In Luke chapter 2, Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple for the customary purification sacrifice required by the law. This happened a little over a week after Jesus was born. The wise men showed up when Jesus was around two, and they were still living in Bethlehem. It wasn’t until after the wise men came that Joseph took his family and fled to Egypt. When they return to Israel, they settled in Nazareth. Those events happen in Matthew and are omitted by Luke, probably because the flight of one family and the deaths of a bunch of Jewish children really didn’t have much meaning to Luke’s Gentile audience as opposed to Matthew’s Jewish audience. Instead, Luke goes from the presentation of Jesus at the temple straight to the family living in Nazareth, with a summary statement about how Jesus grew up.
That’s your history lesson for today.
But while they were at the temple, a man named Simeon came up to them to bless the child. Here’s what he said:
Luke 2:29-33, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen our salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” And [Jesus’s] father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.
Most of this was expected. Both Joseph and Mary had been told about the nature of Jesus and his ultimate role as the Messiah. Yet they were Jews. The Israelites were looking for a very narrow/personal savior. They were looking for someone who could rescue them from the 400+ years of captivity and dominance from other countries. They wanted things the way they “used to be.”
Funny how our memories of how things “used to be” are seldom accurate of how things actually were. They wanted God to be their King again. They wanted to be independent. They wanted physical and political salvation for their country and identity.
What they got was Jesus. And Simeon said he was “prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light of revelation to the Gentiles…”
This was mind-blowing. Joseph and Mary were “amazed” by this. They pretty much knew everything else, but salvation to the Gentiles was not even on their radar. Suddenly, Simeon is saying something different than what every Jew expected. Salvation was for the Romans too. Not just the Romans. For the world.
Maybe “salvation” wasn’t what they thought it meant.
We get caught up in our relationship with God and our interaction with church, and we think about the benefits to us alone. We look for what God can do for us…what church can do for us. We want Jesus to be the Savior and Messiah just for our own little world.
The truth is, it’s not about you!
Jesus is for everyone. He’s not limited to your problems. Our selfishness prevents us from seeing this. God’s plans are far greater than our wants and desires. It’s time we woke up and realized that we’re part of something greater. And we should share that instead of keeping it to ourselves. We need to stop being consumers. It’s not about you, your family, or your church. It’s not about saving just you from your problems. It’s not about rescuing you from your troubles.
It’s about saving the entire world.
Are you a part of that plan? Or are you trying to keep Jesus to yourself? It’s impossible. You can’t do it. If we keep silent, the rocks will cry out. Time to gain some perspective on who Jesus is to all humanity.
Sure our relationship with Jesus is personal. Sure our salvation experience is individual and unique. But you’re not the only one.
Jesus didn’t come for you. He came for everyone.