People of the Nativity – Day 7

Simeon

Forty days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for the purification rites. It was standard practice for Hebrew women to present a son at the Temple and offer a sacrifice (Luke 2:24).

At the Temple, they met Simeon. It’s assumed he was an old man, though we are not told this, and neither does Luke tell us whether he was rich or poor. However, there is one important thing we know about Simeon, and that is that day by day, as he lived and worked, he was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25).

“Consolation” here comes from the Greek word that can be translated as “comfort”. Comfort, or consolation, is also what the prophet Isaiah promised exiles who had lost everything. The comfort that the Lord proclaimed, through Isaiah, included the promise of a homecoming and the assurance that the people’s hard service was completed and their sins were paid for.

In other words, Simeon, unlike most of his countrymen who has long since given up, was waiting for the Messiah.

Simeon apparently had no plans to go to the temple that day. God, however, thought otherwise. We don’t know what moved him to go — a call from a neighbour, an invitation from his wife, a nudging within the heart — but somehow Simeon knew to clear his calendar and go to church. And once he got there, he knew exactly why. The Messiah for whom he waited so long, was here.

Waiting isn’t something we’re terribly good at these days. When we wait it seems all we’re doing is standing around getting nothing done. Being a Christian means waiting – and waiting patiently. Patience comes with faith (2 Timothy 3:10; Hebrews 6:12) — faith for the moment, and hope towards the future.

Let’s learn from Simeon this Christmas. God doesn’t require us to rush around, becoming increasingly stressed and anxious, he requires us to wait.