“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
A year or so ago, I had to berate one of my Sixth Form students for displaying a rather high level of ignorance of current affairs. I was astounded that someone who was supposed to be very intelligent could have so little awareness of what was happening in the world around him. I was even more astounded, though, when he remarked that he was a public school boy, and was supposed to be ignorant. Unfortunately, during my short career teaching history in independent schools, I have often come across pupils who believe themselves to be better than everyone else, simply because their parents chose to pay for their education.
By the time of Jesus’ coming, there were quite deep divisions in some areas between the Jewish people and the non-Jews, known as the Gentiles. The Jewish people, after all, were God’s chosen people. Unfortunately, a small minority believed that this made them better than other people. It is therefore surprising to find this statement from Simeon when Jesus attended the temple with his parents. Simeon states that God’s salvation is not just for glory to the Jews – the people of Israel – but is also a light for revelation to the Gentiles. Simeon understands the magnificence of God’s salvation plan; anyone can now how forgiveness and be saved, not simply the Jews.
Some Christians around the world have Jewish roots, but many of us do not. We have much to be thankful for, therefore. God, through Jesus brings salvation to anyone who accepts Jesus as their saviour. Forgiveness is not reserved for a special group, but is open to all. This is reason for praise indeed!