«At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel» (Luke 2:25).
I must admit that although I’ve read the story of Jesus’s dedication many times, I ‘ve always had the wrong impression of Simeon. I suppose that since he was at the temple when Jesus’s parents took him there and he blessed Him, I assumed he was a priest or had a similar job.
But no. As far as we know, he was not a priest. He was a righteous and devout layman who was in close communion with God and received messages directly from the Holy Spirit. We may be surprised by his apparent foresight, but it’s not something we can’t aspire to as children of God. He studied the prophecies and longed to see the promise fulfilled. He truly awaited the Messiah. He spoke to Mary about the future that awaited Jesus and the pain His sacrifice would imply.
Joseph and Mary were marveled by him. He knew who their baby was and he was one of the few who till then had shown they believed in Him and were aware of who was in front of him.
In contrast, the temple priest barely noticed them. He saw them as a poor couple who had only been able to pay for the minimum offering required. To him, they were one more couple, and Jesus was one more baby (The Desire of Ages, ch. 5, p. 52).
“So it is still. Events upon which the attention of all heaven is centered are undiscerned, their very occurrence is unnoticed, by religious leaders, and worshipers in the house of God” (ibid, p. 56).
Through this story we’re not going to conclude that leaders are bad and laymen are good. It’s not about highlighting the differences to draw us apart, but rather about being responsible wherever we are and assessing how this story may apply to our lives today.
And in that regard, we have a great responsibility both as leaders and laymen. Every church member, regardless of their church office, has the privilege to seek God every day and enjoy as close communion with Him as Simeon did.
Jesus came to remind us that it’s not about holding church offices, but about relationship. He still couldn’t talk, but His mere presence that day was a glorious event to those who were ready, and it went by unnoticed by those who weren’t.