Creator God, illumine my life by the inviting, guiding, judging, redeeming light of your holy Word, I pray.
Read LUKE 2:22-35
Jesus Presented in the Temple
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”[a]), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”[b]
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[c] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn, / they bore thee to Calvary.’1
Waiting is rarely easy; the longer the wait, the harder it is to keep the sense of anticipation. We are not given Simeon’s age, but it seems he was approaching death. He had waited a lifetime; Israel had waited centuries. For Israel as a nation and for individuals like Simeon, keeping the hope alive would not have been easy. Some had given up, but not Simeon. His expectation and hope are born out of his faith (v 25) and a direct revelation from the Spirit (v 26). Now, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he realizes that the long-awaited time has come and he praises God in language with many Old Testament echoes, especially from Isaiah.2 Thus far the emphasis has been on the Savior of Israel – now, under the influence of the Isaiah passages, a new note emerges. Jesus is not just for Israel but for the world. Luke is building a picture of a Messiah/Savior who transcends social and national boundaries.
This is not without cost. There is in Simeon’s words more than a hint of the pain that will come. This is no surprise to us who look back to the cross, but for Jesus’ contemporaries this proved a difficult idea to grasp despite the teaching of Jesus himself.3 By the time Paul was writing his epistle to the Romans, less than 20 years after Jesus’ death, the link was firmly established4 and it becomes a theme in his later writings. For a people called to take up a cross this has abiding significance. There is no glory without suffering, no crown without a cross. It has implications for the mission of the church. Any proclamation of the gospel which pretends otherwise is a sham. A church which seeks power and avoids suffering has not understood Jesus.
Pray that your church will have a healthy realism as it shares the good news of Jesus and that it will not be seduced by the world’s ideas of power.
Gracious Father, you are my Rock. When all around me is crumbling, I stand confidently and trustfully on you.
1 Emily Elliott, 1836–97, ‘Thou didst leave thy throne’ 2 E.g. Isa 9:2; 42:1–7; 49:6; 60:1–3 3 Luke 9:45; 18:32–34; 24:25–27 4 Rom 8:17
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.