Before I jump back into Harbor’s reading plan for the New Year, I’ve been reflecting a good bit on Simeon’s reaction when he comes across the infant-yes Ricky Bobby, the cute little 8 lb baby Jesus. Here’s the passage in Luke 2.
And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant[e] depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
Simeon had been told that he would witness this new Savior first hand before he died. So at the end of his life, when he finally gets to meet this cute little Savior, how does he respond? I mean, he really would not live to see all of the benefits the Savior would bring to him, his countrymen, and the world. And yet Jesus this snippet of Jesus was plenty. He rejoiced. How cool is that?
Today we see so much of what Jesus became, with his life, death, resurrection, and His church moving forward to all parts of the globe. And yet we haven’t seen ALL that He will do. There is still a future component, of which we will most likely not be alive to witness firsthand: Jesus’ return to renew all things. But even now, we, like Simeon can rejoice for what is to come, not just what has come to pass.
Why is this? Because the past, present, future of “salvation” is so tied up in the person of Jesus, that to experience him now, means that all parts of our salvation (freedom from sin’s punishment/power/presence) bring us joy today. Just like with Simeon. Our past, present, future are tied together in His past/present/future.
What brings us peace? Is it a promotion, a relationship, a success? No! We know those things never deliver, but Jesus never fails. If our concept of salvation revolves around Jesus, not Jesus so-I-can-get-what-I-really-want, then we can expect interactions with Jesus in weekly worship, bible reading, community groups, to be joy filled experiences.
Who is salvation for? It is for the Jew AND Gentile. It is for the racially/radically excluded people to be racially/radically included in God’s people. Salvation is not simply for us, but for others. When we think of salvation primarily in personal terms, it becomes self-absorbed and misses Jesus. And thus misses joy. When we think of salvation primarily in terms of what it brings us, and not others who are yet to believe, it misses Jesus. He came for the near and the far off. The religious and the irreligious. The “good” and the “bad.” The rich and the poor. It is good news for those inside the church and the offer extends to those outside the church. It’s good news for the individual and good news for the community. Do we see both and, or either or?
If Simeon had a snippet of Jesus, then we have the whole picture. How much more joy and peace is there in store for us today? We can depart in peace and we can live in peace, not looking for anything/anyone else to save and satisfy us than this Savior. He’s that good.