Luke 2:30–32 (ESV) … “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.”
The Spirit controlled everything Simeon did. He spied Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ parents, as they entered the temple. They were simply obeying God’s law. Simeon intercepted them and took the child in his arms. He gave them a blessing they did not expect. Praising God (cf. 1:68), Simeon first claimed his dismissal from God’s army. His tour of duty was done. God had fulfilled his promise. Simeon could now die and claim his eternal peace. He had seen God’s salvation. Named Jesus, “Yahweh is salvation” (v. 21) and proclaimed by the angel as Savior (v. 11), Jesus was what Simeon had longed for and looked for all these years—the salvation, the deliverance of his people.
Such salvation is not a human act or human possession. It is God’s salvation. He prepared for it clearly on the stage of world history where all people could see. He made it a light for revelation to the Gentiles. Yes, salvation was more than fulfillment of Israel’s nationalistic hopes. Salvation was a light revealing God and his purposes and ways to all people, Jew and Gentile alike (see Isa. 40:5; 42:6; 46:13; 49:6; 52:9–10). Israel did have a special place. They were your people. In Jesus they received glory, for the Gentiles saw them as the important instrument God used to bring salvation to the whole world.
Shepherds amazed Bethlehem with their message (v. 18). Simeon amazed Joseph and Mary with his. News about Jesus is never ordinary, daily newspaper stuff. News about Jesus leaves the audience wondering: How can this be? Who is this?