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Learning How To Die: In Peace! (Luke 2:22-40) First Sunday after Christmas

January 1, 2012

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St. Luke 2:22-40

Two voices.  Senior citizen voices.  Prophetic voices.  Holy Spirit-filled voices.  And so they are last day / end of time voices.  Bearing witness today.  The voices rejoice, not in themselves, but in a Baby brought to the temple in Jerusalem.   

You might want to stay awake and listen to these voices today.  The first is Simeon.  The second is Anna.  They’ve been waiting, like Israel, for the Savior.  For the promised Messiah.

And lo and behold here He is!  A Baby.  This ordinary Hebrew Baby.  Behold, the mighty Old Testament last days promises are fulfilled.  God has come to save His people and usher in His reign on the earth.  God’s almighty power is here!  In this Baby.

The Holy Spirit promised believing Simeon that he would see the Savior before he died.  And so he waits.  Waits and waits and waits.  Looking for the day to come.  And then it does.  The Savior shows up.  The 40-day-old Baby Jesus brought to the temple! 

There’s no, “What?  Are you kidding me?  This Baby is the Savior?  Is this some kind of joke?  I don’t believe it!”  Instead, Simeon takes the Baby in his arms, blesses God for this wonderful gift, and returns thanks.  A most incredible prayer!  “Lord, now you can let me die in peace just as you’ve promised.  For with my own eyes I have seen your salvation.  The salvation you’ve prepared for all people.  This Baby is the light to the Gentiles and He is given for the glory of your people Israel!”  

Did you catch all that?  Loads of stuff here in Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis.  First, he says, “Lord, now I can die in peace.”  Simeon was ready to die. 

Are you?  Does that subject ever cross your mind?  Or do you just avoid that subject at all costs?  Most people do.  But the day will come.  So learn from Simeon how to die. 

You can die “in peace.”  Yes, “in peace.”  Why?  Because you have your life in order?  Checked off everything on your bucket list?  Retired in comfort?  Have that nest egg securely managed?  Is that where you find all your comfort?  Is that what you look to for all your help?  If so, you won’t die in peace.  Because your idols will crack and they will be revealed as such when the day of death comes.

The opposite is true with the one true God, Baby Jesus.  You can die “in peace” because just like Simeon you have seen the Lord’s Christ.  Simeon held the Baby Jesus in his arms.  Salvation in the flesh.  Baby Jesus had come for him!  To die for him!  To rise from the grave for him!   

 

And for you too!  You are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection.  You are fed with the Good Friday Christ’s Body and Blood.  And your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.  Salvation is yours.  In Christ Jesus.  You’re died for by Him!  You’re totally forgiven by Him!  You have peace with God.  He is not angry with you for Christ’s sake!  He loves you.  He is delighted in you for Christ’s sake!

So you can die “in peace.”  Because Baby God Jesus shed His Blood for you in His circumcision and in His Good Friday dying.

That’s a Good Friday salvation.  A Good Friday redemption.  Done by the Lord’s Christ for you.  A Blood bought salvation for you and for all.  For the Gentiles.  And for Israel.  Baby Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Mary and Joseph marvel.  You’d think that everyone would rejoice in this Baby.  Simeon points out that there will be people who won’t.  “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel.”   Jesus is a double-edged sword.  He is a sign of God’s present gracious gift for sinners who are looking for the Savior.  But for those who say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” they will stumble and fall – hellaciously in their unbelief and self-justification.

There’s no neutrality when it comes to this Baby.  Either you confess Him to be the Lord or you don’t.  There’s no mushy middle.  Either you believe Jesus to be the Savior or you don’t.  Either you believe Jesus died for you or you don’t.

Do you believe or don’t you?  This is the biggest question in your life.  It is the eternal life or death question. 

Simeon and Anna believed.  Senior citizen Anna voiced her thanks to God for the gift of His Son.  She spoke of Baby Jesus as her Savior.  So that others would believe in Him too.

Simeon confessed Jesus to be the Lord’s salvation.  For him and for all!  And for you! 

So we sing Simeon’s song of thanksgiving as our song of thanksgiving after seeing the Lord’s Christ hidden in the bread and the wine.  His Body and His Blood in the Sacrament are the antidote that we will not lie forever in the grave but will see the resurrection of the body. 

So, we go to the Sacrament as if we were going to our death.  So that when we die it will be like going to the Sacrament.  That’s right.  The Sacrament prepares you for the day of your death.  You can die “in peace,” because Jesus promises forgiveness for you there.  And where Jesus forgives you, there’s life and salvation. 

It bears repeating: we go to the Sacrament as if we were going to our death.  So that when we die it will be like going to the Sacrament. 

 “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace according to Your Word.  For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light to reveal you to the Gentiles and for the glory of your people Israel.”

In the Name of Jesus.

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