Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Promise of His Coming (32)

We return to Luke's account of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, on this, his eighth day, when 2:21 tells us that Jesus was circumcised and named, according to the Law. However, for today's devotional, I want to focus on the following verses, when 32 days later Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple for the purification of Mary and the dedication of Jesus.

If you could see any incident from Jesus' life, what would it be? Maybe one of the miracles, feeding the huge crowds, or turning the water into wine. Perhaps you would have loved to have been there as Jesus was crucified, seeing the very action that saved us. Or to have been there in the garden, peeking from behind a bush as the risen Jesus met Mary Magdalene.

In Luke 2 we're introduced to someone who had been waiting to see Jesus a long time. Simeon was righteous and devout, and waiting for the consolation of Israel. Israel needed comfort, having been occupied and defeated for many long years. Simeon knew through a promise of the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he saw the Lord's Christ. Perhaps day after day he looked for this coming king, waiting for the day when he would ride in triumph into Jerusalem having won the great victory.

Yet when he sees the Lord's Christ, it isn't as the triumphant warrior. It's this tiny, forty-day-old baby. Simeon takes him in his arms and blessed God. For him to have seen Jesus (even as a baby) is for him to have seen 'the Lord's salvation'. It is here and now that Simeon sings his song of departure, thankful that God is fulfilling his promises, even though he hasn't seen how they will be fully and finally completed:

Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.
(Luke 2: 29-32)

The prophet Simeon combines the themes of Israel's glory and light for the nations, as we have seen previously in Isaiah 49. Jesus is the Lord's Christ, the servant of the Lord, and the hope of the nations. God is fulfilling his promises - to Simeon, to Israel, and to the nations.

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