Sunday

02 February 2014

“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.” (vv. 30-31)


Background

As faithful Jews, Jesus' parents fulfilled the requirements of the law. The systems of sacrifices were God-given religious practices which brought love of God and respect for the wellbeing of the community into every element of daily life. Here two ceremonies were involved: one to present the first-born male child and the second to purify the mother following childbirth. We can tell that Mary was poor because with the birth of a son she was required to offer a lamb and a dove or pigeon, but if she could not afford the lamb then a second bird was also acceptable (verse 24).

Simeon was righteous and devout, a person who exemplified respect for the wellbeing of the community and his love of God. The consolation of Israel was the hope for the coming of the Messiah who would deliver the Jews from the tyranny of foreign rulers, at this point the Romans.

Simeon was unusual in that the text says that the Holy Spirit rested with him (verse 25). In the Old Testament, the Spirit came upon people on special occasions, but here the Spirit seemed to be a continuing presence. This suggested that the Spirit was pointing to a particularly significant event, the birth of the Messiah.

Simeon was not necessarily old. Inspired by the Spirit he was prompted to come to the temple, and his faithful waiting and heart's longing were fulfilled. He took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God that his eyes had seen God's salvation prepared in the presence of all peoples.

In the Psalms to 'see' God was often a synonym for the experience of God delivering the psalmist from troubles or for the sense of life lived in God's presence. Simeon's moment of 'seeing' was a moment of profound unveiling of the purposes of God for the healing of all the nations. Jesus' birth was witnessed to by all peoples. It was light showing God's nature to Gentiles (non Jews), and showed the beauty (glory) to God's chosen people Israel.


To Ponder

  • Describe the picture or image which speaks to you of God's salvation to you and your people, which also includes all peoples.
  • How could God satisfy the deepest longing of your heart, so that like Simeon you could depart in peace (verse 29)? How can you be faithful in working with God in this?


Bible notes author:    The Revd Jenny Ellis

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