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Christmas

Simeon’s Song of Prophecy & Praise

For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Luke 2:30-35 NKJV

The Song of a Prophet

This song of Simeon is the fourth of four songs or canticles found in the beginning of Luke. We have read songs by Zechariah, Mary and the angels. Now we read Simeon’s song of praise. These canticles have since antiquity been named after the first word or words, also known as the incipit of the song, in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible. This ancient translation was completed in 400 A.D. by biblical scholar Jerome. The first words of Simeon’s song in Latin (verse 29) are “Nunc dimittis” meaning “Now you dismiss.” Simeon is saying that God is now releasing him from earthly life because he met the Lord’s anointed, the Christ, baby Jesus.

Who Is This Jesus?

In today’s reading, we see Simeon continuing his song. Simeon prophetically tells us the identity of Jesus.

The blessed baby is:

  1. Salvation for all people
  2. Light to the Gentiles
  3. The glory of Israel

Mary and Joseph are amazed at this continuing revelation of the identity of their new baby. Zechariah, Elizabeth, the angels and now Simeon revealed the truth of who this baby is and what he came to accomplish.

Blessing and Hard Truths

Then Simeon blessed the Holy Child and his family. Instead of leaving after the blessing, Simeon turns his attention to Mary. She is likely feeling the joy and warmth of the old prophets’ blessing when he turns to speak to her directly. I imagine he addressed her with a slight heaviness in his heart as God, through the Holy Spirit, showed him that difficult times are ahead for Mary and Jesus. Simeon faithfully gives the hard message that:

  1. Jesus will cause both the fall and rise of many in Israel. Some will accept Jesus and rise to everlasting life while others who reject him will stumble and break. (Isa. 8:14; Rom. 9:32)
  2. Jesus will be spoken against. In just a couple of years, Herod will be the first to oppose Jesus when he makes the command to kill all the babies in an attempt to get rid of Jesus whom he feels threatened by. At the end of his life, Jesus will be spoken against by the Jewish religious leaders. From beginning to end, Jesus faced opposition at Simeon prophesied.
  3. Mary will be hurt by what happens to her son. The word for sword used here refers to a very large, broad sword. The verb construction reflect an action that occurs continuously or repeatedly. We see in Mary’s life that she is a mother who watched her son endure much opposition throughout his ministry.

Key Verse

A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel. Luke 2:32

Prayer

Lord, Thank you for Jesus, our salvation, the light of the world, through whom we see the glory of God. Thank you for the example of these godly parents who sought to do your will in the resining of their child from his infancy. Thank you for the prophecies about Jesus so that we might believe and know with certainty why we believe and who we believe in. Amen.

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Bible Study Christmas

Simeon and Jesus

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just 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. So he came by 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;

Luke 2:25-29 NKJV

Portrait of a Prophet

This is not a good time for Israel. Like in their time of bondage in Egypt, God seems to have forgotten them. He doesn’t seem to see their suffering at the hand of the oppressive Romans. Or if he sees, God seems not to care. Where is the promised salvation? Will Messiah ever come?

No Angels Needed

Simeon remembers. He has been waiting in joyful hope. A devoted Jew, he was blessed by a revelation from the Holy Spirit. It was revealed to him that the Messiah, the “Consolation of Israel”, would come to God’s people in his lifetime. Yes, he was old, old enough to die a natural death. Yet he knew he would not die before Messiah came to rescue his people. So he waited. Probably, he looked for a royal procession or armies led by a successful general to fulfill the prophecy. No angel had to come and proclaim hope to him. The Holy Spirit already spoke to him.

The Spirit Stays

The same Spirit who gave Simeon the revelation about the coming of Christ now directs Simeon to the temple. Mary and Joseph arrived at the temple with baby Jesus to find Simeon waiting for them. Simeon, still filled with the Holy Spirit, recognizes Jesus as the fulfillment of the revelation he was given.

James Tissot, The Presentation
James Tissot, The Presentation

Blessing and Honor Given

Simeon reacted to the presence of Jesus, promise fulfilled, in the only way he could, by thanking and praising God. God was true to his word! How sweet it is to wait patiently for the Lord, confident that he will come through, and have his promises fulfilled! Simeon recognized how privileged he was to hold the Savior in his arms. He must have felt such peace and joy!

Key Verse

he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

Luke 2:28 NKJV

Have you accepted Jesus and blessed God for his wonderful gift?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, Thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus. You sent your only Son to earth to be our Consolation, our Savior. Help us to live in gratitude and remember this great truth everyday but especially this Christmas. Amen.

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Bible Study Christmas Devotional

Jesus is Named & Presented

And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who 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.”

Luke 2:21-24 NKJV

Bridging the Gap

Circumcision

Jesus’ life represents movement from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. He lived, died and was resurrected to usher in a new way for us to have forgiveness of our sins. The temple curtain will be torn, the veil between God and man destroyed. The law of Moses is fulfilled through Jesus. His participation in Mosaic legal requirements is the beginning of this role. Now, reigning at the right hand of the Father, the risen Jesus completely fulfills the role of high priest, see Hebrews 8.