“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29–32, NIV)
It’s difficult to imagine what it must have felt like to be a slave in America. They seemed to have little hope of their bondage ever ending. Sadly, many slaves died never experiencing freedom. But, praise God, the promise of freedom finally came to pass through the courage and conviction of many. And the promise that many believed, one that is deeply embedded in the pages of Holy Scripture—“whom the Son sets free is free indeed”—was physically fulfilled for them.
In the same way that slaves dreamed and waited with resolute conviction, Simeon waited in faith for what God had promised His people Israel. Simeon’s greatest hope and prayer was for the day that Israel would be delivered from their bondage. This became the flame that fueled his passion and purpose for living—it gave him a daily reason to continue to trust and depend upon God’s promises.
A promise is no greater than the integrity and the ability of the one who has given the promise. God promised the nation of Israel that they would experience salvation—not just from the bondage of governmental powers, but from the bondage that imprisons the heart. Simeon, being led by the Holy Spirit, understood that seeing the baby Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise. Once having this encounter, Simeon knew that he could exit this world in a state of peace like he had never known in his lifetime.
History teaches us that the promise of freedom, when fulfilled, can change the world. This season we celebrate the promise of the ultimate freedom, salvation, that was fulfilled by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Messiah. Simeon’s story reminds us that we can trust in God’s promises—they are steadfast and true.