Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32)
Thirty years before the Lord Jesus ever told those conniving Pharisees that He was "the light of the world", a pious, elderly gentleman had already said it.
This patient fellow had been waiting for the Messiah to enter the temple. We don't know how long he waited, but the impression is that it had been for years. Whatever the case, his understanding seems nothing short of astounding, as he shows no surprise at the "salvation of God" being an eight day old infant!
Then again, maybe it shouldn't shock us too much. For in three consecutive sentences the passage affirms an unusually close relationship between the Holy Spirit and Simeon. He had received a direct promise and it was just a matter of time.
Imagine the scene.
Mary, a brand new mother, let a total stranger take her week old baby in his arms! Really? How could she do that? That isn't the way first time mothers usually act! Did some special look on the man's face tell her this was no ordinary event? Was there a glow in his eyes that spoke of wonder and mystery and glory? For some reason both she and Joseph were comfortable with it, and they watched him adore the little One.
And then he began to talk.
First he spoke of God's faithfulness to the promise, but soon Simeon focused on the baby Himself.
He was the Salvation of all people and the Light of revelation to the Gentiles.
What? A light? To the Gentiles? What in the world could that mean and how did he know about it?! Since when was the Anointed One of David's house going to be a blessing to the pagan world? Why would anyone want to bless the cruel, heathen Romans?
Why, that was something the disciples wouldn't grasp even after three years of intense training with the Master!
But Simeon did understand. The same Holy Spirit that was upon him and leading him, revealed to him the cosmic scope of the Life now cradled in his arms. That very Spirit would later fill the believers and thrust them out into the vast Gentile sea, to begin a Gospel advance that is still going on to this day.
This was the moment he had been longing for. Finally, the Light to the Gentiles and the Glory of Israel was right before his eyes!
He could die in peace.
Perhaps the most important responsibility we have at Christmastime is not so much to enjoy the luxuries our culture affords us, as it is to shine with the true message of the season. After all, we know nothing of Simeon's home, financial situation, or surroundings. The most important thing he ever did was what we've just read. Could it be that our life's significance will also be reduced to only that which was directly related to the One from Bethlehem?
Dear Father, this man's mission is also mine, to let the world know of Your Light, to shine with the message of Your Son. Help me, Lord, be this kind of instrument for those in darkness around me today. Amen.
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