Praise Him and Have Peace
Many people fear dying. Some fear the thought of life ending. Some fear how they are going to die. And some fear the timing of their death; maybe because they feel like they must accomplish certain deeds in life before departing. All of this is sinful. How so? We are commanded not to fear death at all. And we are to be in this world, not of this world. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the Will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2). Only God knows the timing and method of our death, so why live in fear of death at all? This is not a call to be cavalier with our lives, but rather to trust in God’s plan for our lives so we can live them to the fullest, always in His service.
Consider the Song of Simeon:
“And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, [Joseph and Mary] brought [Jesus] up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord … and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord. 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 [Joseph and Mary] 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 and said, ‘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.’ And His father and His mother marveled at what was said about Him.” (Luke 2:22–33).
Simeon had no reason to fear the timing of his death. God had told him that he would see the Christ before dying. For a righteous and devout Israelite, that means a lot. You see, the Israelites were under Roman occupation and oppression and were anxiously awaiting their Deliverer, the Christ, the Messiah. They knew God’s Word from Moses and the Prophets, all pointing towards the Messiah, our Lord and Savior. The Israelites believed the Messiah would be a great warrior, someone who would save Israel from her enemies, particularly the Romans. We now know that Jesus is much more than that. He did not come to conquer the Romans and cast them out of Israel, He came to conquer sin, death, and the devil through His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. He came to deliver us from our evil and rescue us from eternal damnation in hell.
Part of the Lutheran church’s liturgy (order of worship service) is the “Nunc Dimittis” as a post-communion canticle; it is the Song of Simeon. But how does Holy Communion have anything to do with the infant Jesus being presented at the temple? Simeon was very devout in his worship to God and spent much of his time in the temple. He had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen Jesus Christ. When Simeon entered the temple that day and saw Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, the Holy Spirit showed him that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Imagine how Simeon felt when he held Jesus in his arms. Much like the shepherds from the field witnessing the angelic annunciation of Jesus’ birth, or the Magi seeing His star in the sky and traveling to worship Him; Simeon was bearing witness to the Christ-child and experienced the immense joy from God the Holy Spirit.
When you think about the Savior of the world, the only Son of God, Jesus Christ, do you think about the infant Jesus? Without Jesus’ wondrous incarnation and miraculous birth, His sacrifice on the cross and magnificent resurrection from the grave would not be possible. Throughout His entire life, from conception to death and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled EVERY Messianic prophecy. His sacrifice for you and me is something we celebrate every time we partake in Holy Communion. So, when we sing the Song of Simeon after Holy Communion, we give thanks and praise to God for sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from the punishment of our sins; eternal damnation.
What is better than holding the infant Jesus in your arms? How about taking Holy Communion; eating His body and blood, which was freely given for the forgiveness of our sins? Just like Simeon knew that he could die in peace because he had seen and held the Lord’s Christ, we know that we can also die in peace because Jesus has already died in our stead and rose again for the forgiveness of all our sins.
When you are sick and hospitalized, nurses care for you. They are considered your medical advocates. What does that mean exactly? It means they are someone you can trust to have your best interest at heart in answering your questions and explaining the health issues and treatments as doctors try to heal you from your ailments. Who is our spiritual advocate? “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:26–27).