A Christmas Reflection

Stephanie Klahsen   -  

What is your favourite Christmas carol? I have always been a big fan of Christmas music, whether traditional carols or pop music on the radio (much to my husband’s chagrin). It all makes me smile. In the last few years, I have been more and more drawn to some of the older classics and have heard them with new ears. I have relished the deep and beautiful theological truths that some of these songs proclaim. One of these songs is Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. This carol was written by Charles Wesley in 1774 and is full of promise. The promise of a King to come, a fulfilled promised King and the promise of His return. The first and last stanzas of the song say this:

Come thou long expected Jesus

Born to set thy people free

From our fears and sins release us

Let us find our rest in thee

Israel’s strength and consolation

Hope of all the earth Thou art

Dear desire of every nation

Joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver

Born a child and yet a king

Born to reign in us forever

Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring

by thine own eternal spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone

By Thine all sufficient merit

Raise us to thy glorious throne

As I was reflecting on these lyrics, I thought of a man in the Bible who knew the rich truths that this song proclaimed long before it was ever written. He knew that a Messiah would be born, who would deliver the people, would be a King, and would reign forever. This man was Simeon, and we read about him in Luke chapter 2:22-35:

“And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 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. 26 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. 27 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, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,


“Lord, now you are letting your servant[a] 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.”

33 And his father and his mother marvelled at what was said about him. 34 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 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.””

Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to present him to the Lord, as was the custom in those days. There, they met a man named Simeon. Simeon is described as a righteous and devout man, filled with the Holy Spirit. The passage tells us he was waiting for the consolation of Israel. Translated means to console or alleviate grief or to take away a sense of loss or trouble. (Www.gotquestions.com)  So this Messiah, this consolation of Israel, was to come and remove the sorrow from the nations.

The passage tells us that Simeon had a revelation from the Holy Spirit that he would not die until his eyes had seen this promised one. We don’t know how long he waited to see this promise fulfilled. I can only imagine how many babies he saw in that temple before his eyes ever saw Jesus, the promised Messiah.

One thing that stands out from this passage is that Simeon was a man of hope, believing that God is a promise-keeping God. He had been taught from birth the promise that had been passed down since the garden of Eden, of a Saviour, a rescuer, a consolation. He was given this hope from the Holy Spirit that he, himself, would get to see this king. So he went every day to the temple in eager anticipation that today would be the day that he would meet this King, the promised one. When he finally saw him, the Word tells us that he ‘took the baby in his arms and blessed God, saying:

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.”

Simeon had hope. He knew that this was the one that had been prophesied about. As the song says, this was the baby king, born to set his people free, born to deliver a people, born to reign forever. He was born to release fears and sins. He was the strength and consolation of Israel. Simeon understood this all to be true, and he stood in awe and wonder.

I wonder, in my own life, do I hold on to this promise kept as much as Simeon did? Do I see and treasure how Christ was prophesied about in the Old Testament and was the fulfillment of that promise in the New Testament, and has promised to come again and gather His people and raise them to His glorious throne? Do I, do we stand in eager anticipation as Simeon did? Do we, as Christ’s elect, realize who he is as Simeon did when he first laid eyes on him? I know I fail so often. That is why I am thankful for music with lyrics that can remind me of the hope that Simeon held so dear. My prayer for me, and you this Christmas season, is that, as the song says, Jesus would be the joy of our longing hearts. That we would affirm his all sufficient merit and wait in eager anticipation to be raised to His glorious throne just as God’s word has promised. I pray that every time we think of Jesus, our hearts will be as glad and joyous as Simeon’s when he first laid eyes on Him.