Have you ever been forced to celebrate Christmas late? Maybe it was due to a sickness or perhaps you had to travel and couldn’t celebrate until a few days after Christmas? There is a man named Simeon who once celebrated Christmas 40 days late (Luke 2:22-32)! He had been promised by God that he would not see death until he saw the Christ of God.
In Jewish culture, when a woman would give birth she would be considered unclean for a period of 40 days. She would not be able to enter the temple for worship. It was 40 days after Jesus’ birth that Mary and Joseph entered the temple for the purification process with baby Jesus – and when they arrived, Simeon was standing in the temple. As they entered – it was made known to this old man that the baby in Mary’ s arms was indeed the Christ of God. God had kept His promise and Simeon praised God and in his prayer of praise we hear some important truths about Jesus.
1. Simeon called Jesus – “Salvation.”
Rather than calling the baby Jesus, the name God instructed Joseph through an angel (Matthew 1:21), Simeon calls Jesus “salvation.” What a fitting title for Jesus. As we see this announcement coming from the lips of this old man, we must immediately see our need for salvation. Just as the angel announced Jesus as the “savior” in the fields to the shepherds at His birth, this old man calls baby Jesus – “salvation.” The point is clear! Jesus did not come for the purpose of growing his Twitter account or Facebook friend’s list. Jesus didn’t come as a moral teacher or a good man. Jesus came for the purpose of saving sinners and Simeon had seen the Savior of the world face-to-face.
What greater Christmas gift could you receive than Jesus Himself? Although Simeon’s Christmas was 40 days after the birth of Jesus – it was God’s promise fulfilled and Simeon had now become a witness of God’s great salvation plan in person. The Bible declares in Acts 4:12 that salvation is not available through any other person in human history other than Jesus Himself. Buddha, Mohammad, Allah, Confucius, and all other religious leaders are incapable of providing salvation. From birth Jesus was called “salvation” and He alone has the power to forgive sins.
2. Simeon announced good news to the Gentiles.
Many of the Jews who eventually became Christians did not fully understand God’s plan to save Gentiles until much later. Therefore, when Simeon stood in the temple and praised God while holding baby Jesus, all of the Jews and priests serving in the temple had a very small view of God’s salvation plan. They believed that God was saving the Jews only and they often despised the Gentiles. However, out of Simeon’s mouth was a different idea altogether. It was God’s plan of salvation that involves people from every tongue, tribe, people and nation. Simeon said Jesus was a “light for revelation to the Gentiles.”
As we consider this wonderful statement by Simeon, we must see God’s intent to save a people for Himself from all the world. Jesus would come to save His people from their sins according to the angel (Matthew 1:21), and these people would be from all nations. Salvation through Jesus is for all people groups, all nationalities, all social classes, male, female, young, old, rich, and poor. The salvation of God transcends social and socioeconomic barriers. What a wonderful truth! The Bible makes clear that “whosoever” calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). If any person would repent of their sins and believe by faith that Jesus died for them on the cross and after being buried in a tomb rose again from the dead on the third day – the Bible says they will be saved.
Jesus did not remain a baby. He did not stay in a manger. He grew into a man who lived a sinless life, kept the law of God in totality, was tempted in all ways like us but remained without sin, and was killed on a cross in a Roman execution. According to Isaiah 53, Jesus took the wrath of God for us. The wonderful truth of Christmas is summed up very well in the words of J.I. Packer:
The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity – hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory – because at the Father’s will Jesus became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.
As you celebrate the birth of our Savior today with your family – remember Simeon’s Christmas! Simeon called him “salvation.”
Pastor Josh Buice