What joy must have flooded his heart when, led by the Spirit, he took Jesus in his arms, blessed God, and began to sing, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word” (Luke 2:29). The sun had risen at last. The long dark night was over. And now he could go to his rest, for “my eyes have seen your salvation” (v. 30).
Notice that the baby Simeon held would not simply bring salvation. He is salvation. Seeing the infant Jesus was to see the Lord’s salvation. He is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (2:32). He does not merely give light and bestow glory. He is the light and the glory of Gentile and Jew alike. What we get in the gospel is not some abstraction, some list of benefits and blessings—forgiveness, adoption, sanctification, and the like—doled out in a cold transaction. What we get in the gospel is Christ Himself, and in Him, all we need. He has become for us “wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). The gospel is not coldly transactional but gloriously personal. Jesus Himself is the Lord’s salvation, our light and our glory.
And notice too the scope of the salvation available in Christ. Jesus was prepared, Simeon sings, “in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:31–32, emphasis added). Salvation is for all, available to all, in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have good news for every person—this tiny helpless infant, so vulnerable, so weak, is God’s magnificent provision for the redemption of the world.
What should our response be to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ? An answer comes when we mark carefully the order of Simeon’s song. He embraced his own departure in peace only because he had first seen the Lord’s salvation. It was only because he held in his embrace the Lord’s Christ that he welcomed the embrace of life’s earthly end. In his arms, the Resurrection and the Life slept contentedly, and so death held no terror, and the end of life’s long wait drew near with grateful anticipation rather than grim regret. Jesus was born that “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Heb. 2:14–15). He came to turn death into a doorway to rest for all who believe. There really is no way to face eternity, until, like Simeon, our eyes have seen the Lord’s Salvation. The pressing question we must ask ourselves then, as we celebrate Jesus’ birth, is this: Have I embraced the Lord’s Christ? After all, there is abundant room in Him even for me.
This post was first published on Dec. 25, 2017