25Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
We left the young family at the temple; as we pick up there, Mary and Joseph are walking through the temple courts holding the baby Jesus, a little over a month old. The other character in this part of the story is a very old man named Simeon. He had been righteous and devout for many years, and knew the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life. (Jesus made the Spirit available to us all, but before the crucifixion only certain people, prophets, knew his presence. Simeon was one of these.) The Spirit had revealed to him that he would see the Christ, the Messiah, before his death. On that particular morning Simeon felt a sudden urge to be in the temple. He rose and dressed quickly and ran to the temple. And as he entered the temple courts, there was a young family – with a baby. He knew at once, this was the ONE he had been waiting for! This was the Christ! (You remember, of course, that both Messiah and Christ mean “Anointed One of God”.) And Simeon took the child in his arms, and he sang –
Simeon sang his praise to God for having allowed him to see the one who would bring salvation – and then Simeon introduces a new idea in Luke – this child would be a light for revelation to the Gentiles! Jesus was not just for the Jews! He was for the Gentiles as well, for all the world! The child’s father and mother were amazed! Imagine, they are walking through the temple courts, doing what new parents had done for ages, when suddenly this man walks up to them, takes the baby, and begins to prophecy, singing praises to God for this child, saying that he will be the salvation of humankind!
And then the prophet turns to them, and blesses them, but he has a further word for Mary. Many would rise and fall because of her Son, and he would be to Israel a sign to be opposed. He would reveal the inner thoughts, the hearts, of many. But for Mary, she would see heartbreak, as if the sword were piercing her own soul.
This, I think, must have been another of those moments that Mary treasured in her heart.