Simeon: A Witness of Birth of Jesus Christ?
The birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated, revered, as a marvel to each of us. His coming was long prepared for, eagerly awaited, by people on earth and those in the heavens. The birth of Jesus Christ was anticipated by those who were holy saints, seeking to live by the promises of the Old Testament. Simeon was one who received a revelation regarding the birth of Jesus Christ and who lived to see Him in the flesh.
In the words of one scholar:
Our attention now turns to Jerusalem and its temple. There an aged man, described by Luke as “just and devout,” one who in faith had awaited the coming of the Messiah and who had received the promise of the Lord that he would not die until he had seen the Savior, was moved upon by the Holy Spirit to go to the temple. His is the first testimony within the sacred walls of the temple of which we have records that announced the birth of Jesus Christ. Appropriately, he bore the name Simeon, which means “hearing” (see Genesis 29:33). Indeed, God had heard his righteous plea, and now his prayer was to be answered.
Thus Simeon was there to greet parents and child as they entered the temple–Mary for the ritual of cleansing, and Joseph to pay the tax which redeemed the firstborn from priestly service. Simeon took the child in his arms and, praising God, said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of the people; a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).
Simeon’s declaration, which came by the spirit of prophecy, reached far beyond the understanding and hope of those of his nation–for he saw the universal nature of Jesus Christ’s ministry and attested that He was Savior to Jew and Gentile alike. Had his words fallen upon the ears of a Pharisee, they would have been greeted with shouts of heresy!
Then Simeon blessed Joseph and Mary and said to Mary regarding the birth of this babe, the birth of Jesus Christ: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel: and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword may pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Would that we knew all else that he spoke, including the words of blessing pronounced upon the couple in whose custody the Child was placed.
Always–as we shall see throughout this whole work–there was more uttered orally to those who then lived, usually far more, than was recorded and preserved for those who should thereafter hear the accounts. At least we know that Simeon and his message would divide the house of Israel; that men would rise or fall as they accepted or rejected Jesus’ words; that He was a sign or standard around which the righteous would rally; and that Mary, who now had joy in the growing life of the infant Son, would soon be pierced with the sword of sorrow as she saw Him during his waning hours on the cross of Calvary.