Jesus was a babe in arms when he and his parents went to the Temple to offer a sacrifice and to present their child to the Lord. That day Simeon, a righteous and devout man, was also at the Temple. He had been promised that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. When he saw Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus, he took the child in his arms and prayed this prayer of dismissal:
“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 for the glory of your people Israel.”
For Simeon, and for the Christian, there is a time when, if a person has found his peace with God and is ready to die, now, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, he can truly say, “Now, Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace” and then depart from this earth. Isn’t that a relevant thought for our day?
From a personal point of view, I can honestly say that I enjoy living here on earth. Life has been good to me. However, I also pray that I might realistically understand there is a time to die. A time comes for many people when the physician will look into the face of a loving wife and ask, “Shall we shut off the life support? We can keep him free of pain, but it will not be quality time.”
It seems that Simeon’s prayer teaches us that, for the Christian, there is a time to go home to God.
Moving on with our text, Simeon announces that Jesus will be a light to the Gentile world. In Christ, salvation will be for all people. No longer will God’s Kingdom be limited to Israel, though the Gospel will be for them also. Paul said it well, “I am not ashamed of the gospel. Because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16) This light is for all of us. The Christian age has come.
Let’s look at a few of these shining lights that come from our Bible, which make great changes in our lives. We will let them speak for themselves.
1. Christ talks to us about our guilt.
“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. . . . When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:1, 3).
I couldn’t eat; I couldn’t sleep.
“For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:4).
I knew my way of life was wrong.
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity” (Psalm 32:5).
I gave up. I confessed my sins to you. You forgave my sin, and a big bag of spiritual garbage was taken from me.
2. I believe in Christ, yet my sin is still with me. What’s my problem?
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:8).
Could it be that you believe in Christ, but have not given him your life?
3. Christ has saved us, but there is also a new life that comes to us. Our good works do not save us; they are a fruit of our faith. As we begin to move on in our relationship with the Lord, our prayer is,
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
We ask God for a new attitude. “Don’t give up on me, and keep working in my heart!”
4. I have tried to build a good family, Lord, but things are not going well.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
What place does God’s Word have in your home?
5. I am old. Many of my friends have died. I have many aches and pains. I don’t like being old. It’s lonely.
“Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone” (Psalm 71:9).
These are samples of the light that God wants to share with you. They will brighten up your life. God’s Word has many other words, as well, that will make a difference in how you live and die. Why not spend a little more time in your Bible? When you find one of these verses that speaks to you, write it down on the back pages of your Bible. Read it often. Memorize it. Remember the Psalmist’s words: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
Does this light shine brightly, dimly, or not at all in your life? Speaking to us in His Word, God can light up our lives.