“Simeon took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of Your people Israel!’ Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, ‘This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but He will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose Him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.’” Luke 2:28-35 (NLT)
Simeon’s song is the fifth and final song in the Christmas story. It’s been called Nunc Dimittis meaning, “Now depart in peace.” Not only had God revealed to Simeon that he would not die until He had seen Christ, but He gave Simeon spiritual insight into the destiny of this child that marveled both Mary and Joseph! I’ve often wondered if Simeon’s words echoed in the heart of Mary as she wept at the cross. Little did she understand then, at His birth, how painfully the sword would pierce her heart in the years to come!
How did Simeon have such spiritual insight? He wasn’t a prophet or a priest. Luke tells us in verse 25 that he was a righteous and devout man. One translation says, “… a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him.” (MSG) That is the key to spiritual insight. If we are to understand the will and purposes of God, we must be people of prayer filled with the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:10-12 tells us,
“The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.”
As Simeon prayed in faith believing God to send deliverance for Israel, the Holy Spirit began to reveal the plan and purposes of God in the Savior who was to come. Simeon’s prophecy about Jesus was uncanny! As Mary and Joseph watched Jesus grow up, how often must they have reflected on what Simeon told them? He would cause the falling and rising of many in Israel. He would be a sign that would be spoken against. The thoughts of many hearts would be revealed by Jesus. As you read the Gospels, you find every one of these predictions fulfilled in the ministry of Christ. Just as the Holy Spirit came upon Simeon, so He lives in the hearts of every true follower of Christ. In addition, we have God’s Word revealed to us in the Bible. Only through prayer may we hear what He has to reveal to us in His Word today.
Simeon’s song of salvation and hope teaches us that the reward is worth the wait. We’re never really prepared to die until we have experienced salvation that Jesus came to offer us. That’s the real message of Christmas. Jesus came to save us from our sins!