"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 Lord’s 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…” (Luke 2:25-28).
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
For centuries, the people of Israel hoped that they would see the long promised Savior come in their lifetime. One lifetime succeeded another until finally the Divine Word came to a man named Simeon that the Savior would enter the world in his lifetime. We know very little about Simeon except what we are told right here. He was a devout man. He lived with an expectation that God would stand behind every promise that He had made. Luke writes that Simeon was “righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”
We don't know how the Divine Word came to Simeon or how long after it was made known to him it actually took to be fulfilled. Can you even imagine the expectation with which Simeon lived each day of his life, looking for the appearance of the Savior in every crowd, in every gathering, in every individual? We can only imagine what Simeon might have been looking for—a powerful, handsome, influential man ready to single-handedly repair a world so out of order?
Then one day—probably just a regular day during his normal routine—Simeon entered the Temple courts and began to make his way to the sanctuary past all the parents who had brought their eight day old sons to have them circumcised as the Law of Moses commanded. Simeon suddenly stopped. His eyes fell upon one infant. And somehow, Simeon knew that the day had come. He slowly walked over to the child who was being held in his mother's arms, and he reached out his own arms for the child. And as Simeon received this long awaited promise, this devout man from Jerusalem says,
"Lord, 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" (Luke 2:29—32).
You also know these words as the "Nunc Dimittis;” Latin for "now dismiss." As Simeon held the Savior of the world in his hands, he was ready to die in peace; he knew that it was now safe to die. The Savior had arrived who would do everything necessary to remove the wrath of God against all sin. He would restore the perfect relationship between God and His people to the joyful bliss as it was in Eden before the great fall. He would stand up and fight the evil foe and He would conquer the serpent of the garden forever. He would stand before the Judge of all mankind and take the sentence for the sin of the world upon Himself. And then He would carry out the sentence fully, completely, finally. And when He had finished what He had come to do, He will have reconciled God to man and all would know that it is now safe to die.
What about you? Can you say with the confident assurance of Simeon, "Lord, now let your servant depart, in peace?" I would suggest to you that it is only as we are ready to die in peace that we are truly ready to live in peace. It is only when we are at peace with God that we can hope to be at peace with ourselves and with our neighbors. We have been reconciled to God through the child that Simeon held in his arms. Christ has made it safe for us to die, which makes it safe for us to live without fear and at peace.
Brothers and sisters, I implore you: As you are able, continue to gather in this temple, hear the wonderful message of the forgiveness of your sins through Jesus, and as you hold the very body of Christ in your hands, rejoice like Simeon as you hear the words, “The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting. DEPART IN PEACE.”
God’s richest blessings!
Pastor M. <t><