Simeon, My Favorite Flat Character in the Bible

A flat character in theater is a character that lacks complexity or depth. We’re not given much detail on them. You might have heard the term “supporting actor.” Some supporting actors have a huge impact on a story, while others may have very little. We hear of the man Simeon only once in the word, and it’s quite brief. His story, however, packs an incredible punch. We see Simeon only in Luke 2:25-35 as Luke recounts Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem (the house of bread). Here’s blessed Simeon’s story in its totality:

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking 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 carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,

“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
A Light of revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

That’s it of Simeon. But how powerful is this? The Spirit himself was upon this man. For me, Simeon represents the godly Israelite. Because of the reputation of the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day we sometimes wrongly assume that Judaism “naturally” led to hard-heartedness and dead religion. It didn’t. Of course there were hypocrites, but there were also the godly, the humble, and the loving. The heartcry of Psalm 119 is Judaism in God’s true son or daughter. Please consider that. The Law leads the elect to Christ. It’s not Christ, and cannot do what he does, but it leads to knowing him. Knowing it makes the knowledge of him all the more possible. The Jews therefore had great advantage when he came. Romans 3:1-2.

Consider how close Simeon must’ve been to God to have known what he knew and to have said what he said! This is pure revelation. He knew the promises God had made. He’s “righteous and devout” we see. He sees Jesus and he gets it. He schools Jesus’ parents on it a bit. He also had a private revelation (privilege) from God that he’d see the Messiah before death, but the rest of what he expresses was not at all from private revelation. Simeon was a prophet. He was looking for God’s work like many others will be at Jesus’ Second Coming. Simeon’s faith in Jesus would in fact become a type of confession made by everyone who loved God when Jesus’ public ministry begins some thirty years later. In John 8:42a, Jesus told a group of people “If God were your Father, you would love Me.” Simeon loved God and so he loved Jesus when he came, even an eight-day old boy. Simeon to me represents what Judaism produced in the heart of all those made wise under or by the Law before Jesus came. He was that kind of true Israelite Jesus would later call Nathanael in John 1:47. He was surely a godly man. He represents the heart of all those who trusted in Yahweh, the God who’d delivered Israel from Egypt and preserved them for a millennia and a half by his day. Jesus was Simeon’s “salvation.” His “hope.” He calls him the “light of the Gentiles” and the very “glory of Israel.”

And he is all these things, reader. Is he these things in your life? With all he knew, Simeon doesn’t know a tenth as much as you and I can from the pages of Scripture that would come long after his death. The question is, is the same God on you who was on Simeon? May you have life. Don’t waste it. Be blessed. May the Spirit be upon you. May you see the light of all the nations in your own home. May you hope in him who is the very glory of Israel, Jesus the King of all kings!
God bless!!!

(If this has been a blessing to you, would you please share it with someone else? Come by anytime for new stuff).

Joseph Pittano

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