Day 22: Monday

Monday: Read

the Scripture Passage of Simeon’s song slowly (Luke 2:29-32). Listen with the “ear of your heart.” What phrase, sentence or even one word stands out to you? Allow that phrase or word to settle deeply in your heart. Let an attitude of quiet receptiveness permeate your prayer time.

 

800px-Folio_63r_-_The_Presentation_in_the_Temple
The Nunc Dimittis from Les Tres Riches Heures de Duc de Berry

 

  • What Phrase or Word stands to you?

 

As we explore the themes from Simeon’s song, we will first examine two interrelated themes in the Nunc Dimittis: sight “My eyes have seen”), and the light of revelation. In Simeon’s hymn, he “sees” God’s salvation both with his physical eyes (he holds the Christ Child) and with spiritual eyes (he understands the theological implications of Christ’s salvation). Christ’s salvation also gives light to

spiritual understanding, as Simeon notes in calling salvation “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.”

 

Describing spiritual understanding in terms of sight, light, and revelation is a theme that Luke carries through his gospel, as we saw in the Gloria when Jesus weeps over the Jerusalem inhabitants’ lack of spiritual “sight” (Luke 19:42), and in the story of the men on the road to Emmaus who do not truly “see” Christ until he is revealed to them in the breaking of sacramental bread (Luke 24:31). Luke develops this theme again in Acts 9, when Saul loses his physical sight so that his spiritual sight might be made clear:

 

“On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. 9  For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:3-9)

 

In this passage, Luke brings together the three elements of light, sight, and revelation to comment on Saul’s receiving of spiritual understanding. Surrounding the revelation of Jesus’ identity (“I am Jesus who you are persecuting”) is a “light from heaven,” and Saul’s loss of physical sight is indicative of his loss of spiritual sight. Later in the chapter, Ananias, the man sent to lay hands on Saul, reveals to him why he is subsequently healed from his temporary blindness: “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). In this verse Luke connects the receiving of sight with the receiving of the Holy Spirit, pointing to the greater “sight” or wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s revelation. Following Ananias’ words, “Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized.” (Acts 9:18). In this sentence, Luke connects spiritual sight with baptism into the Christian faith.

 

“The spiritual significance of a Jewish rabbi’s being physically blinded by the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ is not lost on Saul or Luke (2 Cor 4:4-6). Major themes in Luke-Acts are God’s final salvation as a recovery of sight to the blind and as a light to the nations (Is 40:5/Lk 3:6; Is 61:1-2/Lk 4:18-19; Is 42:6/Lk 2:30-32; Is 49:6/Acts 13:47; compare 26:23; Lk 7:21-22; 18:35-43–last miracle before the cross; 14:21; Acts 26:18-23). The Jews, especially the rabbis, used the image “guide to the blind” to describe their God-given role among the Gentiles (Rom 2:19). As Saul meditates on the light during those three days of darkness, then, the greatness of the divinely promised final salvation available only in the last person he saw must become more and more clear and precious (Acts 26:18).

 

What is Saul to make of his blindness? It is not a punishment, nor an indication of divine disfavor, nor simply a concrete proof of the vision. An acted parable, it shows Saul the spiritual bankruptcy of his pre-Christian condition. The hostility to Christianity of pre-Christian Saul presents both challenge and hope to any non-Christian. The hope is that if God can turn the fiercest opponent of the Lord into his most willing servant, he has the ability to save anyone. The challenge is not to be deceived by self-satisfaction. Saul was quite content with his life spiritually. But God’s sovereign grace arrested him.” (Paraphrased from IVP New Testament Commentary)

 

 

  • How is the gift of sight a kind of baptism? Reflect on your own walk with Christ. How does the light he casts on your heart offer you new life?
  • Why is life without this light of heaven, this sight, a form of bankruptcy? Are there areas of your own life that are still bound in this bankrupt state?
  • In what ways is Jesus suggesting your eyes be opened? Are you deceived by self-satisfaction with your spiritual state? How might God’s sovereign grace be arresting you?
  • How does this light to the blind offer hope for the life of the world? How might it strengthen your own faith in God’s ability to change the hearts of even his “fiercest opponents”?

 

Prayer:

Pray Simeon’s hymn to God as if it were your own prayer, asking God to grant you the grace of the sight that brings new life.