Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:25-32 ESV)
The final wish of a dying person often can tell us a lot about what they value in life. There are those who fought on distant battlefields in their youth and want nothing more than to return and pay one last visit to the place that claimed the lives of so many of their friends. There are those who poured their lives into their families and want nothing more than to be surrounded by all of their children as they pass from this life. There are those who tragically destroyed relationships with old friends and want nothing more than to see them so that they might make amends with weeping and tears and find sweet reconciliation before they die.
But as much as God’s righteous saints might also desire these earthly pleasures, the greatest desire of the Christian who has been born again into the family of God is to see the Lord’s Christ—Jesus. Old Simeon could not pass from this life in peace until he had feasted his eyes on the one who would bring consolation to the hearts of God’s people. But Simeon was not looking for a mighty warrior to bring deliverance from the tyrannical oppression of a foreign army. No, this devout saint anticipated something more, for he saw in Isaiah’s vision of God’s servant (Is 42:6-7; 49:6) that the Christ would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” And though he never lived to see the glory of the resurrected Christ and how God would save the world through him, he was content with the vantage point that God had given him in salvation history. Simeon had only a short glimpse, a tiny amount of time to hold in his hands God’s masterplan of salvation, yet this glimpse of Jesus gave him unimaginable peace!
But though righteous Simeon had the privilege of seeing firsthand the humble glories of the incarnated God-man, are we not as Christians more blessed than him? Though we have not seen him, we love him and believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible (1 Pet 1:8)! Though we are not first-century citizens of Jerusalem, was not the crucifixion of Jesus Christ publicly portrayed before our very eyes as we heard the preaching of God’s Word (Gal 3:1)? Are we not also recipients of the Spirit of adoption who has sealed us for the day of redemption, and who declares to our anxious hearts that we are indeed children of God (Rom 8:16)? We who live on this side of the cross are witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and to God’s ironclad promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church! Simeon never heard the words of Jesus himself as he preached, but we who have Bibles in our hands and hearts have heard the voice of the Good Shepherd speak into our souls! And if we have been privileged to see beyond what this old saint was permitted to see, are not our peace and joy greater than his?
Christian, do your life’s troubles weigh on you so heavily that you daily cry out for relief? Let the Lord Jesus part the clouds of sorrow in your life and give you a glimpse of his glory so that he might remind you that his yoke is easy and his burden is light to bear. Are you grieved over the sins that you have committed this last week? Let the Lord give you a fresh glimpse of his great work on the cross for you as you read about his sacrifice in his Word! Does your anxiety about the future rob you of sleep and cause the lines of worry to grow upon your face? Cast then, your fears on your Lord who cares for you and ask him to open your eyes so that you might glimpse the chariots of fire that surround all your enemies (2 Ki. 6).
Christians, words cannot express how grateful we are that Jesus did not offer us the temporal comforts of removing sickness, oppression or even suffering from our lives while leaving us to die under the soul-crushing weight of our sins. He tore the veil and then gave us his Word so that we might see his glory. No one can be more precious to our souls than the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. No one else is more lovely. No one else is more desirable. And nothing else can bring such peace to our hearts as a glimpse of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the God who opened your eyes to see his Christ, give you a glimpse of Jesus once again, today.