The pathway to peaceful joy
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And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” – Luke 2:22-35
My dad died after a seven month battle with lung cancer. It was a difficult time for us all. And I vividly remember the day of his death. We were able to gather at his home and the whole family gathered around his bed as he took his last breath. I prayed Simeon’s prayer, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace…” And at the end, I felt that the dying had ended. He had been dying for the previous 7 months. That was now ended. We commended my dad to God’s grace and rejoiced in God’s grace and the fact that we had seen God’s salvation through Jesus. It remains a great comfort to me.
We’re not told specifically how old Simeon was. But it seems likely that he was advanced in years. The promise that he would not die before seeing the Lord’s salvation certainly hints at that. Luke makes the point clearly a few verses later in the case of Anna. She was advanced in years. Both waited. Both were rewarded in their waiting.
The timing of God is inscrutable to me. That became clear to me when I watched The Chosen Christmas special. One of the reflections highlighted the fact that God had been silent for 400 years prior to John the Baptizer’s appearing. Moses records the first promise of the Savior (given at the dawn of time) 1500 years before Jesus is born. Over the centuries, God spoke to his people through the prophets. [And] in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son” (cf. Hebrews 1:1). But when Malachi died, so did the voice of the prophets. For 400 years God was silent. Why was he silent for those 400 years?
I have trouble waiting for next summer’s family vacation. Sometimes I have trouble waiting for dinner! But when it comes to waiting for the promises of God, we must embrace a whole new chronology. We must also engage a different means of recognizing God’s promises. For God’s salvation looks like a just-circumcised baby! Something profound is happening here. Not only is God making good on his promise of a Savior, he is also opening people’s eyes to just who this baby is, and what his birth portends.
I need these two gifts of God. I need to recalibrate my spiritual chronometer. God does not work on my schedule. I need to align myself with his timing. I also need to be open to seeing just how he is working today through people who may seem inconsequential. There is only one Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, born 2000 years ago. But there are many people who God uses each day to further the cause of his kingdom. I wonder who I might see today? Those two perspectives go far to a life of peaceful joy.