And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “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.”And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”Luke 2:22-35, ESV
Remember the 400 silent years we talked about? (https://aaronirlbacher.com/2020/12/05/wheres-the-chariot/ ) Simeon was a priest like Zechariah to whom God’s Spirit had given special revelation. God was speaking. Simeon was told that he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Christ, and the Lord does not break His promises. Simeon, walking in the Spirit, came into the Temple and laid His eyes upon Jesus and knew who this child was. How did he know? How could he know? This was a man who had a special walk with the Lord. His legacy isn’t etched into history for his extraordinary deeds, but his legacy is contained in a brief excerpt here in Luke’s gospel. We might talk about legacy another time, but consider what kind of legacy you hope to leave behind. Simeon was a humble servant of the Lord who was more or less unknown to the general population but he is intimately known and loved by Jehovah.
Comforting the Mourners…
This old priest was waiting for this day to come. He sounds like a man who has lived his life, grown tired and worn, and is ready to be with the Lord. Can you hear it in his words? Simeon said, “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”. I imagine he looked forward to the Lord’s Christ to enter His Temple soon for two reasons. First, he was a devout Jew with a deep love for his countrymen and longed to see their freedom and peace established. Second, he was a contented elder who missed those loved ones who had gone before him and he longed for a reunion in the presence of his God.
Luke comments in the narrative that Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel. What does the word “consolation” mean here? Luke is telling us that Simeon was waiting for God to comfort His people. Isaiah 61 might have been on his mind. The consolation or comfort of Israel could only be referring to the promise of wholeness, justice, peace, restoration, and prosperity that the Messiah would bring. Israel was a nation that had been mourning for generations. Their storied past of glory under the rules of David and Solomon were long over but the promise of God for a Davidic ruler who would restore Israel to glory was always the longing of pious Jews.
Simeon knew that the Lord’s Christ would soon enter His Temple and he knew the promise of God to comfort His people through that Christ. The Spirit of the Lord God would be upon that man to bring the gospel, heal the brokenhearted, free God’s people, judge between the wheat and the chaff, and comfort all who mourn. This Christ was to be the son of David who will usher in a renewed glory. Not a renewal of the old Davidic Kingdom but a renewal of the entire created order where God’s people are truly a royal priesthood.
1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,Isaiah 61:1-7
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
5 Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks;
foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
6 but you shall be called the priests of the Lord;
they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God;
you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
and in their glory you shall boast.
7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.
A Light for the Nations…
Upon seeing the infant Christ Simeon carries him into his arms and opens his mouth to bless God with a prophetic testimony of this baby boy’s identity, purpose, and fate. This Jesus was the Saviour for Jews and Gentiles, His purpose was for the fall of some and rising of others, and his fate was to be pierced through. Simeon may have had Isaiah 49 on his mind as he spoke. This was the child called from the womb who was made from a woman. His mouth was like a double-edged sword and He has been sent into the world with a single focus like an arrow shot at its mark. Jesus was the servant of God, the true Israel in whom God would be glorified by bringing the sons of Jacob back to their God and by bringing Gentiles into the worship of Jehovah to create a single people from all nations of the earth.
1 Listen to me, O coastlands,Isaiah 49:1-7, ESV
and give attention, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow;
in his quiver he hid me away.
3 And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the Lord,
and my recompense with my God.”
5 And now the Lord says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
6 he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
7 Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation,
the servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise;
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”