Saturday, December 24, 2011
The Great Consolation
The Consolation of
…that’s what Simeon was waiting for. Israel
Reading the account in Luke of Simeon’s encounter with the infant Jesus is like witnessing someone opening the best Christmas present ever. Simeon had been waiting his whole life to meet the Messiah. The Holy Spirit communicated an astonishing truth to him at some point…maybe while he was playing stick ball on a dusty Jerusalem street…maybe when he was polishing up some brass candelabra for the temple…maybe when he was reading the scrolls in “Hebrew school”. This prophet who bridges the chasm between the old covenant and the new got the revelation: “He’s coming, Simeon. And you won’t die until you see his face.”
I’m not sure, but somehow I don’t think Simeon was expecting the Christ to be unwrapped from the particular package he arrived in. Most Jews of the time thought Messiah would appear as an earthly king. Powerful. Wealthy. Stunning. When an ordinary Jewish carpenter and his young wife entered the temple with their baby, it had to be God Himself once more communicating with Simeon. Perhaps the old man heard this in his prophetic ears: “Here he is, son. Look upon the face of your deliver…”
However it all went down, this was the seminal moment of Simeon’s life. I can just imagine it. He takes Jesus in his arms, and blesses the one who was his consolation. Consolation for all the darkness, sadness, loss and fear Simeon carried as a result of the Fall. Consolation for the 400 years of silence between God and his fickle, wandering people. Consolation, indeed, for the whole world, including the pagan Gentiles. How I wish I could have been a fly on the wall in the temple. Mary and Joseph (who have already had some wild prophetic visions of their own) are finding out for the first time that Jesus is not only going to be the salvation of the Jews, but of THE WHOLE WORLD. Luke says that “Mary and Joseph marveled at the things which were spoken of Him.”
The recorded encounter of Simeon with Jesus Christ is concluded with Simeon hinting to Mary of her future suffering, and declaring that this simple child from the tribe of Judah will precipitate the fall and rising of many in Israel, and be a sign that will be spoken against, that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. If you really think about all of that, your brain will explode. In this helpless, dependent, fully human being there will be such an intimacy with individual people, that the innermost thoughts and intents of their hearts will be known by this God-Man.
Jesus did not come to save the masses. He came to save you. And me. He came for all the individual hearts that make up the many. He didn’t leave one soul out of the mix in His mind boggling plan of redemption and glory. He entered this broken world to make “the crooked straight and the rough places plain.” He was not only the consolation of Simeon, and the consolation of
, and the consolation of the Gentiles…but your consolation. He did not come as a rich monarch from heaven (which He is, by the way), but as a humble Judean kid actually wrapped up in rags and sleeping in an animal’s feeding trough. God understood it would be no consolation to us to have a Savior unacquainted with the hardships, struggles, irritations and disasters of this life. No, a true consoler is one who knows…one who shares the burden...one who enters in to be a help. Israel
In eternity yet to come, we will no longer need consolation. There, far from the days of sin and darkness, Jesus will be revealed as the Mighty One of Israel, and all will be joy every minute of every timeless day. But while we continue to walk the pilgrim road to home, what a Christmas present it is all the time to be loved by the Great Consolation Himself. I pray God will cause each of us to “marvel at the things that were spoken of Him.”
Merry, Merry Christmas.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,