Simeon held Jesus, the Messiah, in his arms; this little bitty baby was going to save the world! He looked at Him in awe and wonder, and he believed.
To Simeon, the news of the Messiah’s arrival must have felt like rainfall after a long dry-spell. Israel had seen many prophets come and go, but for centuries no fresh message was received. God seemed remote and withdrawn.
In their history, Israel had been brutally subjected by empires: the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and finally the Romans. The more freedom eluded the people, the more they craved it. They called for a Redeemer who would set them free once and for all. And so it happened that, under the Roman Empire, God sent His Son Jesus.
We sometimes hear the saying: “Be careful what you wish for.” People see us pursuing a dream, but foresee a problem, should this dream ever come true. The Messiah was such a dream. God answered many prayers and Israel’s Messiah finally came to deliver the Jews – actually, He came to deliver the entire human race. This clearly went beyond everybody’s prayers and expectations. God made a wish come true, but the Son of God was not what Israel had bargained for.
Before we start pointing fingers at Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, let’s stop right here and ask ourselves this question: Don’t we all sometimes wish that God answers prayers our way? Well, if we do, then chances are we won’t recognize God’s answers to our prayers – as in Israel’s case. Of course, God is never beholden to our expectations. He knows what He is doing, and He continues to answer all our prayers His way. We can ask for His redemption – but we cannot tell Him how to redeem us. That is definitely His decision.
God has sent us Emmanuel, God with us; and God is indeed with us, albeit unbeknownst to the world. All the while God’s Spirit continues to speak to us – are we listening? When Simeon laid eyes on the Messiah in the Jerusalem temple, He believed. It’s our turn now.