On the fortieth day of the incarnation Mary and Joseph, as a faithful Jewish couple, presented their firstborn Son at the temple and “bought” him back with a sacrifice of a two small birds. This is known as the “Presentation of Our Lord” and is celebrated in the church on February 2nd. It deserves more than one day. So we continue our contemplation on this sacred event we started a couple of days ago.
Simeon is an interesting character. We don’t know much about him. We do know that the Spirit told him that he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Christ, that is, the long promised Messiah. On that fortieth day of the incarnation, Simeon was summoned by the same Spirit to the temple. There he encountered the Holy Family and held the baby in his arms. In response he recited inspired poetry we still sing today, “Lord, let your servant depart in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
What we don’t know is how old Simeon was. We usually picture him as old and wise but he could have been in the prime of his life for all we know. What a testimony that would have been from a young man: “I am ready to go!” It could be that Simeon was declaring that he was ready to be dismissed in the world to tell the world about the newborn Savior, a mission he certainly carried out the rest of his days no matter how many there were. It does seem however that Simeon had his own mortality in mind here as well. He had gotten his promise fulfilled. What else did he need? He could die later that day. A Roman soldier could trample over him. A heart attack, an accident, a bolt of lightning, any number of tragedies could have befallen on poor Simeon but he would have still been at peace. He had seen his Savior.
Your Savior has saved you. He has spoken grace to you. He has baptized you. He has absolved you. What else do you need? It could end tomorrow. It really could. And it would be OK. You have seen your salvation. You have Christ, not in your arms as did Simeon, but in your ears and mouth. No wonder the Lutheran church put his song after Holy Communion. We just had Christ in Word and Meal. What more do we need?
For more content like this, check out the podcast, blog posts, and devotions at www.LetTheBirdFly.com.