Author’s Note: Interested readers can find all previous volumes of this series here.
Among my favorite New Testament Bible verses is the story of Simeon in the Gospel of Luke 2:25-35.
If you love and read the Bible, then you are familiar with Simeon and his Divine intervention with the baby Jesus in the Jerusalem Temple. But if unfamiliar, YOU are the reason why I write this series — engaging those who don’t read the Bible — which unfortunately is most of the population these days.
The story of Simeon is simple yet layered with complex prophecy. A newborn is brought to the Temple for a ritual required by Jewish law. The elderly Simeon recognizes the baby as the Messiah, who God had promised Simeon would see before he died.
Simeon praises God and prophesizes how the baby will impact Israel, Church theology, mother Mary, and “all the nations.” Besides all that, Simeon’s revelations are beautiful, bittersweet, and ultimately happen, as stated.
Let’s read together…
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 on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah.
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 may now dismiss your servant in peace. 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."
The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother:
"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. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
Here is why those verses are meaningful.
He was waiting for the consolation of Israel..
The word “consolation,” as written here, equates to the Messiah.
…and the Holy Spirit was on him.
Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts…
The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity of the Almighty — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that comes upon a person or people to move in a direction with a Godly purpose. However, after the Baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit makes its grand public appearance at Pentecost in the Book of Acts (2:1-13), shortly after Christ’s resurrection and return to Heaven.
Subsequently, followers of Christ believe the Holy Spirit permanently dwells in them.
“For my eyes have seen your salvation...”
Is Simeon speaking broadly that through salvation from the Messiah that Israel will be delivered from her enemies? Or is he talking about his personal salvation and eternal life through Christ? There are many interpretations of Simeon’s prophecy, and I pose my thoughts as questions and expect readers to comment.
“…you have prepared in the sight of all nations…”
Is Simeon saying that the world will eventually see who Jesus was? Could Simeon also be prophesizing about the creation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948? Never in history has a people regained their homeland after 2,000 years. Moreover, Israel has retained its land against all odds, surrounded by enemies who want to destroy the tiny nation.
“….a light for revelation to the Gentiles..”
Gentiles, unlike Jews, will see the Messiah as the “Light of the World.” (Except for my brethren and I, who recognize His light and call ourselves “Messianic Jews.”)
“…glory of your people Israel."
Yes, I believe the people of Israel will someday see the glory of Jesus.
"This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel..”
That’s an understatement. Simeon is prophesizing that during the time of Jesus, many people in Israel will not accept Him.
“..and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.”
The birth of Jesus is a sign that the Messiah has come to Israel (and the world).
Jesus would cause much strife then and into the future.
“And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
Speaking to Mary, Simeon proclaims the heartbreak she will witness. Besides being present at her son’s crucifixion, is Simeon referring to the spear that will be thrust into Jesus’ side after his death?
But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water (John 19:33-34).
Admittedly, my brief explanations about the meaning of Simeon’s prophecies barely scratch the surface. However, if I have piqued your interest, Mr. Google can direct you to many in-depth commentaries and studies of this famous passage. Additionally, for lovers of religious art, over the centuries, Simeon holding baby Jesus in the Temple has been a popular subject.
Thanks for reading. I hope you have enjoyed and been inspired by today’s study.