My Christmas Mentor
I grew up hearing the great Christmas stories of the Bible. At a very early age I knew about Mary’s ride on a donkey, the over-crowded town of Bethlehem, the star that guided the Magi, the shepherds in the fields at night, and the angels who praised God with the heavenly hosts. The scenes in my young mind were rich and full of boisterous action, pungent smells and expressive worship.
There is, however, a quieter Christmas story that until recently had limited impact on my life. Perhaps I overlooked it due to the lack of exciting imagery (there aren’t any animals or angels in this story). But nestled between the angel’s late night proclamation of Jesus’ birth and the camel-riding Magi in search of the King is a story about an expectant guy in a musty temple that challenges me not only at Christmas, but throughout the whole year.
Simeon met baby Jesus when He was just 40 days old. Mary and Joseph had traveled to Jerusalem, with God in their arms, because Jewish law required that the first born son be brought to the Temple to be dedicated to the Lord. Jesus’ young mother brought a burnt offering and a sin offering for her own atonement and purification rights.
In the brief ten-verse encounter recorded in Luke 2:25-35, we not only hear Jesus’ deity proclaimed again, but we learn a great deal about a patient, faithful man who walked intimately with the Lord.
Now there was a man named Simeon who lived in Jerusalem. He was a righteous man and very devout. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he eagerly expected the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple…( Luke 2:25-27a).
Simeon, whose name means “Heralding,” wasn’t just in the right place at the right time - an unassuming target to receive this revelation and word of knowledge from God. He didn’t just decide to go for a walk that particular day. Luke tells us that Simeon was filled with the Spirit, righteous, devout, expectant, watching, waiting, following the Spirit’s lead.
Simeon was prepared for God’s mission that day. He lived a prepared life of continual Spirit in-filling, obedience, virtue, honor and justice. Simeon’s faith in God and his knowledge of Scripture was matched by his anxious expectancy to herald its fulfillment. While most in Israel believed Messiah was coming to redeem them, Simeon unselfishly understood God’s bigger picture and proclaimed that Jesus “is a light to reveal God to the Nations…” He spoke prophetically, unafraid to follow the Lord’s lead, boldly proclaiming the coming of Messiah in the Temple courtyard for all to hear, and gently but directly relaying the difficult message to Mary, “And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
While the Light of the World was carried into the Temple in His parents’ arms, a bold, sensitive, patient, astute, devout, expectant, Spirit-filled, Scripture-knowing, prophetic man of God was prepared to be used to bring God’s revelatory truth to all who would hear.
This is the message that challenges me this Christmas time and into the New Year. Christ has come; this we remember and celebrate. It is I who must be devoutly prepared to herald His arrival, and in that regard, Simeon is my Christmas mentor.