On the day that Joseph and Mary took the infant Jesus to Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord, an old man called Simeon was there. The Holy Spirit had previously told Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the long-expected Messiah, the long-awaited Saviour.
When he saw Jesus, Simeon, moved by the Spirit, took him in his arms, recognizing him as the Messiah, and describing him as God's 'salvation ... prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.'
In Simeon's words the mission of Jesus the Messiah is revealed as something far bigger, and far more important and impactive than the political rescue and restoration of Israel: in and through him God is revealed to the whole world; in and through him spiritual salvation is proclaimed to the ends of the earth.
In these words Simeon reflects the prophecy of Isaiah: 'I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth', 'kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.'
Through this child, not only does God's salvation come, but also this - that through this child God is revealed, through this child, God is made known. Hidden in this fact is the deep and simple truth that to know God actually is salvation. To know God by knowing this child, this Christ, is to have eternal life.
Simeon also identifies an element of tension and trauma in the destiny and impact of this child - he will cause many to rise and fall, he will be spoken against, and as a result of his coming the true thoughts of men's hearts will be exposed.
Again Simeon reflects Isaiah: 'He was despised and rejected by men ... 'like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not' - 'who has believed our message '. Simeon's words also anticipate words that Jesus himself later spoke to the unbelieving Jews: 'If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.'
Our response to this child, this Christ, indicates the true nature of our response to God and to his Word. Irrespective of our claims to 'believe in God', or to believe the Bible, if we do not acknoweldge Jesus Christ as God then all of those claims are proved empty.
This child, this Christ, by his nature, by his actions, by his claims, lays bare the content of every heart and mind: our response to him is the pivotal point on which our eternal destiny is decided, and the dividing point which sets one man apart from another.
Scriptures: Luke 2:21-38; Isaiah 49:6; 52:15; 53:3,1; John 5:23,45-47; 17:3.