Simeon and Mary, Joseph, and Jesus met by providential leadership in the temple. Luke properly used the word heiron, the outer courts of the temple, instead of using naos, the sanctuary. They probably were in the court of the women. The temple was a huge complex, so Simeon could have easily missed them even though they were there at the same time. But God caused their paths to cross.
Simeon recognized that the baby was the One whom God had promised that he would see. Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God. These words paint a beautiful picture—Simeon holding in his arms the baby Jesus and praising God for His coming. The words of praise in verses 29–32 are sometimes referred to as Simeon’s song. In form it is like the song of Mary in 1:46–55 and the song of Zechariah in 1:67–79.
Simeon said, Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. Depart translates a word that may have several meanings: “set free,” “release,” “pardon,” “let go,” or “dismiss.” Perhaps Simeon was saying, “Now I can die in peace” (CEV). Many Bible students understand this to be his meaning. This provides a basis for assuming that Simeon was an old man. But the word can be used to mean be discharged from a task or vigil. Simeon’s mission was to recognize and acclaim the Messiah, and that was what he was doing. In either case, he was saying that God had kept His promise (according to thy word). Simeon had been looking for the Messiah, and now that hope had been fulfilled. Peace refers to the comfort of knowing the Messiah had come. Simeon was somewhat like Paul, who near the end of his life said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7, HCSB). Simeon was not like Elijah, who said in a weak moment, “I have had enough! LORD, take my life” (1 Kings 19:4, HCSB). He had no death wish. He was simply saying that the goal of his life was fulfilled and he was ready to go. Although the Bible does not explicitly say that Simeon was an old man, the implication is that he was.
When Simeon saw Jesus, he saw God’s salvation, and he said, Mine eyes have seen thy salvation. This salvation was prepared before the face of all people. God’s Messiah would be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of God’s people Israel. The angel had announced to the shepherds the “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (v. 10). Now Simeon reinforced and made more explicit that this included the Gentiles. One strong theme of Luke and Acts is the intention of God to offer salvation to Gentiles as well as Jews.
Some key words reflect Simeon’s experience as a model for others: reveal, recognize, receive, redeem, and rejoice. When God’s Spirit revealed to him that the baby in Mary’s arms was the Messiah, Simeon recognized the Savior. He then received Jesus for who He is. Having received Jesus as Savior, he was redeemed. Then Simeon rejoiced in Him. God reveals Jesus as the Savior today. Some recognize Him, and some of them receive Him while others reject Him. He redeems those who receive Him. This leads them to rejoice in the Lord.
What are the lasting truths in Luke 2:25–32?
Believers should be righteous, dedicated, and expectant.
- All Christians are to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
- Encountering Jesus always marks a decisive point in a person’s life.
- Believers are to trust God to keep His promises.
- We should thank Him when He keeps His promise.
- As believers, we should recognize God’s providential hand in our lives.
- We are to tell the good news to all people.