Don’t know about you, but I have a hard time relating to most of the larger-than-life characters in the Bible like Noah, Moses, Elijah, Abraham, David, and Paul. After all, God spoke to them—right out loud—on multiple occasions, and the Bible chronicles significant portions of their lives.
That’s why I so appreciate those historical characters who have only the briefest mention in the Bible but still have a significant impact. Let’s take a quick look at three of them.
There’s Simeon, the aging prophet who met Mary and Joseph at the temple in Jerusalem when they presented Jesus soon after the fortieth day following His birth. The Holy Spirit had promised Simeon he would not die before seeing the Messiah. Taking the infant in his arms, the old man prophesied that Jesus would be a light to the world, causing the fall and rise of many people. His memorable story takes up a mere eleven verses in Luke 2.
Recognize the name Jochebed? Her name is mentioned only twice—both times in long genealogies. But we could make the case that her actions launched biblical history. The mother of three heroes of the faith—Moses, Aaron, and Miriam—Jochebed had the foresight and courage to send three-month-old Moses floating down the Nile in a papyrus basket to rescue him from Egyptian death squads (see Exodus 1–2). We may not remember her name, but she should be revered as a beacon of hope for anyone living under oppression and for mothers who love their children enough to let them go.
A third unforgettable biblical character mentioned ever so briefly is the repentant thief on the cross. On that history-changing Friday at Golgotha, one criminal hurled abusive taunts at Jesus, but the other recognized the divinity of Christ and confessed his own brokenness. We don’t know his name, but that thief’s insight at the triple crucifixion brings hope to those who come to Christ late in life, even in their final moments. In addition, Jesus’s promise to the thief, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43), suggests there is no lag time between our time on earth and our entrance into heaven. That’s good to know.
It’s also good to know that modest lives like yours and mine can still make an impact. Can you identify with a guy who was moved to tears when he held a new baby, a mother who saw a great leader when she looked at her infant son, or a broken man whose eyes were opened upon meeting Jesus for the first time?
Rest assured, God had a plan for Simeon, Jochabed, and the thief on the cross. And He has one for you.