The birth of Christ, the Messiah, was no historical surprise. The inspired writers of the Old Testament scriptures had pointed to God’s breaking in on the world and, through an Anointed One, a Messiah, a Christ, deliver his people from their enemies, as well as establish a divine kingdom in which justice and righteousness would reign. But when Jesus was born, who knew? He was recognized by only a few and, over time, in fact was rejected and despised.
So it was at his birth and so it was in his life; so it is today. Christ is either unrecognized for who he is, the Messiah, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, or hated, mocked, rejected and despised.
So who did recognize Christ and how can we know Him today?
Let’s talk about a man who recognized Christ as the one promised in the Scriptures, Simeon. He is talked about in Luke 2:25-35. After Joseph and Mary had heard the news delivered by angels about the first coming of Christ, they still had to proceed as all new parents. There was the birth and then the care for the newborn child. One can imagine the couple whispering above their baby’s head, “So? We’ve heard from angels, but what should we do now?” The answer is found in Luke 3. They did exactly what God required of them, trusting that by being obedient to the word of God, by doing what the Law said to do, they would learn more.
Sure enough, in observance of the requirements of the Law, they bring Jesus to the temple for his presentation at the forty-day mark. There in the temple the hand of God is revealed through an old man named Simeon. Simeon is “righteous and devout” and the Spirit of God is with him. He immediately recognizes the baby as the promised “salvation” he would see before he died. (Interestingly, the name for Jesus in Hebrew, Yeshua, also means “salvation”).
How did Simeon know and what can he teach us today? This question will be answered tomorrow in part two of this blog. Until then, search the scriptures for the answer and feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below.