Thursday, February 2, 2017
Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” Luke 2:22-35(NLT)
I’ve wondered often over the past 10 years about that first night of our church’s Christmas presentation. We called it Jerusalem Walk, because it was an outside walk through the old city, complete with city gates, a tax collector, beggars, lepers, cross-makers and a temple priest who was mean as a snake!
Groups of 15-20 visitors would be guided through an interactive meeting with all the townspeople and merchants. It was festive; the night air was charged with expectancy.
But I was stuck inside.
As Simeon, I waited for the groups to come inside, where I would re-enact for them the prophet’s foreboding foretelling of Jesus’ ministry and death. My speech was hopeful and leading up to joy…but ended with the ominous noise of spikes being driven into hands and feet, and then the spotlight was suddenly cast towards the back of the sanctuary, where Jesus was lifted high on the cross. But then, darkness, thick as a cloud, followed by lightning and thunder, and a sudden crack, as if a stone had been demolished. It was impressive…and I can’t deny I felt something rather special playing the part of Simeon the prophet.
Although it’s hard to describe, there was an other-ness to one group that came through. During my speech about Jesus, and how he just looked like an ordinary baby, there was a point when I told how he would grow up to be Israel’s salvation, and my eyes locked with a small child whose own eyes were wider than dinner plates. It seemed that little one was hearing this story for the first time. And suddenly, without warning, like John Wesley, I was strangely warmed on the inside, and I knew someone’s life was being touched by the story of Jesus. And there was that familiar, undeniable connection with every saint down through the ages who has ever told the old, old story.
It was witness! It was that momentary suspension of any personal preference, doctrinal persuasion, cultural prejudice or profit-driven agenda; it was that moment outside of time offering forgiveness, the love of God’s redemptive purpose.
In retrospect, I am convinced it was a moment of transformation for someone, perhaps the little girl whose name I don’t know, but whose eyes are forever imprinted on my memory. Perhaps it was God’s simple assurance for this aging pastor that the Spirit of Christ is still actively touching people with the Gospel…it is, after all, very good news!
Whatever it was that night, and who can be certain when God is in the room…it sealed for me what I’ve always known at such times – I want more of Him!
Could there be a Simeon-moment ahead for you in what you do this day? There can be if you’re willing to tell the Gospel story.