And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. (26) And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (27) And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, (28) Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, (29) Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: (30) For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, (31) Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; (32) A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (33) And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. (34) And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (35) (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Luke 2:25-35
Simeon himself was waiting on the “consolation of Israel” (v. 25). All Old Testament saints similarly waited for Christ. Throughout the Old Testament there is a sense of anticipation.
- Eve waited for the coming of Christ. When her first son was born, she said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord” (Genesis 4:1). She may have thought that Cain was the answer to God’s promise to give the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent. Cain the sinner, of course, was far from being Christ the Savior! Yet, you can see the expectation already for the One who would undo the effects of sin in this world.
- Abraham, who took his only son Isaac to offer for a burnt offering, expected the Messiah and expressed his faith by saying to Isaac on their way to Mount Moriah, “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb” (Genesis 22:8).
- Jacob expected the coming of Jesus for he said on his deathbed to his son Judah “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Genesis 49:10).
- Moses spoke of the coming deliverer and said, “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me: him shall ye hear” (Deuteronomy 18:15).
- David celebrated Christ in his Psalms as the King to whom all kings bow (Psalm 2).
- Isaiah the prophet spoke of the manner of the birth of the Messiah when he said, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Micah and Malachi all looked ahead to the coming of Christ. They were all waiting for the “Consolation of Israel.” Simeon stands together with all of them in a long line of Old Testament saints. He is a bridge between the two testaments. Tradition says that he was over 100 years old at this time. He is waiting. So many promises had been given through the prophets. Simeon himself had received a personal message from the Lord that he would not die until he saw the Messiah (v. 26).
Most in Israel had given up by the time of Simeon. Four hundred years had passed since Israel had received its last prophetic word from God. The people had grown tired of waiting. Simeon was one of the few left who was still waiting. Perhaps he remembered the Word of the Lord to His prophet Habakkuk in Habakkuk 2:2-4,
Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.
Simeon sees Salvation!
When Simeon sees the baby Jesus, he sees Salvation. To see Christmas through the eyes of Simeon is to see salvation (v. 30). A salvation that includes both Jews and Gentiles. This was not anything new to those who knew the Old Testament because, although the Jews were especially blessed by God, their blessing is referred to many times as the means to show God’s glory to the nations. Some of the greatest prophetic material concerning the Messiah are the “Servant Songs” of the book of Isaiah. In one of these, the prophet Isaiah records a conversation between God and His “Servant,” Christ. Look at Isaiah 49:6,
Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’
Simeon realizes that this salvation is “prepared” (v. 31). It is part of the plan of God from all eternity. Salvation is part of God’s eternal purpose.
Amazingly, Simeon didn’t have to see the public ministry of Jesus, or His miracles, or His death and resurrection. Seeing the baby Jesus, he had seen enough. He had witnessed the “Consolation of Israel.” He had seen God’s “salvation.” He had seen the “light to the Gentiles” and the “glory of Israel.” Simeon says, “I can die now” (v. 29).
Simeon not only sees salvation, he also sees suffering! The cross casts a shadow over the manger in Bethlehem. It’s impossible to truly celebrate Christmas without remembering the cross. That’s the reason He came. Jesus was born to die!
Years later as Mary stood at the foot of the cross as a Roman soldier pierced the side of her firstborn son, she probably remembered the words of Simeon, “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also.” When Simeon saw the baby Jesus, he foresaw suffering.
This baby whose birth the prophets had foretold and whose birth was announced by angels became a man and died on an old, rugged cross. He is God’s salvation. All who have seen Him with the eye of faith may say along with Simeon,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. Luke 2:29-32