“When the parents brought the child Jesus to the temple they were met by Simeon who took the child in his arms and praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’ The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ from Luke chapter 2
“Simeon had an assurance that he was going home to his Father in heaven and that he would know an abundant entrance into that Kingdom. This Father-God had made a promise to Simeon that before he died he would see the Messiah, and God had kept his word. “I can die in peace,” he was saying, “because your promise has been fulfilled in me.”
Everybody’s going to depart this life one day, in one form or another, but only some will depart this life in peace. That was Simeon’s hope because God would surely fulfil his word; “Lord, I can depart this life in peace. You can take me home, because your word has come to pass – I have seen salvation in Jesus the Messiah.” He puts it like this: “Now you dismiss your servant in peace.”
The Lord hasn’t come to any one of us in a dream and told us we are going to see the Messiah coming, but he has given me such words as these, that he is going to work all things together for our good, that he will never leave us nor forsake us, that he will supply all our needs from his riches in glory in Christ Jesus, that we shall be more than conqueror through his love, and so on, many such exceeding great and precious promises. He’s given every Christian his word, and he’s saying ‘Test me and find me faithful.’
The peace that Simeon speaks of doesn’t depend on a special gift of prophecy. It comes from God’s word of promise which Simeon had believed. He saw Christ with his own eyes, and, men and women, you also will one day – if you are trusting in Christ – see this promise fulfilled with your own eyes. When we see him we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is. That is the promise, and this one also of peace in departing this life, grace to die with. Those who trust in God will depart this life in peace. J.C. Ryle says about Simeon, “He speaks like one for whom the grave has lost its terrors, and the world its charms.”
Simeon did not fear death. He did not fear the grave. He was not in love with the world so that he had to be wrenched away from it. He was ready to go home in peace, because he believed the word of God. Men and women, you can be ready to go home in peace, not in resignation, not because you’re tired and you just can’t go on anymore, but you can be ready to go home in peace if you will believe the word of God.
Simeon takes the baby from Mary and he says, “Lord, I have seen your salvation.” He says that having seen this particular baby. He had seen hundreds of other babies brought to the Temple but he never said those words when he had seen them. Salvation was going to be in this little boy alone. The jots and tittles of the law are not going to save sinners; self-help schemes for human betterment are not going to do it, but one who was once a baby, born of a woman, is going to save the cosmos. Then salvation must be by grace!
Salvation is in this Christ. It’s in Jesus. Jesus is salvation. Salvation is in him. Look unto him and be saved all the ends of the earth. All those who are in him by faith, united to him by the work of the Holy Spirit, have the fullness of salvation. There is no salvation outside of him. To see him with the eyes of faith is to see salvation. That’s the origin of Simeon’s peace: the salvation of God that has been provided in Jesus Christ, and Simeon can call Jesus ‘salvation’, and he can call salvation ‘Jesus’. “Lord, I’ve seen salvation because I’ve seen Jesus.” His eyes of faith showed him that though he was holding Jesus, it was actually Jesus by grace who had Simeon and the whole world in his little hands.
What a tragedy, to know of Jesus’ great signs, and hear his profound teaching and yet to distrust him, to set your own judgment about him above his judgment of you. In other words, if your faith is only and always in him, then he has been appointed for your rising, up and up, from death and the grave, to heaven itself to share in his glory forever. But if you don’t trust Jesus today, who knows whether he has been appointed for your falling, down and down into the bottomless pit further and further away from God into darkness and anguish for ever. The only way that he will arise as the Son of Righteousness for you is if you trust in him alone for salvation as he is offered in the gospel.”
Extracts from sermon 14th October 2007 GEOFF THOMAS Aberystwyth