DAY 19: THE GLORY OF THE LORD ACCORDING TO SIMEON
La gloria del Señor según Simeón
Spanish | Luke 2:25–35
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout.
He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.
– Luke 2:25
A feature of Facebook displays memories from previous years. This is especially meaningful during Christmas. Quite frankly, I cannot help but feel a lump in my throat when a picture of deceased, beloved relatives pops up. In my family, we mourn their absence and grieve over their thwarted plans. They might have died without seeing what they longed to see, worked to see, or expected to see. Unfulfilled expectations produce pain. And Simeon’s narrative almost leaves this taste in our mouths, too.
Simeon is a faithful old man who longs to see the consolation of Israel before he dies. To a first–century Jew, the consolation of Israel speaks of a king (or saviour) who would re–establish the Davidic dynasty by exercising military power—what Israel longed to see! To Roman occupiers, the consolation of Israel might hint at threats to their rule, if not outright rebellion—what Rome did not want to see!
Enabled by the Spirit, Simeon sees what both Jews and Gentiles should see. The kingdom starts with Israel—indeed, God’s long–awaited promise is fulfilled through Israel—but it extends to the Gentiles (including Roman citizens!). In Jesus, God has fulfilled His promise in a way that the naked eye cannot recognise: the kind of king, the nature of the kingdom, and the scope of the people are all surprising.
Likewise, the nature of the problem is almost impossible to spot without the Spirit’s help. Jews and Gentiles share the same captivity: not to Rome, but to sin. What led Israel to captivity in the first place was their sin, i.e., their unfaithfulness to God. Both groups need to experience salvation; they need to be rescued from the power of sin.
But the solution is even more remarkable. When Simeon encounters Jesus, God’s Messiah is a baby, not a warrior. Jesus hadn’t done anything yet (He was just a helpless little child), but Simeon shouts that he has already seen God’s salvation (past tense)! Simeon recognizes this baby’s arrival as the inbreaking of God’s kingdom; he sees God’s unexpected and gigantic move from heaven to earth, from invisibility to visibility. In Simeon’s eyes, this first foothold guarantees God’s final victory. Jesus’s presence guarantees God’s salvation so securely that Simeon can see it as accomplished. In Jesus’s birth, the consolation of Israel has taken place (even if there is more to see).
Simeon meets the king wrapped in diapers, and this encounter transforms the weary old man. Although Simeon’s outward circumstances didn’t change and this salvation didn’t protect him from harm or death, Simeon gets to see things God’s way. Seeing God’s salvation rescues us from a purely human perception, utterly unaware of God’s presence in the world. Jesus’s salvation changes how we see death, and it keeps us from seeing our thwarted plans from an earthly and simply materialistic perspective. By the Spirit, Simeon can walk confidently into what others would consider darkness. Although he is nearing the end of his life, death is not a frightening abyss because of his encounter with the infant Saviour. God’s people now face their circumstances with hope since the Saviour has arrived.
The same Spirit that enabled Simeon to see God’s rescuing plan in its inception enables us to enter this reality ourselves this Christmas. Seeing God’s salvation is seeing what God is up to in the world. God’s ways run counter to our values and cultural priorities. We need help to see that God reveals His glory through weakness.
I pray that God’s consolation—Jesus, the King, manifested to Simeon (and us) in weakness—will become visible to our atheist friends, colleagues with terminal illnesses, parents mourning a child’s death, and siblings going through financial bankruptcy. And for Christians, may it be a reminder that we have already seen God’s salvation (not only in the crib but on the cross and at the empty tomb). God’s salvation is so secured that we can see what is yet to come as accomplished. May the Spirit allow us to see how rich and blessed we already are by being united to Christ, the Saviour.
DR OSCAR JIMÉNEZ
Dr Oscar Jiménez completed his seminary degree under Langham Scholar Dr Milton Acosta at the Seminario Bíblico de Colombia in Medellín. He currently serves as the Senior Pastor of a Hispanic church in London and also trains and mentors diaspora leaders among the Hispanic community in Europe.