“For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations;
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
Luke 2:30-32 (NIV)
I’ve often wondered how much time the average person spends in waiting during a lifetime. We expect to wait at a doctor’s office; we wait in carpool lines to pick up children or grandchildren; we stand in long lines at amusement parks. Just before the Covid pandemic, I stood in line at a grocery store for nearly an hour, waiting to check out. I joked with the couple in line behind me that my green bananas had already ripened in my cart. I’m aware of many people who are waiting for God. Some are waiting for His healing, some need His comfort, and others are searching for peace.
The Bible tells us, in Luke 2:25 and following, that a man named Simeon was waiting for God’s comfort on the nation of Israel. We don’t know much about Simeon, other than that he is righteous and devout, and he is filled with the Holy Spirit. He has been told by the Spirit that he will live to see God’s provision of salvation for Israel. We do not know how long he has been waiting, but we can assume Simeon is elderly, since he says he is ready to die.
When Jesus was eight days old, He was circumcised and given His name, according to the requirements of the law. When Jesus is forty days old, Mary and Joseph come to the temple to fulfill other laws: the dedication of Jesus as Mary’s firstborn son, and her purification following childbirth. (You can read about these requirements in Exodus 13:12-15 and Leviticus 12:2-8.) As Mary and Joseph enter the temple area with Jesus, Simeon has been directed by the Holy Spirit to be there. He meets the couple and takes the baby in his arms.
Mary and Joseph marvel at Simeon’s words. He praises God as “Sovereign Lord,” and tells God He may now let Simeon die in peace, since He has kept His promise. Simeon announces that he has seen the promised Salvation, who is both a light to the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel. Jesus came to save both Jews and Gentiles alike.
Simeon turns to Mary and Joseph and blesses the couple, but he further warns Mary that her Child will cause many to rise and fall in Israel. Many will gladly accept God’s provision of salvation; but many people will also scoff and turn away. Simeon adds that Mary’s own soul will be pierced. Perhaps this is a warning that her heart will ache when her Son is rebuffed. Perhaps Simeon is warning that Mary will bear great pain when Jesus is crucified for the sins of the world.
As a mother and grandmother, I know my own heart aches when my children or grandchildren are hurting. I share their sorrows as well as their joys. I rejoice when they embrace the teachings of Jesus, but my heart hurts when they take matters into their own hands. Like Simeon, I wait for God to intervene. I pray and wait for God to reveal Himself to those who need His presence, His touch, and His salvation. I’m guessing you do, also.