The ancient scholars developed elaborate theories about what the Messiah would look like. They combed the scriptures for clues. They debated, and divided, and argued with each other about how and when the Messiah would come.
Then Jesus came.
And they all had it wrong.
They missed it. Total whiff. Every single one of them. All that theology, all that study…yet not a single one recognized the true messiah when He was actually there.
Except for one guy.
“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.’
“And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:25-35)
All of the scholars, theologians, and philosophers missed it, but not Simeon.
What do we know about Simeon? Not much, really. There’s no indication that he was a man of any real social status. All we know is that he was righteous, devout, and full of the Holy Spirit.
And we know he was the one who knew.
Everyone else in the story of Jesus’s birth received a special message from God regarding the specific child—Mary, Joseph, the shepherds—but Simeon just knew. He didn’t need a visitation from an angel to know which child was the Christ.
The only man in the entire gospel account who got it right was the one who was full of the Holy Spirit and worshipping God at the temple.
Can I suggest that Simeon knew Jesus because Simeon knew God? Simeon knew the presence of the Spirit, so how could he miss Jesus?
At Christmas, we don’t just celebrate the first coming, but we also look forward to the second coming of Jesus.
I’ve heard a lot of talk about the second coming recently. Turbulence in Israel always makes us wonder.
Much study is given to the end times. Great divides exist in the Church due to disparate ideas on the rapture, the millennial reign, and the nature of the second coming of Christ. There’s value in that study, and I’m sure that in the end, some of us will be more correct in our predictions than others.
But can I suggest to you that the ones who won’t miss it are the ones who know the Spirit now?
The Bible seems relatively clear to me that there will be false prophets, false signs and wonders, and false messiahs in the coming days. (Matthew 24)
Like Simeon, the ones who abide in God and truly worship Him will be the ones who recognize the genuine artifact from the imposter.
Not from a careful assembling of the evidence, but from a knowledge of His presence.
I try not to neglect it, but I’m not one that spends too much time with eschatology (the study of the end times). It doesn’t change anything for me in my day-to-day walk with God. I’m going to keep showing up, doing the work, and trying to reach the lost until the world ends, the job is done, or God tells me to do something different. In my opinion, any genuine study of the end times should only reinforce the importance of the Great Commission, and the urgency with which we do the Kingdom work assigned to us.
The ones who will recognize Jesus, and the ones who recognize the anti-Christ, won’t be the ones who have done the most diligent study or arrived at the most accurate conclusions. If that’s all they have, they will surely be deceived.
The ones who recognize Jesus will be the ones who have spent time in His presence.
The ones who recognize the counterfeit, the anti-Christ, will be the ones who have spent time with the genuine artifact.
Simeon isn’t identified as the best scholar or the most accurate theologian of his time. He’s identified only as a man who was full of the Holy Spirit—a man who knew the genuine presence of God.
And if that’s true, how could Simeon miss?
Study the end times. Have vigorous, loving debates with your brothers and sisters. Search for the signs of the times and if you see something important, let me know.
But don’t forget to be Simeon first. You will recognize God in that day because you know God in this day.
Your heart will respond to His presence then because you spend time in His presence now.