The name Simeon comes from the Hebrew word for “to hear.” It was an appropriate name for someone who spent his days listening carefully to the Holy Spirit. Simeon is proof of God’s blessing for those who have open ears and, more important, open hearts for what God is doing. Simeon spent his days waiting for the “consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). He was not alone, many in Israel had longed for the Messiah who would deliver them, ever since Jerusalem had been conquered nearly six hundred years before.
In his Gospel, Luke revealed that Simeon was a righteous man filled with the Holy Spirit. Others may have thought he was mad for being so certain that he would not die until he had laid eyes on the Messiah. But Simeon had been told as much by the Holy Spirit. As a result, Simeon remained watchful.
Forty days after Jesus was born, Simeon got his wish, he blessed the infant . Joseph and Mary came to the temple to present Jesus to God, as was custom with every firstborn male. Overcome with emotion, Simeon took the child and rejoiced that the little bundle in his arms would bring salvation—not just for his people but for the Gentiles as well. Clearly, Simeon knew the Old Testament prophecies well and understood that the scope of God’s redemptive plan knew no national or ethnic boundaries.
However, there was a darker side to Simeon’s prophecy. So well did Simeon understand the prophecies concerning the Messiah that he anticipated the suffering that Jesus would bring upon Himself and those who followed Him. Simeon saw in the eyes of the baby Jesus one who would turn empires upside down. Mary in particular would share in Jesus’ suffering.
Unsettling as his words may have been, Simeon was not troubled. He knew that all this was part of God’s plan. And having been blessed to see the great deliverer face-to-face, the elderly prophet was prepared to die in peace.