Many times, the “consolation prize” is regarded as something given to those who lose the competition…just to make them feel better. This faux feeling rests on the foundation of losing, and all the competitors know it – especially the recipients of such a “prize”. This article dismisses our cynical modern expression and seeks to redeem the value of consolation, which is something endemic to the search of all mankind. Consolation, in itself, is a great prize worth the efforts involved in waiting and watching, which seem not to be values pursued by our generation at large. Surely these following thoughts may not necessarily flow out of a pen of a gifted writer, but neither are they disconnected from each other…hopefully worthy of your consideration.
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just 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. So, he came by 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, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
These scriptures (Luke 2:25-32) speak of the culmination of an Advent season for this man, Simeon. There is no other account of this specific man in the Bible, but the orchestration of the exact timing of this encounter with the parents of Jesus was directed by the Holy Spirit as a testimony concluding Simeon’s own “advent season”. Surely, this devout man was recalling such Isaiah prophecies as:
You who bring good tidings,
Get up into the high mountain;
You who bring good tidings,
Lift up your voice with strength,
Lift it up, be not afraid;
Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand,
And His arm shall rule for Him;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.
He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.
Luke refers to whom Simeon was waiting as the “Consolation of Israel”. This was a reference to a common solemn oath among the Jews – So may I see the consolation – which was a reference to Isaiah 40:1 (“Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, Saith your God.”) Why did Luke choose the word “consolation” to obviously refer to the Christ? What caught my attention about this particular word is that the Greek word is paraklesis which comes from the same root word when Jesus promised His disciples (John 14:15-18) that His Father would send them the parakletos. This paraclete is translated as an advocate, intercessor, helper, consoler, comfort, guide, encouragement, exhortation, intreaty. Jesus makes it clear to the disciples that He is referring to the impartation of (Holy) Spirit of truth INTO them, not just WITH them. While Jesus dwelt with them, they knew this Spirit, but He was preparing them for His departure. In so doing, He promised that He, the Consolation of Israel, would console them in a permanent way via the impartation of His paraklete after He leaves. Pentecost was the first outpouring of this parakletos – exactly why Jesus came, to deliver the promise of His indwelling.
Simeon understood, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus was that permanent Consolation promised to Israel for hundreds of years. He was privileged to witness the fulfillment of what all the prophets before him spoke but did not see fulfilled in their lifetime. It was out of this gratitude Simeon took the babe in his arms and blessed the Lord. This was the completion of his search for the promised consolation – his “advent” had arrived.
Further exploration into the word “consolation” reveals that parakletos is derived from:
para “from close-beside” + kaleo “make a call”
In other words, the paraclete is a legal advocate who makes the right judgment call because he is close enough to the situation; hence, all the one-word translations listed above. So, Jesus was the paraclete (Consolation) in human form…the Father’s promise to Israel through all the Old Testament prophets. Once again, Isaiah (11:10) testifies:
And it shall come to pass in that day,
That the root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the people,
Unto him shall the nations seek;
And his resting place shall be glorious.
[Notice, dear reader, that this old prophecy was confirmed by Simeon, notated at the beginning of this article: “…A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles (nations), And the glory of Your people Israel (his resting place).”]
This reminds me of the Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk, looking for the consolation, weary of being a constant witness to Judah’s violence, strife, contentions, and perversions of God’s laws. He asked, “How long, O Lord, shall I cry, and Thou wilt not hear?” In retrospect, we see how his weariness with being constantly confronted with the societal iniquity of his generation lasted another 600 years before the “advent” witnessed by Simeon. As did Habakkuk who committed himself to being a watchman looking for this consolation, Simeon had been doing the same in his generation. We must do the same in our generation, awaiting the promise of His RETURN…watching faithfully through our own Advent season, even if it turns out to be another 600 years.