“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; [30} for my eyes have seen your salvation  that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,  a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (ESV) Luke 2:29–32
This Bible passage is one of the most familiar to longtime members of Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod congregations. If you’re trying to put your finger on why it’s familiar think of the “Nunc Dimittis” in a number of our liturgies.
The words were spoken by a man named Simeon when Jesus was presented at the Temple in Jerusalem. I find it striking and moving how God inspired Simeon to reveal Jesus came for all peoples, both Gentiles and Israel.
You have wonder about Simeon referencing Gentiles, people who would never be allowed in the Temple. Keep in mind that there were hard lines dividing Jews from Gentiles. In Acts chapter 10 the Apostle Peter reminds Gentiles that was unlawful for him to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation. In Acts chapter 21 Jews from Asia brought trumped up charges against the Apostle Paul. One false charge was that Paul had brought Greeks into the Temple, thus defiling the Holy Place.
Yet nothing is recorded about any negative reaction to Simeon refencing the Gentiles. Maybe this is because Simeon was speaking the truth. Through the prophets, God had already revealed the Messiah would come for both Jews and Gentiles. For example, this truth is stated in Isaiah 11:10, 42:1 and 49:6. Or maybe there was no reaction because Simeon was speaking under the power of the Holy Spirit.
What matters is that Jesus was sent for all peoples, including those today we are lost without faith in the Messiah.
(This devotion was written for the congregations of the Ohio District – LCMS.)