Luke 2:25-35; John 12:23-26
We are introduced to Simeon in the opening verse before us. He is described as just and devout. The Greek word which is translated as “just” is dikaios. Dikaios appears 81 times in the New Testament. On 41 occasions, including Romans 3:10, it is translated as “righteous.” Romans 3:10 declares “There is none righteous, no, not one.”
Simeon is described as just because his belief, like Abraham’s belief, was counted to him for righteousness. What did Simeon believe? Simeon believed that which is written in the scriptures. Simeon believed that God save would Israel. Simeon waited for the consolation of Israel.
Hebrews 11:6 states that God is a rewarder of those who believe that He is and diligently seek Him. The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the Christ. God rewarded Simeon. “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4). Simeon delighted in the Lord and the Lord gave him the desires of his heart.
Simeon came by the Spirit into the temple. The Lord is not constrained by time. The Lord chose the time that Simeon should look upon the Christ. Many would behold the Christ thirty years after He was revealed to Simeon. The Lord chose to reveal Jesus to Simeon at this time — the time at which Joseph and Mary presented the infant Jesus to the Lord. Joseph and Mary offered the sacrifice required by the law of Moses (see Lev. 12:2-8).
The scripture before us does not state the reason why the Lord chose this time. That said, what follows in verses 28-32 would not have transpired had the Lord chosen a different time to reveal the Christ to Simeon. The words of Simeon are preserved as scripture for God’s purposes. Let us listen to the words that the Lord would have us to hear.
Simeon said, “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all the people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (v. 30-32). Simeon, speaking to Joseph and Mary, described the baby Jesus as the salvation which the Lord HAS prepared.
Simeon saw that which the Holy Spirit revealed to him. He saw the salvation which the Lord God had prepared for all people. In the baby that he took in his arms and lifted up, he saw a light to the Gentiles and the glory to “thy people Israel.” That which Simeon saw was future. Simeon saw two different things. The baby that he beheld became a light to the Gentiles. The New Testament church testifies of that light. The light to the Gentiles has been burning from the first century A.D. until now and is the light which guides the walk of all who believe.
Simeon also saw the glory of God’s chosen people Israel. The baby that Simeon held in his arms has yet to become the glory of Israel. The Lord Jesus will not be seen as the glory of Israel until the appointed time. That time has been revealed to New Testament believers. We know that Jesus shall reign from the throne of David in Jerusalem after the seven year tribulation set forth to John in the Book of Revelation. We know that Jesus shall not be seen as the glory of Israel until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled (see Luke 21).
Simeon is not the first to declare that the promised Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles. The prophet Isaiah declared that “mine elect” would bring justice to the Gentiles (Isa. 42:1) and be a light to the Gentiles (Isa. 42:6, 49:6). Simeon saw the salvation which the Lord God has given for all people. Simeon saw “my righteous servant” who would bear “the sin of many” and make intercession for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:11-12).
The fullness of that which was revealed to Simeon is seen in the closing verses before us. “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against” (v. 35). The child would be a sign — the stone which the builders refused (Ps. 118:22; Lk. 20:17-18). The fullness of that which was revealed to Simeon is made known to believers by the Comforter who teaches us all things (Jn. 14:26). New and Old Testament scriptures alike declare that Jesus is the One of whom the prophets spoke.
Jesus came into the world such that men might have victory over death. Believers read John 12:23-26 and hear the words of Him who died that we might live. Jesus is the kernel of wheat which died such that much fruit should come forth. He said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor” (v. 26). Let us do as He has said.