I Can Finally Die

Updated: Jan 3



HISTORICAL FICTION SHORT STORY, INSPIRED BY LUKE 2:1-40



Walking through the crowd of desperate vendors, Simeon—a man with grey hair and tired eyes, stopped at the booth of a shepherd selling his wares. The dirty herdsman held a sheet of wool with one hand while pointing to fresh cuts of lamb with the other.


Simeon motioned to a shank. “How much?”


The man laid the wool over the top of a wooden chair and faced Simeon. “Two sestertii.”


“I’ll take four.”


The man smiled and packaged the meat.


With a flick of his wrist, Simeon threw two denarii on the shepherd’s table. “So, what’s your name, friend?”


The man froze, eyes wide. “Is something wrong, sir?”


Simeon gave a half-smirk. “No,” he said, chuckling and scratching the back of his neck. “Nothing like that. I’d just like to know the name of the men with whom I do business. More personal that way.”


Tying twine around the meat into a bow, he raised his head. “The name’s Aran.”


“Aran? That means wild goat, right?”


Aran’s raised head quickly fell. “Yeah. My mom likened my birth to restraining a rabid kid.”


“You don’t seem rabid to me.”


“Thank you, sir,” Aran said, bowing and passing the meat to Simeon. “You are very kind. May the blessings of Yeshua follow you.”


With dropped mouth, Simeon stepped forward and grabbed the shanks. “Yeshua? What do you know of the Messiah? Any news from the wilderness?”


Resting his hands on the table, a stupid grin formed on Aran’s face. A quick burst of laughter escaped his nostrils. “News? Oh, what news do I have for you!” Slapping a lamb leg, he leapt in the air and spun around. “Only forty days ago, an angel visited my brothers and me as we were tending to our father’s sheep. I admit I was afraid at first, but the light emanating from its hands was so warm that it felt comforting. It told us about the Messiah, born in Bethlehem, lying in a feeding trough.”


Aran reached out and put his hand on Simeon’s shoulder. “Then, a whole multitude of angels appeared, a giant sea of them covering every inch of the night. They cried, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ I’ll never forget those words.” Aran dropped his hands to his side. “We immediately traveled to the town of David.” Lifting his hands in front of him and staring at his palms, he said, “There was the Messiah, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and Mary rubbing his stomach, Joseph resting on his staff and gazing with adoration. Falling on our knees, we wept as lowly sinners shepherding our father’s flocks. Yeshua is the righteous son of God come to shepherd men.”


Simeon gripped the shanks tightly and held them close to his chest, eyes glassy. “I’ve waited many years for the consolation of Israel, and he’s finally here. Messiah is here.” He could barely breathe. “I’ve heard rumors, but I couldn’t be sure.” Like a jolt of electricity shooting through him, he shook, body trembling. Simeon closed his eyes to gain composure. Breathing in a large gulp of air and exhaling, he asked, “Where is the Messiah now?”


“Oh, you don’t know? Mary and Joseph have brought him to the temple for the consecration ceremony. He’s there now!”


Simeon dropped the shanks on the ground and ran as hard as he could in the direction of the temple.


Aran shuffled in front of his booth and picked up the meat by the twine, yelling, “You forgot your lamb!”


Simeon stopped for a moment and turned, eyes sparkling. “Keep it! The lamb of God is here! The solace of Israel is has come!”


***

Once Mary and Joseph dedicated Yeshua to God and offered their two young pigeons in accordance with the law, Simeon found the family in the Court of the Women.


Rushing up to Mary, he smiled, panting like a dog. “May I hold my Messiah?” he asked, tears flowing down his cheeks.


Joseph lunged in front of Mary to protect her from the stranger, but Mary gently placed her hand on Joseph’s cheek. “It’s okay, my love. We knew this day would come. God did not give Yeshua to us, but to the world.” She positioned her hand under Yeshua’s head and placed him in Simeon’s arms.


Simeon was well-versed in the Scriptures, clinging to the word of God like a glutton clings to his bread, but holding the living word in his hands, it was different. No longer did he need to hold ancient parchments of secondhand knowledge. He held the entire revelation of God in eight pounds of human flesh. It overwhelmed him. No glutton could receive such satisfaction.

Bringing Yeshua close to his heart, it skipped a beat. Never had he known such love. Simeon stared into the clear, brown eyes of his savior, not only knowing God, but himself. He saw fire in those eyes, and it burned away every selfish ambition he ever had. It was only him and God in a sublime moment of divine intervention.


He closed his eyes and hugged Yeshua one last time before passing him back to Mary. Wiping his eyes with his robe, he said, “I could die today, knowing my life is now complete.” Sniffling, he reiterated, “I can finally die.”


Taking a deep breath, he extended his arm and rested his hand on Yeshua’s head. “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people.” He dropped his hand and looked at Mary and Joseph, eyes beaming. “He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of our people Israel!”


Simeon raised both hands and placed one on each of the parent’s heads, Pronouncing a blessing on them and their growing family. They grinned, tears forming in the corners of their eyes.


Taking a step forward, Simeon stared into Mary’s soul, eyebrows furrowed and forehead wrinkling. “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” Leaning close to her ear, he whispered, “And a sword will pierce your very soul.”


Stepping back, Simeon knelt on the floor, worshipping God with shouts of praise when a sprightly old woman came sneaking behind him. “Is this him, Simeon?”


Standing to his feet, Simeon said, “Why don’t you see for yourself, Anna?”


Anna, an eighty-four-year-old prophetess and widow, who spent her days fasting and praying in the Court of the Women, closed her left eye and peered at the baby with her right. Yeshua yawned and smacked his lips, enough for her to jump in the air and shout, “Hallelujah! It is him!”


“All he did was yawn,” Simeon said, sticking his finger in the baby’s face. “How can you tell from a yawn? Did you look into his eyes? Did you see the fire?”


“No need, Simeon. I don’t need to see to believe. She dusted some crumbs off of her shoulder. “Some people have strong enough faith to believe without seeing.”


“Are you saying I have no faith?” asked Simeon, crossing his arms.


She waved at him facetiously. “Calm down, old man. Every day, you come into the temple, and every day you have that same crotchety expression on your face. You’d think the Messiah could at least get you to smile a little more.”


Simeon sighed and let out a slight chuckle. “You’re right, Anna. Not even you can sour my good mood.”


“Well, it’s about time you learn to liven up a little. Now, let’s tell the world about Yeshua. This ain’t some secret to hide under a bushel, ya know.”


Anna stopped at every bystander, dancing and shouting about the coming of the Messiah. Some shewed her away, but the ones who had been waiting expectantly—like her—for Yeshua, danced right along with her, singing celebration of Israel’s deliverance.


Simeon glanced over at Mary and Joseph, hitting Joseph’s elbow. “You should probably leave before the temple courts break out into chaos. Anna’s likely to start a ruckus none of us can contain.”


“Thank you,” said Mary, bowing. “I’ll ponder your words in my heart.”


Simeon bowed lower. “No, thank you. The Holy Spirit led me here, and now I have peace. That’s all I ever wanted, peace—for me and my people.”

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