My eyes have seen your salvation Luke 2 22 to 35

Even before Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph knew who their son was and what he would accomplish. The angel Gabriel had appeared to Mary and said to her,
Luke 1 30 …. ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’ ….
35 ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Mary knew her son would not be any ordinary baby. He would be the Son of God, God born as a human being. He would be named Jesus, which literally means “God is salvation”. Jesus would be the promised descendant of great King David who would be the Saviour of Israel. Then, even before Jesus was born, inspired by God, Mary sang her famous song of praise to God.

Luke 1 46 Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
….50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants for ever, just as he promised our ancestors.’
So even before Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph knew that Jesus would be the Saviour who would fulfil all the promises God had made to Abraham and the Israelites and to David.
Then on the night Jesus was born, God confirmed all these things by sending angles to simple shepherds in the fields.
Luke 2 10 … the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’
The angels told the shepherds that Jesus was indeed the Saviour, the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for, the Lord who would bring peace on earth. It would be 30 years before Jesus began his earthly ministry. But it would only be six weeks before a select few others would recognise this baby to be the Saviour of the world. We read their story today.
Luke 2 22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord’,) 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons’.
Mary and Joseph followed the Jewish practice of the time to give thanks to God for their baby by offering sacrifices as the Old Testament had commanded. And it was while they were doing this the Temple in Jerusalem that something absolutely amazing happened.
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God,
Let’s think for a moment about this man SIMEON
Simeon was “righteous and devout”. For his time he was one of the most spiritual Jews. And he was waiting for “the consolation of Israel”, the time when God would save his chosen people. Unlike most who were expecting that salvation to come in the remote future, Simeon was confident that God was going to send the Saviour in his lifetime.
The Holy Spirit was upon Simeon. For Jews at that time, and especially in Luke’s Gospel, the Holy Spirit referred specifically to the Spirit who inspired the prophets in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit who inspires prophecy and brings revelations from God to God’s people. So Simeon was a prophet, and we read,
26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
Moved by the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit, Simeon went to the Temple at the exact time when Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were there. At the very moment he held the baby, the Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that Jesus was indeed the Messiah he was expecting. And the Holy Spirit inspired the prophetic words of praise which Simeon proclaims.
29 ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.’
Since the fourth century these wonderful words have been used in the worship of the church. They are known as the Nunc Demittis, from the first two words of the Latin version of the verses, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace”. Anglicans say these words together in their services every week. They were prophetic words, not only because the Spirit inspired Simeon to recognise who Jesus was, but also because they foretell Jesus’s ministry and Jesus’s death. Simeon’s words are in two parts. He begins with a wonderful prayer of praise, and then goes on to deliver prophecies about Jesus’s ministry.
29 ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
God had kept his promise – Simeon had seen his Saviour in a way which was even more wonderful than he could have hoped for! He had held the baby Jesus in his arms!
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 3 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

Simeon was a devout Jew and he knew his Old Testament Scriptures. And he recognized that Jesus would be the fulfilment of all God’s promises, but in particular of some promises found in the Book of Isaiah. God’s salvation will come “in the sight of all nations.”

Isaiah 52 9 Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.

Isaiah 40 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.”

God’ salvation would be “in the sight of all the nations”. It wouldn’t just be a private thing for the Jews. All mankind together to the ends of the earth will see the salvation God brings. And Simeon goes on to praise God for this salvation which will be

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.’

There is a background in the Old Testament to these words of Simeon. At that time the Jews had a variety of ideas about what form God’s salvation might take. But the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that God’s Saviour would come in fulfilment of some quite specific promises in the Book of Isaiah, the promises about a figure who is called the Servant of God.
Isaiah 49 5 And now the LORD says— he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honoured in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength—
6 he says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’
The first task of the Messiah will be to bring salvation to the Jews. To restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. But Simeon’s song of praise quotes Isaiah 49 to tell us that the salvation which the Messiah God’s Servant will bring is not only for the Jews. The Messiah will reveal God to the Gentiles, to all the people who are not Jews, as well. God’s salvation will be for everybody and reach to the ends of the earth. That same promise comes in another of the Songs of the Servant which we find in Isaiah 42. That song reveals that God’s servant will be anointed and chosen by God. He will be God’s delight. And he will be inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. And this will be his mission.
Isaiah 42 6 ‘I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
God’s servant will bring a New Covenant to God’s chosen people Israel. And he will bring light in the darkness, sight for the blind and freedom for those imprisoned in the darkness of sin. And all these blessings will not just be for the Jews, but for the Gentiles as well. So Simeon praises God. He has seen the Saviour God promised with his own eyes!
We read, 33 The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him.
Mary and Joseph weren’t surprised at what Simeon told them about Jesus – they knew those things already. What they were amazed at and marvelled at was that an old man they had never met before had just come up to them in the Temple and told them things only they and the angels and the shepherds could know. What a remarkable confirmation of the truth of the words of all the angels.
But then the Holy Spirit also reveals to Simeon what the future holds for the Messiah.
34 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, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
Simeon prophesies about Jesus’s ministry. Bringing salvation to the world would not be an easy road for God’s Messiah. His ministry would lead to judgment as well as salvation, as people would be revealed as they really were in their hearts. Jesus would cause falling and rising. He would bring sharp division. He would be “a sign that will be spoken against.” All these things would be fulfilled in Jesus’s ministry and in the opposition he faced. He was indeed a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. The eternal destinies of men and women would rest on whether they accept or reject Jesus as their Saviour.
And Simeon has a special message and a warning just for Jesus’s mother, Mary.
And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
In the happy days following the birth of a new baby, no mother wants to be told that his life would bring her sadness and pain. But here Simeon foretells the anguish Mary will experience 33 years later as she will watch her beloved son being crucified. Simeon knew that the Messiah would fulfil the prophecies of God’s Servant in Isaiah and that it was the destiny of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 to take upon himself the sins of the world.
Isaiah 53 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Jesus was indeed God’s Messiah. But Simeon knew and he told Mary the terrible price which would have to be paid to bring light and salvation into the world which was trapped in darkness.
The impression we get is that Simeon was an old man. He probably did not live to see the ministry of Jesus 30 years later. But Simeon was the first follower of Jesus. Simeon recognised that Mary’s baby was the Messiah that God had promised. The one who would bring salvation not only the Jews but to the ends of the earth. And that is the starting point for becoming a disciple. Recognising that Jesus the Son of God is our Saviour. That is where each of us need to begin. Acknowledging that Jesus is my Saviour.
29 ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.’

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