew who “was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.”
Simeon is so in tune with the Holy Spirit that he hears from him. And he not only hears, but he heeds the prompting that leads him to the temple—just so that he could be at the right time and place when Joseph and Mary bring in Jesus for dedication. His spirit is so uncluttered with his own agenda and opinions that he is used as a conduit for prophesy: “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
I’m so fascinated by this process, by what it means to be so attuned to the guidance of the Spirit to be able to hear and to speak truth. How eagerly do I await for the Messiah to come and rescue all of us—those who believe and who are “in” and those still lost? How expectant am I for Jesus’s return, compared to my to-do list of obligations and goals? Simeon longed for justice and for the rescue of the Israel so eagerly that he was seen, heard, and used by God himself. And he was just a guy.
I want that too. I really, really want that. I want the clutter of my mind, all the petty wants and striving to be swept away. I want to be consumed by the desire to see Jesus, to be part of the rescue. I’m just a gal, and all I have to offer is this wanting. I’m so grateful that Simeon was in the right place and time to have his own desire met, to offer truth to Mary and Joseph, and to be included as an example of what the Holy Spirit can and will do through us little guys.