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When God makes a promise, He is true to His word. His Spirit gives power to the word and it comes to pass. Jesus brings peace into our life. When we see Jesus, we see salvation.

Simeon could have done something else about the time Jesus parent’s brought Jesus to the temple. There were lots of choices for him I bet. In fact, he probably had other plans. But the Spirit was on him and led him.

May I listen to God and not worry about my plans so much.

May I see Jesus today and know that He is my salvation.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Master’s [Lord’s] Messiah [Christ].  And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

“Master, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.

English Standard Version. (2016). (Luke 2:25–32). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Simeon and Anna, like Zacharias and Elizabeth, were a part of the faithful Jewish remnant that eagerly looked for their Messiah. Because of his readiness and eagerness to die, Simeon is usually pictured as a very old man, but nothing in Scripture supports this. Tradition says he was 113 years old, but it is only tradition.

“The consolation of Israel” means the messianic hope. One of the traditional Jewish prayers is, “May I see the consolation of Israel!” That prayer was answered for Simeon when he saw Jesus the Messiah in the temple. He was a man who was led by the Spirit of God, taught by the Word of God, and obedient to the will of God; and therefore, he was privileged to see the salvation of God.

How important it is for people to see God’s salvation, Jesus the Messiah, before they see death. In Luke 2:29–32 we find Simeon’s response to seeing Jesus. This is the fifth and last of the “Christmas songs” in Luke. It is first a worship hymn as he blesses God for keeping His promise and sending the Messiah. He joyfully praises God that he has been privileged to see the Lord’s Christ.

But his song is also a salvation hymn: “For mine eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:30). Now he is ready to die! The word depart in the Greek has several meanings, and each of them tells us something about the death of a disciple of Jesus. It means to release a prisoner, to untie a ship and set sail, to take down a tent, and to unyoke a beast of burden. God’s people are not afraid of death because it only frees us from the burdens of this life and leads into the blessings of the next life.

Simeon’s song is a missionary hymn, which is something unusual for a devout Jew standing in the temple. He sees this great salvation going out to the Gentiles! Jesus has restored the glory to Israel and brought the light to the Gentiles so that all people can be saved. Remember that the compassion of the Messiah for the whole world is one of Luke’s major themes.

Then Simeon stopped praising and started prophesying, and in his message used three important images: the stone, the sign, and the sword.

The stone is an important Old Testament image of God. Messiah would be a “rejected cornerstone”, and the nation of Israel would stumble over Him. Because of Jesus Christ, many in Israel would fall in conviction and then rise in salvation. (Simeon seems to be speaking about one group, not two.) Even today, God’s people Israel stumble over the Cross and do not understand that Jesus is their Rock.

The word sign means “a miracle,” not so much as a demonstration of power but as a revelation of divine truth. Our Master’s miracles in John’s Gospel are called “signs” because they reveal special truths about Him. Jesus the Messiah is God’s miracle; and yet, instead of admiring Him, the people attacked Him and spoke against Him. His birth was a miracle, yet they slandered it. They said His miracles were done in the power of Satan and that His character was questionable. They slandered His death and lied about His resurrection. Today, people are even speaking against His coming again.

But the way people speak about Jesus the Messiah is evidence of what is in their hearts. He is not only the “salvation stone” and the “judgment stone”, but He is also the “touchstone” that exposes what people are really like. “What think you of the Messiah?” (Matt. 22:42) is still the most important question for anybody to answer.

The image of the sword was for Mary alone, and it spoke of the suffering and sorrow she would bear as the mother of the Messiah. (This suggests that Joseph was dead when Jesus began His ministry thirty years later, or Joseph would have been included.) The Greek word means a large sword such as Goliath used, and the verb means “constantly keep on piercing.”

During our Master’s life and ministry, Mary did experience more and more sorrow until one day she stood by His cross and saw Him suffer and die. However, without minimizing her devotion, Mary’s personal pain must not in any way be made a part of the Messiah’s redemptive work. Only He could die for the sins of the world.

How much did Mary and Joseph understand of God’s great plan for this miracle Child? We don’t know, but we do know that Mary stored up all these things and pondered them. The word means “to put things together”; Mary sought for some pattern that would help her understand God’s will. There were times when Mary misunderstood Him, and this would add to her suffering. The last time you find Mary named in Scripture, she is in the Upper Room, praying with the other believers.

Digging Deeper – What is salvation?

Salvation is deliverance from danger or suffering. To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health, or preservation. Sometimes, the Bible uses the words saved or salvation to refer to temporal, physical deliverance, such as Paul’s deliverance from prison.

New Strong’s Dictionary

σωτηρία sōtēria, so-tay-ree´-ah; fem. of a der. of 4990 as (prop. abstr.) noun; rescue or safety (phys. or mor.):— deliver, health, salvation, save, saving.[1]

Baker Encyclopedia

One of the central messages of the Bible. Scripture reveals God but it also reveals his plan for the human race, that of salvation. In that sense, salvation is the theme of both the ot and nt. Because of the progressive nature of revelation man sees different aspects of God’s plan, but the kernel truth of salvation is present throughout the writings of the Bible. God is a God of salvation desiring that all humankind repent and be saved (Ez 18:32; 1 Tm 2:3, 4).[2]

Holman Treasure of Key Bible Words

The Hebrew word for salvation, yeshuʿah, is a powerful word with connotations of deliverance. The Hebrew verbal root yashaʿ means basically “to deliver.” The noun yeshuʿah comes from this root and is usually translated as “salvation or deliverance” depending upon its context. The noun can be translated also as “help,” “victory,” “prosperity.” Its basic denotation is “to rescue from danger or distress.”

The word can also refer to help or deliverance given by persons (1 Sam. 14:45; 2 Sam. 10:11). It can indicate the safety or security (yeshuʿah) provided by fortified walls that protect people from danger. But primarily the word highlights the marvelous salvation provided by the Lord in the Old Testament and brought to light in the prophets.[3]

Lexham Bible Dictionary

In the Bible, salvation usually comes from God, Jesus, or an agent of God. Terms for salvation include:

  • יָשַׁע (yasha’) and יְשׁוּעָה (yeshu’ah)—Hebrew words most often translated as “save” and “salvation”;
  • נָצַל (natsal)—also Hebrew, usually translated as “rescue”; and
  • σῴζω (sōzō) and σωτηρία (sōtēria)—Greek words meaning “save” and “salvation.”[4]

International Standard Bible Dictionary

That St. Paul expected the near advent of the kingdom of God with a judgment preceding, and that salvation meant to him primarily deliverance from this judgment, need not be argued. And, accordingly, emphasis is thrown sometimes on the future deliverance and sometimes on the present conditions for the deliverance (contrast Rom 5:9 and 8:24), but the practical problem is the latter. More explicitly than in Christ’s recorded teaching the nature and the blessings of the kingdom are described (see Kingdom of God), but the additional matter is without particular religious import. A certain privilege of the Jews appears (Rom 3:1–8; 9–11), but the practical content of the privilege seems to be eschatological only (11:26). Individual conversion is of course taken for granted, but the life after that becomes highly corporate[5]

Dictionary of Bible Themes

The transformation of a person’s individual nature and relationship with God as a result of repentance and faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross. All humanity stands in need of salvation, which is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ.[6]

Wayne Grudem on salvation [7]

  1. Election(God’s choice of people to be saved) is an act of God before creation in which he chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of his sovereign good pleasure. The New Testament teaches election as a source of comfort for believers ( 8:28), as a reason to praise God (Eph. 1:5 – 6), and as an encouragement to evangelism (2 Tim. 2:10).
  2. Effective calling (proclaiming the message of the gospel)is an act of God the Father, speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel, in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond in saving faith ( 8:30).
  3. Regeneration (being born again)is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us (John 3:3 – 8).
  4. Conversion (faith and repentance) is our willing response to the gospel call, in which we sincerely repent of sins and place our trust in Christ for salvation (John 3:16). Both faith and repentance continue throughout life ( 6:12Gal. 2:20).
    • Saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God (John 1:12).
    • Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 7:9 – 10).
  5. Justification (right legal standing)is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight ( 2:16).
  6. Adoption (membership in God’s family)is an act of God whereby he makes us members of his family (John 1:12).
  7. Sanctification (right conduct of life and likeness to Christ)is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives ( 6:11 – 14).
    •    The baptism of the Holy Spirit refers to the activity of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the Christian life when he gives us new spiritual life and cleanses us and gives a clear break with the power and love of sin (1 Cor. 12:13).
    •    The filling of the Holy Spirit can occur repeatedly in a Christian’s life and produces increased sanctification, increased power, and effectiveness in ministry (1 Cor. 12:31).
  8. Perseverance (remaining a Christian). The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again (John 10:27 – 39).
  9. Death (going to be with the Lord) is the final outcome of living in a fallen world, is not a punishment for Christians, and is used by God to complete our sanctification (1 Cor. 15:54 – 55).
    In the intermediate state between death and resurrection there is a separation of body and soul. The souls of believers go immediately into God’s presence (2 Cor. 5:8) and the souls of unbelievers go immediately to eternal punishment (Luke 16:24 – 26), but the bodies of both remain on earth.
  10. Glorification (receiving a resurrection body)is the final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, reunites them with their souls, and changes the bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like his own (1 Cor. 15:12 – 58).

Two Parting Notes

Common grace is the grace of God by which he gives people innumerable blessings that are not part of salvation (Matt. 5:44 – 45). God gives common grace in the physical, intellectual, moral, creative, societal, and religious realms. God gives common grace to redeem those who will be saved, and to demonstrate his goodness, mercy, justice, and glory.

Union with Christ is a phrase used to summarize several relationships between believers and Christ, through which Christians receive every benefit of salvation (Eph. 1:4). It includes the following aspects: (1) We are in Christ; (2) Christ is in us; (3) We are like Christ; (4) We are with Christ.

[1] Strong, J. (1996). The New Strong’s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Salvation. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1884). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[3] Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). In Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (p. 159). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Morrison, M. D. (2016). Salvation. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Easton, S. B. (1915). Salvation. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 2668). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.

[6] Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.

[7] The 4-Minute Explanation of How Salvation Works – ChurchSource Blog