I have really come to appreciate this character Simeon. Mary and Joseph have just entered the temple, and there is Mary holding her newborn son, when up walks Simeon. Simeon is a faithful, devout man- a rock in the church, who is full of faith. I imagine him as safe, the kind of person you want to be around and you want your kids to be around. He sees Jesus, and he lights up. He takes him in is arms as Mary graceful hands him over, and Simeon looks deeply into the eyes of the Christ- the one for whom he’s been waiting. Simeon knows the Hebrew story and condition, and, full of faith, he’s been waiting for the one who will rescue, restore, and redeem. And here he is. His name is Jesus. The Hebrew word is Yeshua (Joshua in English), meaning “Yahweh saves”. Simeon can die now for, as he says, his eyes have seen “the Lord’s salvation”, have seen “Yahweh Saves”. And then he moves into those poetic words, and calls Jesus, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
It confirms everything Mary and Joseph were told and believe about who this child is and will become. It’s important to note what Simeon says about the gentiles. Just as the angel told the shepherds, this is “good news of great joy for all the people.” In the Greek the word “all” there means… “all”. Jesus is not just hear for the restoration of Israel. He is here for all the people. He is here to fulfill Israel’s purpose from way back to Abraham, which is “to be a blessing for the world”. And now here he is: The one who will call Israel back not to being a great nation, but people a kind of people who make the world great. Insiders and outsiders, Jews and gentiles, male and female, rich and poor- this Jesus, this “Yahweh Saves” will be the light illuminating the truth that we are all one and all are invited.
There is more to this story, but we will save that for tomorrow. For now, let’s slow the story down and let this moment be freeze-framed in our minds. The faithful Simeon, full of the Spirit and of faith, holding the Christ child naming him exactly as he is: The Lord’s salvation, a light for the revelation to the gentiles, and glory for Israel. What a scene.