As we turn the corner to a new decade, it’s a great time to affirm our commitment to things that really matter. At Cornerstone, we don’t want to be a people who merely ‘talk the talk’, we want to be people who are born of, filled with, and walk in the Spirit.
Some four million Jews spread throughout the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus’ birth. Sects and schools arosing within Judaism memorised huge portions of Scripture. Until that time, no generation had a greater expectation that the Messiah’s visitation was at hand. Prophecies were diligently studied, theories and timelines were drawn up, groups formed isolated communities to wait for the Christ.
And yet the first person to recognise Jesus did not study under any famous rabbi nor join any elite school. Simeon was an old man, a commoner. What qualified him for such a high honour? He was a man of the Spirit.
“There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon … 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. So he came by the Spirit into the temple…” Luke 2:25-26
Nothing qualifies us more for service in God’s Kingdom than being filled with the Spirit. As amazing as the Word of God is, its nuggets of truth have to be discerned by the Spirit. Sitting at the feet of great teachers is also a great privilege. But 1 John 2:26-27 reminds us that there’s an anointing that comes by the Holy Spirit that ‘teaches you concerning all things.’
Knowing something is good or right is super, but the boldness to do it at any cost is the mark of a man or woman whose heart is set ablaze by the Spirit of the living God.
Simeon was a God-seeker. You get the feeling that if he was alive today, he’d not borrow his next bright idea from social media. The conventional and the popular are not things that tugged at his heart. He went straight to the Throne Room; there, he heard what the Spirit was saying.
The second-hand news people of Jesus’ day were looking for a captain, a man of great stature, genius, and might. They expected a man to appear who could stand up to Caesar as Moses had done to Pharaoh and his army, thus delivering the Jews from their oppressors. Only a man who walked in the Spirit could have recognised the Messiah in a baby, held in the arms of his poor, teenage mother.
Simeon was a man upon whom the Holy Spirit rested. What a way to be identified! Princes were known by their raiment, holy men by their beards and turbans, but Simeon was remembered as a man who had the Spirit of God all over him.
Mary and Joseph felt so comfortable with this grandpa that, as he approached them, they passed Jesus right into his loving arms. Simeon proceeded to publicly declare in the midst of the crowded temple that this baby was the very One that Jews everywhere had been yearning for.
In fact, more than that, Simeon announced He was going to bring light and salvation to people from all nations – every tribe and tongue. He then proceeded to prophesy over Jesus and the blessed couple, every word of which came to pass.
Simeon’s testimony has inspired me. As we enter the new year, I don’t want to live as I have in years past. I don’t want be moved by trends. I don’t want to follow the crowds. I don’t want to base my decisions on what has the appearance of being good or wise. I want to be free from the need to impress.
What if, this year, we make a conscious choice to set all these things aside and really – sincerely and diligently – seek the face of God? What if we get so filled with the Spirit that, if someone happens to write an article or post about us, the first thing that comes to mind is that the Spirit of the living God is all over us?
What if we could be so led by the Spirit that we’re able to recognise the exact times and places that the Spirit of God is working? What if it means praise and even prophecy flowing out of our lips as naturally as waters from a fountain?
Simeon was not just the first man to see the Messiah. he’s typical of those who have set their hopes squarely on the return of the Consolation and Refresher of His people, who will be among the first to see Jesus when He comes again.
As God raised up a Simeon when He sent His Son 2,000 years ago, so too is He raising up a host in our day who, like Simeon, will truly be men and women of the Spirit.