Bible Reading for
October 21, 2016
Ever notice the “stripes” and holes in a cracker?
Today we read of Simeon. Simeon was promised that he would see the Messiah before he died. Now I’m not sure why, but I always thought that Simeon was an old man on the verge of death. After reading commentary by Matthew Henry, however, I went back and re-read the passage in question.
Luke 2:25-26 ESV
“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.”
Perhaps the following statement by Simeon is where I got the idea that he was old and on the verge of death.
Luke 2:29 ESV
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, …”
The implication here is that Simeon was ready to die since he had seen the Anointed One. The reason I bring up this issue is that there is some speculation as to who this Simeon was. Matthew Henry speculates that he was the father of Gamaliel who was a Pharisee who trained Saul who would later become the Apostle Paul. In fact, I have been told by a Messianic pastor that much of the pass-over tradition, as practiced by modern Jews today, was developed by Gamaliel. Here is the pertinent passage from Matthew Henry’s Commentary:
“1. The account that is given us concerning this Simeon, or Simon. He dwelt now in Jerusalem, and was eminent for his piety and communion with God. Some learned men, who have been conversant with the Jewish writers, find that there was at this time one Simeon, a man of great note in Jerusalem, the son of Hillel, and the first to whom they gave the title of Rabban, the highest title that they gave to their doctors, and which was never given but to seven of them. He succeeded his father Hillel, as president of the college which his father founded, and of the great Sanhedrim. The Jews say that he was endued with a prophetical spirit, and that he was turned out of his place because he witnessed against the common opinion of the Jews concerning the temporal kingdom of the Messiah; and they likewise observe that there is no mention of him in their Mishna, or book of traditions, which intimates that he was no patron of those fooleries. One thing objected against this conjecture is that at this time his father Hillel was living, and that he himself lived many years after this, as appears by the Jewish histories; but, as to that, he is not here said to be old; and his saying, Now let thy servant depart intimates that he was willing to die now, but does not conclude that therefore he did die quickly. St. Paul lived many years after he had spoken of his death as near, Acts 20:25. Another thing objected is that the son of Simeon was Gamaliel, a Pharisee, and an enemy to Christianity; but, as to that, it is no new thing for a faithful lover of Christ to have a son a bigoted Pharisee.”
Henry, M. (1996). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume. Peabody: Hendrickson.
The Nelson Study Bible has this to say about Gamaliel:
“Gamaliel was a highly respected Pharisee, the grandson of the famous Rabbi Hillel, a brilliant spiritual leader. Gamaliel was the teacher of Saul, who would later become the apostle Paul (22:3). Gamaliel was given the honored title of “Rabban,” meaning “Our Teacher.” It is said in the Mishna—the commentary on the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament—that when Gamaliel died, “the glory of the Torah ceased, and purity and sanctity died out also.” This is an impressive eulogy for a Jewish teacher.”
Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
Notice that Simeon was not mentioned in the Mishan but his son, Gamaliel, was. I have attended a Passover Meal several times; each time it was led by a Messianic Pastor. This pastor is the one who told me that Gamaliel was extremely influential in the development of the modern celebratory practices of the Passover meal. What I find interesting in the modern Passover meal is how obviously it points to Jesus as the Christ. Of course, the Passover was an annual celebration of the salvation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. If you’ll remember, the final plague placed on Pharaoh and all of Egypt was the death of the first born.
The only way to be saved from death by this plague was for one to put the blood of a blemish free lamb on the door posts of one’s home. The blood of the lamb meant salvation. No blood meant death. The blood of the lamb saved the Jews and set them free. Later prophecy pointed to the “suffering servant” who would come as the lamb to save all of humanity and set them free. The bread used in the Passover meal is leaven, or yeast, free. It is called Matza.
Isaiah 53:5 paints a picture that we can see on the surface of Matza.
Isaiah 53:5 ESV
“But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
If you will look above at the picture of Matza above, you will see those stripes. The Romans beat Jesus, most likely with what they called a Flagellum. A flagellum consisted of a handle with three lashes or thongs of leather or cord, sometimes with pieces of metal fastened to them. These pieces of metal would gouge chunks of flesh from the victim. At the end of the ordeal you would be bruised, you would have holes in you, the marks on your flesh from the Flagellum would leave vivid, red “stripes”. Matza is a picture of the punctured, bruised, and striped body of Jesus. Do you see the bruises on the Matza? Do you see the holes and the stripes?
I don’t recollect all the symbolism in the Passover Meal that pointed to Jesus and his death on the cross but I remember walking away thinking “How did they miss Him?” Gamaliel knew the scriptures inside and out. He knew a great deal about whom the Messiah would be and what He would experience, and yet when he came face to face with Jesus, unmistakably the Messiah, he didn’t recognize Him.
I am equally astounded when people today are presented with the Gospel and they deny Him. He stares them right in the face and they don’t recognize Him. There are a lot of lost people out there. There are also a lot of people who claim to be Christians who don’t know Him either. They know who He is supposed to be but they don’t know Him personally. He stares at them from the pages of the Bible. He tugs at their hearts urging them to listen and respond. They are blind. They are deaf. They are dead. How heart breaking.
I’m getting a bit negative, here aren’t I? I am doing so for a reason. Without Jesus Christ, there is no hope. Without Jesus Christ life has no meaning. Without Jesus Christ, a person is dead; it is just a matter of time until they realize it, lie down, and turn to dust. The good news is “but God”. God sent His son to die on a cross so those who would cover the entry way of their hearts with His blood would be saved from slavery to sin and death. I find the story of Gamaliel disheartening until I think of his father and his student. His father knew Christ and his student came to know Him too. God used others to present Christ to these men but it was God who guided them both to Him.
You and I can’t save anyone. We can only present Christ to others. God will lead them to Jesus and change their hearts. There will be many who reject Him but the few who accept Him will be well worth any discomfort or change of lifestyle we may have to endure in order to present Him to a Lost and dying world. By His stripes they are healed! Do you love them enough to tell them?
Have a Christ sharing day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: Mark 8, Luke 9:18-27, Matthew 16
Old Testament Only: Isaiah 44–46
New Testament Only: Colossians 2:16–3:17