Christ Our Light, Our Glory and Our Salvation
“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. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 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, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 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. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 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; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:25-35)
Here is an accurate description of every saved sinner. — “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” (v. 25). This is the only place in the Bible where Simeon’s name is mentioned. We know nothing about him, except what is revealed in these eleven verses. But this man is set before us in words which identify his character as one who had been saved by the free and sovereign grace of God. He was a just man, upright and honest in his dealings with men. He was devout, devoted to the worship, service, will and glory of God. He was waiting for the Christ, the consolation of Israel. “And the Holy Ghost was upon him.” All believers are people who live in and walk in the Spirit.
Here is a revealed fact. — “And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ” (v. 26). Without question, this refers to the fact that the Lord God had specifically and supernaturally revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen Christ with his own eyes. Here is a revealed fact. – Not one of God’s elect shall die until they have seen Christ with the eye of faith (2 Peter 3:9).
Here is a blessed Guide. — “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” (v. 27). When we come to the house of God, by the Spirit of God, we are sure to meet the Son of God there!
Here is a glorious Salvation. — “Then took he him up in his arms (by personal faith), and blessed (praised) God, and said, (in confident hope) 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. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him” (vv. 28-33).
Here is a Savior and a gospel despised by all men in every age, except those to whom he is revealed. — “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; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed”(vv. 34-35).
These verses of inspiration reveal four simple, but blessed, spiritual truths, gospel truths, which we ought to lay to heart.
1. God never leaves himself without a witness.
In the worst of places, in the darkest of times, the Lord God still has his seven thousand who have not and will not bow the knee to Baal. Most in every age wear the mark of the beast; but God’s elect will not and cannot, because their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life, by the pen of immutable grace, before the world began (Revelation 13:8).
The Church of God may be small in the midst of Babylon the great whore; but the gates of hell shall never prevail against it. God’s little flock may be driven into the wilderness; but the Good Shepherd still carries his Lambs in his bosom and feeds them by his grace. The woman is persecuted by the dragon of hell; but God providentially causes all the world to be her helper (Revelation 12). God never leaves himself without a witness. He always has a Lot in Sodom, an Obadiah in Ahab’s household, a Daniel in Babylon, a Jeremiah in Zedekiah’s court, a Simeon in Jerusalem and an elect remnant in an apostate age.
2. Those who have seen Christ have no reason to fear death.
Yes, it is possible to die without fear. The Lord Jesus Christ came here to deliver his own from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Many die in frustrated resignation, with a helpless, baseless hope of peace and release from misery. There appear to be “no bands in their death.” There are very few who die in confident peace; but every believer ought to die in peace (Roman 8:31-39; 2 Corinthians 5:1-9; Exodus 15:16-19). There is no deliverance from the fear of death except by looking to him whose death is the death of death; but those who trust Christ have no reason to be afraid of death. Our Lord Jesus has done many things to deliver us from this fear of death and the bondage that accompanies it.
He has destroyed the power of death by dying in our place and rising again. Since all of God’s elect were partakers of flesh and blood, under the dominion of death, Christ became a man to suffer and die for us. It was not possible for our Representative to satisfy the claims of Divine justice against us unless he lived and died in our nature. By his substitutionary death on the cursed tree and his triumphant resurrection, the Son of God destroyed the power of Satan and the power of the grave over us. We are now more than conquerors in him. Why then should we fear death?
The Lord Jesus delivers us from the fear of death by removing our sin. — “The sting of death is sin.” It is sin which causes men torment in death; but in Christ we have no sin. In him we are fully forgiven. By his blood our sins are washed away. If we are born of God, we are in Christ; “and in him is no sin” (1 John 3:1-5). Be sure you have the forgiveness of sin by faith in Christ, and fear death no more. To die forgiven, “accepted in the Beloved,” is not really to die at all. It is simply the departure out of this world into the Father’s house.
The law of God held us in bondage to the sentence of death and condemnation; but “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13). “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Romans 10:4). He is the end of the law’s power to condemn. In the book of God’s holy law there is no legal claim of condemnation upon any believer. Christ satisfied that claim for us. Why then should we fear? If I am in Christ, I am dead to the law (Romans 7:4; 8:1-4).
The Lord Jesus Christ delivers us from the fear of death by changing the character of death. For the unbeliever, death is a horrible thing. For the unbeliever, anything short of death is mercy. But, for the believer, death is a great blessing. John Trapp wrote…
“To those that are in Christ death is but the day-break of eternal brightness; not the punishment of sin, but the period of sin. It is but a sturdy porter opening the door of eternity, a rough passage to eternal pleasure.”
Why should Israel be afraid to cross the swelling Jordan into the land of promise with the ark of God before them? The fact is believers do not die in the sense that others do. Our Lord said, “Whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die.” To the ungodly, death is the penalty of sin; but to the believer, it is just a change of location. Death to the wicked is the execution of justice, but to the believer, it is a deliverance from sin. To the worldling, death is the beginning of sorrows, but to the believer, it is admission into glory. To the rebel, death is imprisonment, but to the believer, it is freedom.
3. Wherever true faith is found, there is gospel knowledge and spiritual understanding.
This man, Simeon, had a clear knowledge of the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is important. Blessed are those who are thus taught of God (Isaiah 54:11-14; John 6:45). Faith in Christ is not a leap in the dark. It is confidence based upon the revelation of God. It is the result of being taught of God. It is obvious Simeon knew that God has an elect people in every race, Jew and Gentile, who are the true Israel of God. He understood that all men and women by nature are engulfed in great spiritual darkness. But he also knew that the Lord Jesus Christ, the very baby he held in his arms, is the Light of the world and the glory of God, the glory of the Triune God, the revelation of the glory of God and the glory of his people (Jeremiah 9:23-24; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31). Simeon knew that the Lord Jesus Christ is himself God’s salvation. Salvation is not a system of doctrine, a religious creed, or a reformation of life. Salvation is a Person; and that Person is the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. Certain things always follow Christ and his gospel.
We are told in verses 34 and 35 that many will fall by him and many will be resurrected by him. To some, he is a stumbling stone and a rock of offense. To others, he is the sure Foundation, upon which we are built. “Unto you therefore which believe, he is precious.” And this is according to the will, purpose and design of God (Isaiah 8:14; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8; Jude 4). Yet, pain and persecution will be the lot of all who trust him and follow him. And this, too, is by the will of our God and heavenly Father (Philippians 1:29).
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