And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 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. So he came by 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, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You can let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation.
Notice… he was waiting for “The Consolation of Israel.” That could’ve looked like anything! A king, a magistrate, a warrior… but then a baby walks through the door and he’s like – THERE IT IS! My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation!
Wow. I’m in awe! God give me a heart like Simeon. Talk about in tune!
What could account for that?
Well, look at how many times this passage talks about the Holy Spirit.
- And the Holy Spirit was upon him.
- And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
- So he came by the Spirit into the temple
The take away? We need the Holy Spirit to recognize Jesus!
And the thing I find fascinating is that many Bible Commentators will tell you that Simeon was the son of Hillel, the most celebrated doctor of the law since the time of Moses, and that Simeon himself was a Pharisee. A Pharisee! And not any ole Pharisee but the president of the Sanhedrin! And it turns out that Simeon was the father of Gamaliel – the very teacher of a young man by the name of Saul of Tarsus. So, you see, Simeon was from a rich lineage of Pharisees.
But, whereas the Pharisees had such a difficult time recognizing Jesus, there were a few that did. Simeon, as we can see, was definitely one. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea were a couple of others.
What made the difference?
I can think of a few things.
- Simplicity – A Pharisees life can be so complex. The outward trappings, the pleasing of men, trying to do things by the book… all served to entangle them and cloud their eyes. But, it was the simple people who didn’t have a lot of hang-ups that seemed to be the first to recognize Jesus. I love what 2 Corinthians 11:3 says: Avoid corrupting you minds from the simplicity that is in Christ. And Jesus Himself said, the pure in heart will see God. Keep it simple.
- Impartiality – To have open eyes like Simeon there could be no partiality. In Matthew 25:45 Jesus says, As as you did it to the least of these, you did it to Me. Problem is “least” is not an attractive word. It doesn’t naturally get our attention; it doesn’t turn our head. But to have an eye out for Jesus is to have an eye out for the the least – the least in rank, importance, amount, authority, and size. The small, the insignificant, the ordinary, and the undesirable. I love what Mother Teresa once said: “The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved – they are Jesus in disguise. We must not serve the poor as if they were Jesus. We must serve them because they are Jesus.” Somehow we have to remember that it doesn’t have to be significant to be God!
- Alertness – Mark 16:12 says that as they walked Jesus appeared in another form and went into the country. Have you noticed that sometimes Jesus shows up in different ways? If we’re always looking for the same form then we’re gonna be left behind. I don’t want to be stuck in the same old form(ula). Walking with Jesus is not formulaic; it’s dynamic and ever changing – which is probably a good thing! Because when we become too familiar with anything we start to tune it out. As you walk with God, tomorrow will not be the same as today. Never try to stick Jesus into a form – He won’t fit. Never try to bottle the presence of God – it won’t work. He always shows up in different times and different ways by the leading of His Spirit. So we need to stay on our toes and be sharp.
So the question is… will we recognize the hand of God at work? Or will we (like most of the Pharisees) oppose the move and the will of the Lord?
Jesus manifested Himself in the flesh… and now He comes to us today by the moving of His Spirit. If we love Him, stay alert, keep a simple heart and treat all equally, then I believe we are in a great position, like Simeon, to recognize Jesus when He appears.