Light of the World: Day Eleven
A Generous Gift: Light for the Gentiles
Read Luke 2:22-33
A few years ago we were able to surprise our oldest daughter with really great tickets to see her favorite Broadway show (that she had been dying to see for several years) at the historic Pantages Theater in Hollywood for her birthday. I will never forget the look of sheer joy and excitement on her face when she opened the tickets and realized what a special gift she had been given. But perhaps the sweetest moment of all was when she jumped with glee as she realized there were not only 2 tickets in the envelope (one for me and one for her) but there were 3; an additional ticket for her sister to join us. Her gratitude was overflowing as she realized the full extent of the generosity of the giver (her Daddy).
In Luke 2, after Jesus' birth, Mary and Joseph go to the temple to complete two important ceremonies: the purification of the mother post-delivery and the consecration of the first-born (Exodus 13:2, Numbers 18:15). Here, they encounter Simeon who was led by God to the temple and to whom God immediately reveals Jesus as the Messiah.
What Simeon says concerning Jesus is truly remarkable as he identifies Jesus as being the culmination of the prophecies we have looked at over the 10 days. First, Simeon alludes to several of Isaiah’s prophesies when he declares that this baby is the Messiah and, “a light of revelation for the Gentiles.”
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I
will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are
blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
He says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and
to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation
may reach to the end of the earth.”
Throughout the Old Testament, we see glimpses of God’s plan to extend his offer of salvation to Gentiles (non-Jewish people). Here in Luke 2:33, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, Simeon recognizes this and attributes the light of the Messiah as being not only for the Israelites but also for everyone in the entire world (Luke 2:332a). This is truly incredible that in God’s compassion, mercy, and grace, his offer of salvation is extended to all people everywhere. Not only this, but the Gentiles being included in the benefits of the Messiah are not to Israel’s detriment, but to her glory (Luke 2:32b).
Secondarily, this is the realization of God’s promise to Abraham that, “through you all the families of the world will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Through the line of Abraham, God brought about the Messiah who is not just the Savior of Israel, but the Savior of the world. The generosity of God is incredible and is a reason for great rejoicing!
Every Christmas morning before we begin opening presents, we sit as a family together under the tree and my husband reads Luke chapter 2. He then reminds our kids that the reason we give gifts to one another at Christmas is because we are seeking to mimic God, who gave us the greatest gift of all by sending Jesus to be our light and our Savior. God's generosity should cause us to be overwhelmingly and exceedingly grateful. When writing about the grace and generosity that God extended to people through Jesus Christ, Paul exclaims:
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15
Action Point: As you spend time throughout the next 10 days shopping for gifts and wrapping gifts, use that time to express your thanks to God for the indescribable gift of sending Jesus to be the light for those who walked in darkness.