Yesterday morning I preached on Simeon's Christmas from Luke 2, and the gift of Christ to himself and to the world. It's an astonishing episode, isn't it? I was at a party on Saturday afternoon, and saw a newborn who was so gorgeous that I wanted to sweep her up for a cuddle - but as I didn't know the mother I kept myself in check! Simeon's reaction to the infant Jesus, praising and prophesying, is utterly bizarre, unless it can be explained. It can be. 'It was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ' (v. 26). God was, as ever, faithful to His promise. Simeon did see him. He knew that this was the great Rescuer born for his own people Israel and born for the world. He cannot but praise, and the same Spirit who sustained his faith gave him a word of prophesy about the child.
This Christmas we remember that God is faithful. He does keep His promises. He doesn't play with us, or lose interest in us. In Christ we are saved and loved. God will accomplish all of His purposes for us. Of that we can be completely sure. Our calling it to believe and to follow with patience and perseverance.
I found these words from John Calvin very helpful:
"The example of Simeon teaches us to keep our feelings in check when nothing first turns out as we would wish, and when God leaves us to languish. It is as the Apostle says, faith cannot exist without patience (cf 1 Thess. 1.3, 2 Thess. 1.4, James 1.3) . God, it is true, does not have to promise us anything in order to make us happy. Yet He prefers to train us by keeping hidden, in a sense, the things He has promised, so that however hard we look we see nothing. So because the Lord tests our claim to honour Him by holding to His Word, He unites in an unbreakable bond patience and faith. Let us learn that lesson well."
Sermon on Luke 2.25-28