Bible reading: Luke 2:25–35
Simeon was a godly man who lived through the occupation of his land and, with other people of prayer, waited quietly and patiently on God, hoping for the salvation the Messiah would one day bring. Joseph and Mary brought the infant Jesus to Jerusalem when He was forty days old, so as to make a sacrifice as required by the Law of Moses (Lev. 12:1–8).
The details in this story are utterly fascinating – many scholars believe that Luke spent significant time researching his Gospel with Mary the mother of Jesus, so we know, for example, that Mary and Joseph were relatively poor, as they could not afford to offer a lamb (Luke 2:24).
As the story unfolds we are given an amazing insight into God’s timing. As this poor couple come into the temple, they meet an old man named Simeon, a man who has spent his life in prayer, worship and faithful expectation of the day when God would comfort His people. God had promised Simeon through the Holy Spirit that he would not die without seeing with his own eyes the Messiah, the anointed King.
We do not know whether he knew of the details of Jesus’ birth – the star, the stable, the angels and the Magi – perhaps through the testimony of the shepherds or from someone else. But, in God’s perfect timing, the kairos moment occurs – led by the Holy Spirit he is in the right place at the right time in order to meet the holy family in the Temple. There is no equivocation or doubt in Simeon’s mind – this is the kairos moment of his life, he has longed for the fulfillment of the promise of the Messiah and he sees in the child Jesus the focus of his hopes and longings.
Simeon takes the child in his arms. As a mother myself I remember feeling uneasy about people wanting to hold my babies in the early days, unless they were close family members or friends. How must Mary have felt as this elderly man took her baby? But He was no ordinary child, and Mary knew that truth. Perhaps she anticipated the prophet’s recognition of divinity in her child. Simeon breaks into praise – a song later known as the ‘Song of Simeon’ or the Nunc Dimittis (in Latin, ‘now dismiss’).
In the baby Jesus, Simeon recognised that the Messiah had come and, with the fulfillment of the hope of his life, he was now ready ‘to depart this life in peace’. This is extraordinary. In that kairos moment Simeon is so happy that he is ready to die. What has he seen in this child Jesus?
In Jesus, Simeon saw immediately that salvation had come.
‘For my eyes have seen your salvation …’ (v.30). Simeon recognised Jesus as the One who would bring salvation to humanity. In a culture that revered age and learning, this is utterly revolutionary: an old man pays homage to a baby and calls Him God’s Saviour for the world.
In Jesus, Simeon saw that the prophecies of the Old Testament were being fulfilled: ‘… you have prepared in the sight of all the people …’ (v.31). The Old Testament was known by the nations of the world around Israel – people knew of their hopes and expectations of a Messiah. Simeon here declares that the time has come for the fulfillment of those promises, and this is a certainty, so people will know for sure that the Messiah has come. The time they had been longing for was here. Imagine his excitement after the long expectation – the time is now!
In Jesus, Simeon saw that the light For the Gentiles had come. He recognised in that moment that Jesus was not only a Saviour for Israel but for the whole world: ‘… a light for revelation to the Gentiles …’ (v.32).
Here Simeon grasps something profound about Jesus that even the disciples struggled to realise. In that kairos moment of revelation, as he holds the Son of God in his arms he sees the truth. Simeon also saw in Jesus that this child was ‘for glory to your people Israel’ (v.32).
Pause to reflect:
Think about the eternal significance of this kairos moment in Simeon’s life. He is holding the Son of God in his arms and he is able to recognise who Jesus really is. In the light of that truth he is totally surrendered to God. He is able to die in peace, seeing the fulfillment of his hopes.
Thank God for His perfect timing – that Simeon got to hold the baby Jesus and that Jesus is a light to the whole world. Spend time thanking the Lord for His glorious revelation of Himself in Jesus.
1. What might Mary and Joseph have felt in the moment of encounter with Simeon?
2. What is the dream of your life? Is there a fulfillment of a dream that might cause you to echo with Simeon the Nunc Dimittis?
3. Have you really grasped the truth that Jesus is the light to all the nations? Are there people in your life whom you have thought are somehow too far away for Jesus’ light to be relevant to them?