by Jessamyn Rains
When Jesus was forty days old, Joseph and Mary took Him to the temple to present Him to the Lord. To everyone present in the temple that day–priests, laypeople, onlookers–this must have been another run-of-the-mill baby presentation by another run-of-the-mill working class family. There was no crowd of people outside trying to get a glimpse of God’s son; there were no well wishers or protesters or paparazzi; there was no limo waiting to transport Him to His ritzy hotel. It was an ordinary event lost in the shuffle of other ordinary events.
However, there was an old man in the temple named Simeon who knew that this was no ordinary child, no ordinary mother and father, no ordinary baby presentation. Simeon knew that this tiny infant was God’s plan of salvation for the human race. While the priests and the people went on their way in darkness, ignorant of the profundity of the moment, Simeon took the Christ child in his arms and spoke these words:
“Now Lord, you are releasing your bondservant to depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all the peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (NASB).
Simeon had lived most of his life in that four-hundred year silence between the Old and New Testaments. It was a time of darkness: God’s people were living under the yoke of Roman rule, and the promises of liberation and restoration spoken by the prophets had not yet come to pass. Described in scripture as “just” and “devout” and as “one who was waiting for the Consolation of Israel,” Simeon lived out those dark years in joyful, watchful anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel.
What a difference the light of revelation makes! While the rest of the people milling around were consumed with their own concerns –what they would eat, what they would drink, what they would wear–Simeon was witnessing God’s plan of salvation for humanity. Moreover, Simeon knew, by the Holy Spirit, that Christ would not only be the “Consolation of Israel,” but a “Light of Revelation to the Gentiles.” Simeon foresaw, in that moment, the salvation of many people to come who were at that time outside of God’s covenant–including most of us who are believers today. We are the beneficiaries of this “Light of Revelation.”
Sometimes, in small and big ways, it seems that we are living in darkness in our personal lives, our communities, and our nation. We look at the world around us, and we are full of fear, dread, and anxiety about the future. Perhaps we are full of sorrow, grief, or regret over the past.
Like Simeon, we can look at God’s Word and see that it is full of promises for us: promises of provision, protection, victory, and the ultimate good and happiness of God’s people. Our light of revelation has come, and God’s plan of salvation has been revealed in the person of Christ. And one day–like Simeon–we will see Jesus face to face.