Tuesday, January 3, 2023
Reader: “My eyes have seen your salvation,”
Response: “which you have prepared before the face of all peoples.”
Scripture: Luke 2:28-32
Simeon took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
I have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared for all people.
He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
One of the wonderful touches in this account is that the old priest, who was presiding in the Temple, had been shown by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s anointed, the Messiah (which means ‘anointed one’). The Holy Spirit led him to the Temple that day. The day was ordinary until Mary and Joseph appeared with the baby and handed him their child. He knew instantly who he had in his arms! Can you imagine his joy?! This was the child God’s people had been waiting for since the promise to Abraham 2,000 years before, actually all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden.
You can see why Simeon could say, “Now let your servant die in peace as you have promised.” This sentence has been translated in various ways. “Let your servant depart in peace.” or “You may now dismiss your servant in peace.” or “Now You are letting Your servant depart in peace.” To me, “departing in peace” is a beautiful, accurate way to describe a Christian’s death. While your physical body stops working here on earth, the “you” that is you continues on in the presence of Christ. In other words, to die means one is simply “dismissed” from a physical life on this earth to continue life anew in heaven for those who believe in the Savior. I believe that paints the clearest picture of the death of a saint.
This same concept occurs with Peter, James, and John’s meeting with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. The word used for Jesus’ departure from earth in his discussion with Moses and Elijah is “exodus.” The ultimate Redeemer accompanies every believer’s exodus. The biblical concept of death is entirely different from the world’s concept. We never die, we just go to another world. A word from C. S. Lewis: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” Simeon’s longing to see the Messiah looked to another world. Upon seeing the Lord’s Anointed, Simeon was “dismissed” and went to that “other world” for which he was made.
That longing we all have in our hearts for a better world where everything is just and good and right, simply means we were made for another world, that world in the presence of our Savior. Jesus brings a holy satisfaction like nothing in this world!
Music: “Nunc Dimittis” Gretchaninoff National Lutheran Choir
“Nunc Dimittis” Paul Smith Voces8 The text of the passage sung in Latin.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEHufcT3jmw Robert Shaw Festival Singers
“Nyne Otpushchayeshi” The text in Russian from Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers”
Lord, if any have to die this day, let it be me, for I am ready. –Billy Bray, 1794-1868
The story is that this tin miner was radically changed from a drunken blasphemer into an ardent evangelist in Cornwall, England. He is said to have spoken this prayer while waiting with his fellow miners to begin the day’s shift.