‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation,’ (Luke 2:29-30 NIVUK)
It’s interesting to read people’s last words before they die. Some are comical like Humphrey Bogart who said, ’I should have never switched from scotch to martinis,’ or Spike Milligan whose epitaph reads ‘I told you I was ill.’ Others reflect their views about God, for example Joseph Coveney, an American atheist said, ‘I die as I live. I disbelieve in God, the bible and the Christian religion,’ and Karel Soucek, a Canadian stuntman who remarked, ‘There is no Heaven or Hell; there is no God. It is all a myth. You’re born, you live, one day you die and that is it.’ Some demonstrate that they are not prepared for death like Caesar Borgia who said, ‘While I lived, I provided for everything but death; now I must die and am unprepared to die.’
On the other hand, Simeon, the speaker of the words in our featured text, faced his death with comfort and peace. The occasion was Joseph and Mary’s presentation of Jesus as their firstborn son in the temple, in order to dedicate him to the Lord and offer a sacrifice prescribed by the law. Simeon was a devout and righteous man who was waiting eagerly for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen this messiah, and that this baby was the one he had been waiting for.
Simeon took Jesus into his arms and in praising God declared that he was now ready to die because he had seen the salvation of the Lord – because he had seen Jesus.
Groucho Marx quipped on his deathbed, ‘Die my dear? That’s the last thing I will do.’ Being ready for the last the thing we do in this life is not a matter of age, because our body and health are failing, or ensuring that all of our affairs have been put in order, important as that may be, rather it is because we have seen God’s salvation in Jesus.
Looking to Jesus means that we can face death without dread or fear
(Hebrews 2:14-15). We can join with the Apostle Paul and say
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’…thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (1 Corinthians 15:54-55, 57)
Though we all die, we shall live again because of Jesus. Salvation has been prepared in the sight of all people, we just need to believe and trust in Jesus to experience it
(Acts 16:30-31). This is the gospel message. It’s Good News.
Dare we believe it?
If we do it will enable us to be ready to die.
Have a good week looking to Jesus.
Father, praise be to you, for my eyes have seen your salvation in Jesus, which has brought peace and comfort in death.