Scripture: Luke 2:22-40
Key Verse(s): And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (v. 34-35)
Observation: Luke tells the story of Mary and Joseph presenting “their” son Jesus to the Lord through the eyes of Anna and Simeon. Simeon is described as righteous and devout. According to Luke, Simeon’s righteousness is the work of God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is upon Simeon and guides him to the temple just as Mary and Joseph are entering. Simeon under the control of the Holy Spirit takes the baby into his arms and speaks prophetic words to his parents. According to Simeon, Jesus will reveal the true essence of people. The way people respond to Jesus’ life and teaching will reveal what is in their hearts. This revelation is not limited to Israel but is available to Gentiles as well. Likewise, Luke ascribes righteousness to Anna by calling her a prophetess. She too speaks with the authority of one empowered by God. Luke emphasizes Anna’s devotion by telling us that she did not leave the temple. Her entire life is spent worshiping God with fasting and praying. Anna’s role as a prophetess means that she speaks to “all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (v. 38) Simeon and Anna have waited their entire life for the rise after the fall that Jesus represents.
Analysis: This is the first Sunday after Christmas. The parties and family gatherings are behind us. We have an eye toward the New Year’s Day celebration with the understanding that we will soon be returning to school and work. We have ridden the rise of excitement and anticipation and now we are experiencing the fall of the return to normal. It is in this time that we hear Luke say that Jesus will be the source of the fall and rising of many. It is in this time of feeling let down or falling that we are to receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior so that we rise with him. If we reduce the Christmas season to a series of parties, getting together for caroling, or even well-done church services, then we will be let down when the season is over. However, if we recognize our need for a Savior, if we realize that Jesus exposes our sin so that we can be redeemed, then we begin to understand what Christmas is truly about. We begin to recognize the reason we celebrate. By reversing our common phrasing of rising and falling to falling and rising, Luke prepares us to join Anna and Simeon in praising God even in the midst of our fallen world knowing that Jesus has come to save us all.
Prayer: Gracious God, open us to receive the light that Jesus represents. Open our eyes to see our fallen nature that the light of Jesus exposes. Open our hearts to be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we may rise from our fallen state and be reconciled with you through Jesus. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.