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~ The Prayer of Simeon ~
You probably read or heard of the book, “The Prayer of Jabez.” (You can find my review of it in the Subject Index of the Weekly Reflections under “On Prayer.”) You may also have heard of the little book, a retort to the one just mentioned, “The Prayer of Jesus.” At this most appropriate time for it, let’s consider “The Prayer of Simeon,” There’s no risk of this Reflection starting another “Prayer of” or a “What would Jesus do?” fad. Simeon’s prayer, however, merits our fervent adoption. It is the essence of the Gospel.
“On the eighth day [of Christmas, of Jesus’ earthly life], when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived...Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel’” (Luke 2:21, 25-32, NIV).
The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon he would not die until he sees (“eido” in the original Greek text meaning to literally or figuratively see with knowing) Christ (“Christos”, the Messiah, the Anointed of the Lord, “kurios”, Supreme Authority).
A quick reading may have one thinking Simeon was telling God to let him die now that he saw the living body of Christ. But, immediately upon “seeing with knowing” the Christ, Simeon cradles Him in his arms. He actually tells God to dismiss or let him go (“apoluo”, free fully in pardon), God’s servant (“doulos”, a slave or bonded-servant as in voluntary servitude). His eyes (“ophthalmos”, vision) beheld God’s salvation (“soterion”, defender or defense) which He prepared in the sight or face (“prosopon”, countenance and presence) of all nations and for glory to Israel (“Jisrael”, the adopted name of Jacob, including his literal and spiritual descendants).
John the Baptizer, the herald of Christ, Christ Himself, all His apostles and teachers, in written and spoken words, proclaimed the absolute necessity for our spiritual redemption and freedom from the utter destructiveness of sin and disengagement from God to be the “seeing with knowing” of the Christ, the Anointed One, Messiah. ...Before leaving this earth in physical death.
Is this not our evangelical prayer and longing for our loved ones and all the world? We who have witnessed the salvation of the Lord in our lives can pray with Simeon, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now fully free me, your bonded servant, in peace. For the vision of the eyes of my spirit beholds my salvation, my Defender [Hebrews 4:14-16], whom you have prepared in the face and presence of all people, a Light for revelation to all nations and for the glory of your spiritual Israel [Romans 9:8].”
We can redirect Simeon’s prayer from one of thanks to one of intercession: “Sovereign Lord, grant that before my loved ones, friends, all people, die and leave this earthly life, you will fully free them in peace by revealing to them the vision of your salvation, the Light you prepared in their presence for their glory.”
This presentation of Christ to the world is the Epiphany. It happened and continues to happen whether or not people notice it. The magnificent full moon shining through the night’s darkness is there whether or not it is noticed. The light of the moon testifies to the ever presence of the sun, visible or not. The elements of the moon do not reflect sunlight in the way a mirror does. Rather, they absorb the light of the sun and, thus energized, transmit that energy into its own unique moonlight that pierces the darkness.
Our prayer, and work, is for all to “see with knowing,” to experience,
the Epiphany of our Lord that God prepared in the face of all nations.
This Epiphany is redemptive, allowing us to join Simeon in praying, “Sovereign
God, as you have promised, you now fully free me in peace! Thank you!”
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
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Spiritual Resource Services © January 2, 2004
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