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:
- Salvation for all people
- Light to the Gentiles
- 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:
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel. Luke 2:32
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.