I have long since lost count of the number of times I have said “Jesus changes everything”. I’ve said it in sermons, assemblies, small groups, to visiting brownie packs, over coffee in the church cafe, and on this blog. And it’s true. But today’s reflection on the prophecy of Simeon and Anna in the temple reminds us that it both is and is not that straightforward.
Anna’s response, praising God and telling others that the Messiah is here, is the straightforward part. But what of Simeon’s prophecy, with talk of rising and falling, opposition, and a sword that pierces the heart? Perhaps it seems to put a bit of a damper on the rejoicing at Jesus’ coming. But actually, what Simeon says takes in the deeper, more complicated truth of what Jesus has come to do.
Because salvation both is and isn’t straightforward. Jesus comes to save us – that much is clear. But the arrival of the infant Jesus in the temple does not immediately make everything OK. Perhaps that’s what the people who had watched and waited in the temple for the Messiah with SImeon and Anna were expecting. But how could a tiny baby make everything OK for all these people? Simeon is onto something important when he speaks of pain and trouble to come. The presentation of Christ in the temple is more like a promise. Jesus has come to save us. But he will also be with us through times of trouble and pain and uncertainty, holding out the promise that this is not all there is. More is to come. Better is to come. Salvation is promised. All shall be well.