We come to our second to last person whom we are going to look at during our short study in people’s responses to the incarnation of Jesus. Today we will see a response of a man who I believe understood the promises of the Old Testament in a way that many people have missed. His name is Simeon; Luke begins this section telling us about a man in Jerusalem. We find out four things about him. Righteous, devout, waiting and the Holy spirit was upon him. Luke had introduced Zechariah and Elizabeth as righteous (Luke 1:6), we would assume this has the same meaning here for Simeon, that he walked blamelessly in all the commandments of the Lord. Secondly, he was devote, meaning he was God fearing. Thirdly he was waiting, I think this is an overlooked aspect of the period of time of Christ’s coming. We think of the fullness of time merely in a matter of timeline in history, but up to this point in our study we see that many people have had a holy expectation of God fulfilling his promises. That God is the God of redemption and salvation. Lastly, the Holy Spirit was with this man, Simeon. If ever you doubted the work of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament times I think you should turn to the beginning of Luke, because although located in the New Testament you see the Holy Spirit working in God’s people, granted there is a huge shift after the ascension of the Lord. And we see that the Holy Spirit was working in the lives of the believers, that Simeon knew that he would see the Christ come before he died. The Spirit was moving that day when Simeon see’s Joseph and Mary with little baby Jesus in their arms. Simeon takes Jesus into his arms and blesses God.
Salvation that is seen with eyes
Simeon holds the promises of God in one small child. An infant in his arms, is the fullness of God, which God is pleased to dwell. The promises of God made from moment of the fall, is now flesh and bones. The Son of God, veiled flesh. The Son of God, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). Likeness of a weak, and helpless child. Simeon is now a happy man, he has check off this one item on his bucket list. He is now willing to depart in peace according to the promise given to him by the Holy Spirit. What was seen by faith by all of the men and women of the Old Testament was now a reality in Simeon’s arms.
, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 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.”” (Luke 2:25–32, ESV)
Salvation that is shared to the world
Simeon speaks of the impact that this child who brings this salvation would have on the world. That this small child about 40 days old at this point will known by people across the whole earth. To all peoples. A light of revelation to the Gentiles. Not only to the nation of Israel but Simeon understood that the promises made to his fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were made to bless the whole world and not just those who share their physical DNA. All Gospel’s trace this truth, but I think you get one of the greatest pictures of this in the Gospel of Luke and his second chapter found in the book of Acts. That God’s good news was to be shared with people from different tribes nations and tongues. That this small child would make the greatest impact on the world. Even if you are not a Christian, you must admit that Jesus Christ is one of the most influential people who has ever walked the earth. Jesus would say later in his life, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). Jesus would be the savior of the world not just a small nation. He would be the one to stand in the gap for his chosen priesthood and royal nation. He would be the one to be the light in the darkness. A old Latin poem (8th C.) translated in 1851 by J.M. Neale, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, says;
“O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light.”
Paul and Barnabas understood this as they went to be preachers to nations.
“And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region” (Acts 13:46–49).
Salvation that is for the splendor of God’s people
Simeon still understands the means in which God brought about this salvation for the world. That he did choose Israel as a nation to be the one to bring this light into this dark world. The story of the nation of Israel is that they throughout their life were never really a superpower unto themselves. They were often small, oppressed, and looked down upon, yet God used them to bring about his glorious, good news of salvation to his people in the four corners of the world. That this shows God’s strength to make a nobody, Abram to a someone body. Again, this of the impact of this calling when God called Abraham from the land of Ur. The story of the Bible of God taking his enemies and making them his people, his family. This plan comes through this person, Jesus Christ, the baby in his arms. The promise is that through Abraham all nations would be blessed (Gen 12:3). The everlasting covenant that comes through Isaac (Gen 17:19). The lamb which God would provide instead of Isaac (Gen 22:8). See how God explains why he choose Israel to be the nation that his promised messiah comes from.
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:6–8).
Salvation that is secured by the pierced side
Now, Simeon has one more thing to say, and this is specifically addressed to Mary. Now, again, Mary did know. These are not merely just passing comments we are told that Mary treasured these things up in her heart (Luke 2:19). Simeon blesses Joseph and Mary, but we have recorded the specific words Simeon spoke to Mary,
“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34–35)
We celebrate the incarnation; however, we cannot separate the birth of Jesus from the death of Jesus. He came to earth not only to be born as a baby, to be born under the law, but to take the punishment of the law for his people. Christ came to die. Born and laid in a manger so that he would die on a cross and be laid in a tomb. Many people in the New Testament miss the important aspect of the Old Testament that the promised Messiah would come to suffer. However, Simeon clearly speaks of the suffering servant who was going to die so that God’s people would live.
1 What child is this who, laid to rest,
on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
while shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
haste, haste to bring him laud,
the babe, the son of Mary.
2 Why lies he in such mean estate,
where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear; for sinners here
the silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear, shall pierce him through;
the cross be borne for me, for you:
hail, hail the Word made flesh,
the babe, the son of Mary.
3 So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh;
come, peasant, king, to own him;
the King of kings salvation brings,
let loving hearts enthrone him.
Raise, raise the song on high,
the virgin sings her lullaby:
joy, joy for Christ is born,
the babe, the son of Mary.