“…a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:32
I don’t want to take these words lightly because these words are telling us there is hope for all people! Paul didn’t take these words lightly either. He reiterated, repeated, re-emphasized their truth. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” And he didn’t stop there, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:16,17)
Simeon, that old prophet who met Jesus, Mary, and Joseph at the temple that day didn’t just come to the temple because it was what he did that day. He came by the Spirit into the temple that day. He came at that specific time and into that specific room where that specific function of dedication was performed, there he was, for that specific child, Jesus. He took him up in his arms, blessing God, because the Holy Spirit had not only answered his prayer to see the Messiah before he died, but that this Messiah, this Prince of Peace he was holding in his very arms, was the salvation of ALL people. This Prince of Peace, who was only a little baby right now and physically contained within his very arms, was also to be a light to the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel.
Since creation, God has been the provider of light. He alone is the rightful provider because “…God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) James knew the wonder of that truth as well. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” (James 1:17,18)
God is the only One who can truly be a light for revelation to the Gentiles- to all the people who are non-Jews. This does not imply that Israel does not need His light, but only His glory. God’s light and glory are one. But one who is totally blind sees no light at all, and so was a Gentile, because a Gentile did not know God who is light itself, and the Father of lights. Israel knew that God was the light, but were not living in that truth, were not living in Him. To live in the Light is to live in His presence, in His glory. That is actually God’s goal for both of us, the Jew and the Gentile.
This light that was revealed to Simeon is so beyond our full comprehension. I mean, God is light. God. Did you hear that? God is light. Only God. But Simeon has said that this baby Jesus was a light for the Gentiles and glory for the people of Israel. How could he be that if that were not the light of God in Jesus? Is this what John was rejoicing in when he wrote of Jesus, “in him was life, and the life was the light of men”? (John 1:4) Or when he wrote, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”? (John 1:5) Or when he wrote about John’s witness about Jesus, that Jesus was “the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone”? (John 1:8,9) And why? “That all might believe through him.” (John 1:7)
“Light” is both the essence and the personality of God. Darkness is what is not of God, that which is evil, that which is sin, that which is corruption. So think of everything that is not sin or corruption or evil. What do you come up with? Everything that God is, like the wonderful fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness/meekness, and self-control; like “goodness, honesty, purity, wisdom, and glory,” are all part of this essence of His light. And understand that God “dwells in unapproachable light” according to Paul in 1 Timothy 6:16. Then I’m worried, because if I need the light of God to live, how can I if He is unapproachable? How can You be my light if I can’t approach You, God?
The answer is Jesus, the Son of God and son of man. The answer is the baby in Simeon’s arm today. Who can explain this? I can’t. But God and Jesus are One. Jesus said it Himself. It’s recorded in John 10:30. Therefore, if Jesus and God are One, then Jesus is the Light just as God is the Light. But Jesus is also Emmanuel, God with us! Jesus is also our redemption! Jesus is also our Lamb of God, slain, for our forgiveness, so that we could see the light of God and not be destroyed! He protects us from the full power of the light of God by covering us with His blood, with His righteousness, both Jew and Gentile.
God needs no source of light because He is light. Jesus needs no source of light because He is that same light. But I need light and so do you. We need no other source of light but God Himself and the only way for Him to be our light, is through Jesus, His Son. (Revelation 22:5)
Imagine what it would be like that day for Simeon to hold this truth in his arms, to see this reality coming to life! Imagine what it would be like to hold, momentarily, the unapproachable within your arms and live! Imagine what it is like to have the Unapproachable One invite you to life in His presence and make a way for you to live, a way that You would not be destroyed because of even the most minor of sins.
Our Father of lights, the One who is light and created all the lights of the heavens, is also love. (1 John 4:16) That’s what makes this so awesome. God is love and God is light for us and not only for us, but just because that’s who He is. It’s not something that happened in Him or something He became, but it’s His essence. The special thing is that God reveals Himself to us in these wonderful ways. The unapproachable God chooses to make Himself approachable to us. Is that not the craziest thing you ever heard?!
The unapproachable God chooses to make Himself approachable to us. Think about this here. Simeon, some old man, who had been seeking God for so long, and seeking the truth in His word, was waiting for the the foretold Messiah to come. He didn’t just want Messiah for himself. I know he didn’t because he knew that the Messiah was for the good of the Gentiles and the Jews. He didn’t know how. He didn’t know who. But He trusted and waited expectantly.
And God, You rewarded that faith. You showed him the consolation of Israel. You revealed Yourself to him in Jesus, the Christ. I don’t think that he would have been in that spot at that hour in the temple that day, at that time that Mary and Joseph walked in, had You not told him by Your Spirit. This is no coincidence. You were allowing this one glimpse before he was to die. Maybe, the Spirit inside of him lept for joy at the sight of Jesus, like the babe in Elizabeth. I wonder if there were tears in his eyes as he saw and reached for this babe, this babe who was more than a babe. Who could imagine taking the Savior of the world, the Light of the world, into their own arms? Did it amaze the shepherds? Did it amaze Mary and Joseph or had they begun to take him for granted? Does it amaze me?
How do I react when You have opened my eyes to see Your salvation in Jesus Christ? Do I remember that He is for the salvation of all people, not just me? He revealed You to me, a lowly Gentile. He reveals You to the Jew. He brings us into Your glory, alive and well! Do I even marvel at this? And if I do marvel, for how long? Will my marveling wane? Why? Because the Light never wanes. “…[T]he people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16) When did that stop being awesome news to my soul?
Again, Jesus speaks to us, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:5-9) Oh, my soul, don’t be unteachable and unreachable. “But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:13-17) Draw near to the Lord and He will draw near to you. He’ll even light the way.