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VI. Nunc Dimittis

If you asked Simeon about “the Christmas Spirit”, he would start talking about the Holy Spirit. Look at verse 25: the Holy Spirit was upon him. Verse 26: the Spirit told him that he would not die without seeing the Christ. Verse 27: He came in the Spirit into the temple. And so Simeon, full of this Christmas Spirit, takes the infant Jesus into his arms, and sings a Spirit-filled song that tells us so much about what Christmas is for.

Christmas is for setting slaves free: When we hear Simeon say “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace”, this is about more than Simeon’s death. Simeon is eager to be released from slavery to the law of sin and death that had kept humanity from knowing peace ever since Adam. On that day in the temple, when Jesus’ parents came to do for Him according to the custom of the law, Simeon watched Romans 8:3 take place right in front of him: God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, so that He could condemn sin in the flesh, so that now, the law can be fulfilled by those who walk according to the Spirit who brings life and peace.

Christmas is for peace. When your sinful flesh cannot fulfill the righteous requirements of the law, death is a scary proposition. God’s people knew that the Messiah would deal with sin, but they died before the plan was carried out. Simeon’s special assurance from the Holy Spirit was that he would depart in peace, having seen the Lord’s Christ. Those who died before Christ died with unseen hope; from Simeon onwards, Christians die in peace, having seen God’s salvation.

Christmas is for seeing. God brought Jesus into the world so that faith could become sight, and hope could become history. Simeon no longer had to settle for hearing about a coming Christ; he saw Him with his own eyes. And realize this: Simeon saw very little of God’s salvation, but by faith He saw it all, trusting God to finish what He started. Because we’ve seen Christmas, we trust God for everything that is yet to come.

Christmas is for salvation. Simeon saw that in this child, God was bringing salvation into the world. Simeon got so much joy out of Jesus because He expected so much from Jesus. If all we want from Jesus is material blessings, better marriages, more obedient children, or a happy life, then our joy in Jesus will be small. But if we look to Jesus for salvation, then Simeon’s song will fill our hearts, too.

Christmas is for everyone. This salvation was prepared in the sight or presence of all peoples. Christmas was meant as an entry point to the Christian faith, and even today, many people only ever come to church and hear the gospel at Christmas. Even if they don’t know anything about God or the Bible, they know about Christmas. God uses the public nature of Christmas to draw people to Jesus.

Christmas is for light: For thousands of years, the Gentiles have been in darkness without God. But now, light is dawning! Jesus is too great a savior to save the Jews only; His salvation reaches to the ends of the earth. Simeon was thrilled that soon men and women from every tribe and nation would be glorifying God because of what the little baby in his arms would reveal to the world.

Christmas is for glory: Israel had always been mocked by foreigners who asked “Where is your God?” In the face of ridicule, Simeon waited and trusted, and now his faith is vindicated. Cradling the infant Jesus, he is full of holy pride on Israel’s behalf. All nations of the earth are being blessed through this Jewish baby, this son of Abraham. Israel gave Christmas to the world, and this is her glory.

So as you depart from this place, and until you depart from this life, be at peace! Know that in God’s sight the righteous requirement of the law is fully met in your case, because you have believed in the Lord’s Christ. Your eyes have seen Him revealed in the pages of God’s Word, and He is your salvation. Wait for your glory, like Simeon, and one day you will see it. Jesus is your glory, and He is coming again.

Posted on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 by CJ Bowen