“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32 Read Luke 2:22-39
In our worship service, following the Lord’s Supper, we sing the Nunc Dimittis, the words of Simeon at the presentation of our Lord, recorded in Luke 2:29-32. It’s also an option in the Order of Vespers.
Simeon of old was ready to depart this life, but God had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ, the promised Messiah and Savior from sin, the one promised of old who would “redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (Psalm 130:8).
Now, having seen with his eyes and having taken Jesus up in his arms, Simeon was ready to depart this life in peace because he had seen the promised Christ Child. He was ready to die and face God’s judgment because he knew that His God and Savior had come and that, for the sake of the holy life this Child would live and for the sake of the innocent sufferings and death this Child would accomplish, atonement for his sins would be made.
He was ready to die at peace with God for, in Christ Jesus, he had a Savior from sin and its eternal punishment! Having believed the promises of God and waited years for God to send his Savior, Simeon was privileged to see the fulfillment of God’s ancient promises with his own eyes and to take up his Savior in his own arms!
What about you? Are you ready to die and stand before God, your Maker? Are you at peace with God, knowing that your sins are paid for and forgiven for Christ’s sake?
For such confidence, we look to the pages of Holy Scripture, for there we, too, see our Savior and the salvation God has provided for us. There we see Christ’s holy life for us under God’s Law, and there we see His bitter sufferings and death for us on the cross.
There we see Jesus, our Savior, the Light of the Gentiles and the Glory of His people Israel. There we learn of God’s pardon and peace upon all who repent of their sinful ways and look in faith to Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross. There we learn that, through faith in Christ, we are not condemned but have eternal life!
The Scriptures tell us “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). The Scriptures tell us that “he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2); and that through faith in Him, “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). The Scriptures tell us that for a believer to depart this life is “to be with Christ; which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). God’s Word assures us that the one who hears Jesus’ word and believes on Him that sent Him, has “everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).
And so, when we look at Christ through the Scriptures and trust in Him, we too can be ready, as Simeon was, to depart this life in peace; for, as the Scriptures say, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2).
And it is most certainly fitting that we sing these words of Simeon after partaking of the Lord’s Supper, for there we partake of Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (cf. John 1:29). As Simeon took up the Christ Child in his own arms and said the words of the Nunc Dimittis, so we take up Christ in the Lord’s Supper and eat and drink of His body and blood given and shed for the remission of our sins.
And, as we depart this service, we depart in peace, knowing that Christ has come and won for us forgiveness and life everlasting. We leave with the assurance that our sins are pardoned and forgiven and that we have peace with God because Christ died for our sins and rose again.
And, when we depart this life, we can say with Simeon, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
God grant us such faith and peace in Christ Jesus our Savior!
Lord Jesus Christ, let our eyes behold You through the pages of Holy Scripture, that we too may trust in You and always be ready to depart this life in peace. Revive the weak in faith and strengthen all of us, that we may stand fast in our Savior until He returns to grant unto us and all believers life everlasting. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]