When the baby Jesus was eight days old he was taken to the temple to be presented for circumcision, as was the Jewish custom. “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:25-32)
Simeon was an old man who depended entirely upon God. He was waiting in hopeful expectation for the promised Messiah and lived a life in conformity to God’s ideals.
“Now Simeon, a man of great faith in God’s consolation, sees Jesus and is ready to die in peace. And his peace is not because he has a naïve notion that the Messiah will bring only joy and prosperity to his people. He knows that Jesus will be spoken against; some will fall because of him. His peace is in the assurance that God keeps his word (he has seen the Messiah ‘according to thy word’), and somehow beyond all the conflict to come salvation will prevail.” (John Piper)
Indeed, it is heart-wrenching for family and friends to lose a loved one to death but for the believer who is secure in the grace and love of Jesus Christ the end of this earthly life should not be feared. As Charles Spurgeon once preached, “Ah, it is sweet to see a Christian die! It is the noblest thing on earth—the dismissal of a saint from his labor to his reward! From his conflicts to his triumphs! The gorgeous pageantry of princes is as nothing. The glory of the setting sun is not to be compared with the heavenly lights which illumine the soul as it fades from the organs of bodily sense to be ushered into the august Presence of the Lord!”
Recently I read this message written by an Annapolis friend and grandmother about her husband. “Please pray for no infection and peace of heart and mind as the day [of surgery] approaches. We know our days are numbered by the Lord alone and we are safe in His hands, truly. We passed the one year mark in hospice two months ago and are so thankful for all this time with our dear Mo. Praying for one more Christmas with all our kids.”
That kind of perspective is a rare gift. If you can, listen to “Simeon’s Song” by Michael Card on YouTube. It ends with memorable lines. “Now’s the time to take Him in your arms. Your life will never come to an end. He’s the only way that you’ll find peace. He’ll give you salvation. He’s the Light of the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel.”