Have you ever been around someone (or maybe you’re one of these people yourself) who sees things that most people don’t even notice? Are they just paying closer attention — or are they somehow able to see in a way others can’t? I imagine the Biblical character Simeon being like that — and Anna, who seemed to spend all her time praying. In Luke’s depiction of them we see that they were really paying attention. Or maybe they saw in a way no one else really did. Or maybe it was their time spent in prayer that allowed them to see more clearly what God was doing — to be in tune with God and what was going on around them.
This week we continue our Back to Basics: Luke’s Portrait of Jesus worship series with “Simeon’s Song about Jesus.” Luke reveals another shade of Jesus’ character not recounted in the other gospels.
Why is it that Luke chooses to tell us about Simeon? What did Simeon see that others didn’t? How was it that his eyes were open and he was in-tune enough to see what God was up to?
Other people probably just saw this nice couple bringing their eight-day-old baby to the temple, as was the custom. They saw nothing special or out of the ordinary there at all.
And yet now with the perspective of our faith, we know better. What makes this story distinctive, however, is that Simeon knew it even then. He knew that the baby being presented in the temple for circumcision was in fact the Christ child. Simeon, who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ, “. . . took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said,
‘Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word,
because my eyes have seen your salvation.
You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples.
It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and a glory for your people Israel.’”
So in this season of Epiphany — the season of revealing who Jesus is and what Jesus is about — we remember Simeon and hear him proclaim again the Good News of the coming of the Christ.
This is for Luke another way of validating the specialness of Jesus. And also with this broad-brush stroke, Luke is saying that this child is not only salvation for the Jewish people, but also a light to the Gentiles as well. Here Luke seems to be saying, with the help of Simeon, “This is WAY bigger than any of us thought.”
I think sometimes we look around us and see only bad news, problems, challenges, the day-to-day routines of life. What are we missing? Are we paying close enough attention to see the amazing, wonderful things that are also happening all around us? The basic truth of our faith is that God is always at work in the lives of people, and if only we can develop the ability to pay attention, we, too, can recognize God at work in someone’s life, in our community, and in our world.
I look forward to exploring with you how we can learn to pay attention that will allow us to see God’s work in our world, this Sunday in the Sanctuary.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster