Tuesday 02 February 2016

Bible Book:

“A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (v. 32)

Luke 2:22-32 Tuesday 2 February 2016

Psalm: Psalm 24


Today marks the Feast of Candlemas, or thePresentation of Christ in the temple, as it is told in Luke'sGospel. On the face of it, it seems an all too human story as theparents take their first-born child to Jerusalem to present himbefore the Lord and to offer the sacrifices which the Mosaic lawrequired (verse 23). But reading more closely we find that thisstory, which appears only in Luke's Gospel, draws out some themeswhich will become apparent later in Jesus' ministry.

In the temple Joseph, Mary and Jesus met anold and righteous man by the name of Simeon who had long beenwaiting for "the consolation of Israel" (v. 25). There is a sensein which Simeon symbolises that faithful remnant of Israel whichawaits the fulfilment of God's promises through his prophets. Whenthe infant Jesus arrived in the temple, Simeon was led by theSpirit to take the baby in his arms (verse 28) and offer thatwonderful song of praise which has come to known as the NuncDimittis.

The familiarity of this canticle, which hasbecome an integral part of the Order for Evening Prayer, sometimescauses us to overlook its profound challenge. For while Simeonrejoiced that he may now depart this life in peace, as in the formof this young child he had seen the salvation of Israel, he alsorecognised that salvation was not for Israel alone. Rather it hasbeen prepared "in the presence of all peoples" (v. 31) to be "alight for revelation to the Gentiles" as well as for "glory to yourpeople Israel".

For Simeon could see that this child bore amessage of salvation that stretched far beyond the bounds ofIsrael, whichis one of the themes of Luke's Gospel and, of course,the Acts of the Apostles. He also recognised that Jesus wouldpresent a challenge for the existing order in Israel, one "destinedfor the rising and falling of many" (Luke2:34); and he went on to tell Mary his mother that "a swordwill pierce your own soul too" (Luke2:35), a truth that will be born out as Jesus' life andministry unfolds. Finally, Simeon prepared the way for theprophetess Anna (in the verseswhich follow) to offer her own song of praise and promise forthe redemption of Jerusalem.

To Ponder

  • This is a story in which old and young meet. How important isit to ensure a place for those of all ages in the life and worshipof our Church?
  • Simeon's words to Mary include a warning about future pain. Howdowe encourage and support parents during those times when raisingchildren can be difficult? (This interview with the actress Sally Phillipsoffers some interesting insights.)

Previous Page Monday 01 February 2016
Next Page Wednesday 03 February 2016