Today marks the end of one year and with tomorrow, the commencement of a new one. As one era is ending, another is opening up. For many, they will have a sense of expectancy or anticipation about what the coming year may bring.
One man who stood between two eras was the elderly priest Simeon. He is described as righteous and devout, an exemplary figure of piety in whom the Holy Spirit is at work (Lk 2:25-26). He recognises the infant Jesus as the ‘consolation of Israel’ when he is brought by his parents to the temple to be consecrated to God (Luke 2:25). His aging eyes could look back on the periods of Israelite history when God’s acts of salvation had occurred, but he had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he saw the Lord’s Messiah – the beginning of a new era (Luke 2:26).
Holding the infant Jesus in his arms, Simeon stands on the threshold between two eras. In the past lies the promise which has prepared Israel for this event. Now the future beckons and the fulfilment of that promise with the arrival of Jesus in the temple. Simeon’s eyes see not just an infant, but in this infant, the very means by which God will bring his salvation. However – and here is the tremendous thing – this salvation will be a light for the nations, the Gentiles, not just for Israel (Luke 2:31-32). The salvation brought through Jesus will enable the Gentiles to be brought into God’s purpose and plan which began with Israel. This is what is sometimes termed, the ‘universality’ of salvation. Jesus is not just for the few, or ethnic Israel, but for all people from all the nations – including those in Blackburn Sth.