Chapter 23 The Desire Of Simeon

Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace … for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation (Luke 2:29, 30).

There is a growing sense of helplessness in the world and maybe something of perplexity among believers. We are doubtless in the end days, but there is a special witness to bear at the close of the age. Everything outside of Christ is disjointed, disrupted, and distempered. Believers live in the midst of a disintegrating society and our witness must be one of harmony, order, love, and of heaven’s authority. We are to exhibit, amidst the chaos of earth, the life of the heavens.

The Man Called Simeon

Simeon was an old man. He, first of all, represented the Old Testament priestly system—its final expression. That system was one of symbols and spectacular drama, which demonstrated spiritual truth in dramatic form. In old Simeon we see that system ready to pass away. The reality of those symbols had come in the Person of Christ and so the symbols were to pass.

Simeon, being old and worn, represented also the end of the age—the age of man’s rule over the earth. We are told that the heavens and the earth, in their present form, are to wax old and pass away and do so—as Simeon was about to do—at the sight of the face of Christ—“From whose face the earth and the heaven fled away” (Revelation 20:11).

Simeon also represented believers who are ready to die. Simeon had no fear in doing so but was girded with peace. Said he: “For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.” His eyes had beheld the Saviour and he had seen God’s salvation in the face of Jesus Christ. That gave him peace in departing.

The Significance of Simeon

Simeon now held Christ in his personal possession. He did not mind the passing of all external ritualism and ceremonialism. What are shadows to the substance? What are images to the reality? Simeon had lived his life in a ceaseless round of religious performances, but now he was beholding the living Son of God in arms of love and admiration—“Then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God” (v. 28).

Simeon also now stood in God’s eternal purpose. He was holding Christ in the midst, and before, “the face of all people.” This was God’s intention that His Son be set forth at the center of the Church—the center of human history—the center of all things—the center of a believer’s life—the center of the universe. In holding Christ in His arms Simeon was saying, in effect, “I am with God in His goings—in His irresistible onward march to finally sum up all things in Christ.

Simeon also touched human history and that in a very vital way. No one can touch that history for good unless they touch it with the Lord’s Christ, the Saviour of men. When un-regenerate men touch it there is chaos and destruction, and “sorrow on the sea” of nations. The world is always so much worse for man’s touch. Simeon touched it in a very vital way by holding forth Christ, and that touch ended one era and began another, which was to be one of infinite grace.

The Ministry of Simeon

Simeon set forth a living Christ. It is a natural law that “the less is blessed of the better” (Hebrews 7:7). That verse tells us that such is “without all contradiction”—that is, there is no argument about it. Please notice that Simeon blessed, not the Child, but Joseph and Mary. Now that he had the Lord’s Christ in his arms as a living reality, he is able to bless other souls. And so it was that “Simeon blessed them.” We who live in these end times are doubtless living when “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7). Simeon’s ministry is what our ministry ought to be.

Simeon also testified that he himself was but a servant of God. “Thy servant,” he says in verse 29. He was standing in a new world of spiritual delight. Hitherto he had been but a servant of a religious system, but now God had given him, so to speak, His Son. He now could rapturously sing, “I am Thy servant,” as did the apostle Paul of later times who loved to designate himself, “a servant of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1).

Simeon could also declare the destiny of nations. “Behold, this Child,” said he, “is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against” (v. 34). Israel would stumble and fall over Him, but would rise again—and rise to be the head, and not the tail of the nations and the administrators of Messiah’s Millennial Kingdom. But He would be much spoken against. The day would come, when the nations would gather themselves against the Lord, and against His anointed (Psalm 2). The destiny of all men in the nations would be determined by their response to this Child whom Simeon was holding in his arms. O what is the height of happiness to which men are transported when they hold Christ in possession! What must be the depth of misery from which nothing can save men who despise Him! O how we should be glad and rejoice in the never-ending honors and enjoyments of having Him in possession and exult in Him as Simeon did!

Let earth and heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The Incarnate Deity;
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made man.

Unsearchable the love
That hath the Saviour brought;
The grace is far above
Mankind’s or angel’s thought:
Suffice for us that God, we know,
Our God, is manifest below.

Made perfect first in love,
And sanctified by grace,
We shall from earth remove,
And see His glorious face:
Then shall His love be fully showed,
And man shall then be lost in God.

—Charles Wesley