Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said,
“Lord, you are the King over all.
Now let me, your servant, go in peace.
That is what you promised.
My eyes have seen your salvation.
You have prepared it in the sight of all nations.
It is a light to be given to the Gentiles.
It will be the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them. He said to Mary, Jesus’ mother, “This child is going to cause many people in Israel to fall and to rise. God has sent him. But many will speak against him. The thoughts of many hearts will be known. A sword will wound your own soul too.”
Luke 2:28-35 (New International Reader’s Version)
Jesus is here. Since November 29th to Christmas Eve, we waited for the Christ during Advent. On Christmas Eve, we returned to that night in Scripture, song and services where we remembered Jesus’s birth in that lonely manger; and the shepherds who saw the Christ and made their report. On Christmas Day, we feted, feasted and fellowshipped with friends and loved ones as we celebrated the newborn Christ. We opened our gifts at home yesterday, then spent the rest of the day at our cousin’s over dinner, dessert, and family fun.
Okay, now that Jesus is here…what next?
Today’s Scripture takes us to the temple, where Jesus was circumcised eight days after his birth. The priest, Simeon as he blesses the boy, makes some interesting pronouncements on his future. Simeon first uses the analogies of “salvation,” “light,” and “glory.” To me, I see “salvation” as deliverance/liberation from our ego-driven sinfulness and living below our God-given potential. “Light” is Divine enlightenment for all of humanity; how the light of Christ pierces through our “dark night of the soul” and our spiritual blindness. “Glory” as that Jesus will stand out from the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament as God pulled out all the stops with him.
So far the pronouncements amazed Mary and Joseph. However, the next pronouncements were ominous. Jesus will cause many “to fall and to rise,” which to me smacks of Isaiah 40:4:
Everyvalley will be filled in. Every mountain and hill will be made level. The rough ground will be smoothed out. The rocky places will be made flat.
Jesus fulfilled this pronouncement as he lifted up the marginalized of Israel, whilst causing the powerful-especially the religious elites-to “fall” in the eyes of Israel. Jesus was a Jew who connected with both the common Jew and Gentile.
Also, despite his Divine origins, Jesus was attacked verbally by The Powers That Be in his day; and physically during his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. He was spoken against over and over again-even by his own disciples. Even after he died, Jesus’s credibility was still attacked.
He also could tell what many thought about. We saw this over and over again when the Pharisees and other religious leaders tried to trip Jesus up with their twisted “theology”; and Jesus put the spiritual smackdown on them. God was so in Jesus, that the Divine-through the Holy Spirit-empowered Jesus to literally read those morons’ minds (or lack thereof).
Eventually this would be a “sword” to “wound” Mary’s own soul. God only knows the pains she felt over the years as she and Joseph would have to leave home for Egypt to avoid Herod’s hunt for Jesus (Matthew 2:13-18). Mary felt it during the three years Jesus ministered to his people and the attacks he bore on his (and her) characters. Then Mary ultimately felt the wound-as deep as a wound can go-when she watched her son die on a cross; an innocent man dying the worst way a Jew can die.
Now that Jesus is here, we see what’s next. Despite what’s next, it’s still going to be good.
(Image: Path at Great Swamp. Taken by Me).