As I re-read this post from December 11, 2013, I realized it is even more true for me now than it was when I wrote it three years ago. May you, dear readers, also long for a heart like Simeon’s.
I want to be more like Simeon. He knew his priorities, he had a ton of faith, and he knew how to wait. Luke says that he was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). In other words, he was waiting for Israel’s promised Messiah. He was an old man. I get the idea that his main reason to get out of bed every morning was the hope that this might be the day Messiah would come—the day he had prayed for all his life.
Simeon hung in there. It had been more than 400 years since the last promise about Israel’s consolation had been given. It’s questionable just how many people were still holding onto that hope. I mean, four centuries is a long time. For me, if something I’m waiting for doesn’t happen after a few weeks or months, I’m prone to give up and move on to Plan B. But Simeon never stopped hoping and waiting for what God had promised.
I am sure that Simeon’s faith pleased God. Why? For one thing, when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple, Simeon was the first person to whom God revealed the incredible news. The Holy Spirit personally revealed to Simeon that this little Baby was the One, the Messiah, the child on whom the hope of the entire world hinged. We can’t help but sense his joy when he holds God’s Promise—all seven or eight pounds or so of Him—in his arms.
“Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:28-32).
We, too, are waiting for the Messiah. It’s been a long time—centuries—for us, too. I have to admit that waiting and praying for His coming are not usually on my front burner. I’m not at the temple every day (as it were) straining my eyes and begging heaven for His return. I haven’t actually given up on His coming—I know that someday He will come back—but it’s all too easy for me to busy myself with other things, to settle down and try to make the best of things here in this broken world. I definitely don’t think about His coming all the time like Simeon apparently did.
God probably wishes I would, though. After all, Paul says that there is even a special crown–the crown of righteousness—that the Lord will give to all who have eagerly waited and longed for Jesus’ appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).
But what might that hoping and praying and longing look like?
I think it might involve a deep longing to be with Jesus. Sure, He is present with us now, though the Holy Spirit. He is near. He speaks to us. We see Him working. But still, it’s not the same as seeing Him face to face. It might be the difference between a Skype conversation and sitting next to a loved one on the couch. I want to be with Jesus up close like that.
I also think it is a deep longing to have His kingdom come fully and His will be done fully here on earth as it is in heaven. We get glimpses of that from time to time, but the full realization of it will only happen when He comes the second time.
And I think it is a deep longing to be like Him. Yes, bit by bit, we are being transformed into His likeness. But it is only when He appears that “we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
There’s probably a lot more reasons to long for His appearing, but those are enough for me to get me started. Thinking about what it will be like when He comes again really does stir my heart. And so a good Advent prayer for me has become “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). That, and “Lord, give me a heart like Simeon’s, that won’t be content until I see You face to face.”