The consolation of Israel: Luke 2
Today’s reading: Luke 2-3.
Only eight days after his birth, and long before the wise men came calling, Jesus encountered a godly man named Simeon. It was at the temple in Jerusalem where his parents took him to be circumcised and to give an offering. Through the power of the Spirit, Simeon revealed much about Jesus.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:25-32
The consolation of Israel. Consolation refers to comfort. The Jews had suffered much oppression from others and because of their own rebellion against God, and they longed for comfort. “Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed…” (Isaiah 40). Isaiah foresaw the day when the kingdom of God would be established on earth. All that he and Simeon saw will not be completed until Jesus comes back to reign as Lord on Earth.
The Lord’s Christ. Jesus would be the anointed one, the Messiah, who would deliver his people.
The Lord’s salvation. Jesus would save people from their oppressors but most of all from the oppression of sin.
The light of revelation to the Gentiles. God had blessed the Jews so they could bless the rest of the world, but Jesus would fulfill what the Jews had failed to do and bring the Gentiles into the family of God.
The glory of Israel. Simeon looked down the ages to the day when, not just a few, but the entire nation of Israel, would believe in Jesus and glorify him.
“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35
He will cause the fall and rise of many in Israel. The first would be last, and the last first. The proud would be humbled and the lowly exalted because of their relationship, or lack of it, with Jesus.
He will be a sign that is spoken against. It has never been more true than today that the name of Jesus stirs up unparalleled opposition among unbelievers from every part of the world.
He will reveal the thoughts of many hearts. A person’s response to Jesus reveals their heart condition.
In this advent season, let’s celebrate all the ways that Jesus fulfilled Simeon’s vision – for bringing us comfort, for delivering us, for saving us from sin, for shedding the light of his truth in our darkness, and for revealing the glory of God.
Image, “Simeon in the temple,” by Rembrandt