Will This Be the Day?

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“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” (Luke 2:25-26).
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Will this be the day? Will this be the day that my dream comes true? Will this be the day that the doctor tells us we will soon be hearing the pitter patter of tiny feet? Will this be the day I make the starting team? Will this be the day that I get that promotion I’ve been working so hard for? Will this be the day that he finally pops the question? Will this be the day that my ship comes in?
Will this be the day? Will this be the day that my luck runs out? Will this be the day that he walks out the door and never comes back? Will this be the day that I get that telephone call that every parent fears? Will this be the day that I feel that first warning sign, that tingling in my fingers or tightening of my chest? Will this be the day that I draw my last breath?
Will this be the day? None of us really know, do we? You have some plans, but really, what can you be certain of? So much is out of your hands and beyond your control. So much of life is a mystery.
I guess you could say the same thing about our text. There are a lot of details about which we can only speculate. A man of mystery is walking in the temple. I say this because we don’t know much about him. We know his name is Simeon, but that’s about it. Traditionally, he’s pictured as an elderly man who has led a good life of many years; but we really don’t know. He could be a nineteen-year-old still working on a passable beard for all we know. Is he married? Widowed? Healthy? Ailing? Does he have kids? Grandkids? A good life? Bad?
We don’t know. The Bible doesn’t tell us. It tells us his name is Simeon. The Bible also says that Simeon “was righteous and devout, 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 see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” That’s why Simeon is at the temple—he’s waiting to see the Messiah. Can you imagine—every day waking up asking yourself: “Will this be the day? Will this be the day that I meet the Lord’s Christ, the one promised so long ago?”
Suddenly, He appears. The long-awaited Messiah is there. The Lord Himself has suddenly come to His temple. The Son of God has become flesh to be the Savior of the world, and He is making His first incarnate visit to His Father’s house. The prophecy is fulfilled! The Messiah is on the temple grounds! And nobody notices. Nobody cares. Nobody except for Simeon.
Simeon knows, because the Holy Spirit has told him. He confidently walks up to the Messiah and His entourage. He boldly embraces the Consolation of Israel. And there, in the middle of all the temple activity, he sings so that everyone who hears will know: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word; For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.” The Lord Himself has come to His temple with salvation. He has come to redeem His people. It is a glorious, divine truth; so Simeon sings the song of praise. Uninformed by the Holy Spirit, it’s quite likely that others think he’s nuts. Nuts or blasphemous, take your pick.
Today, temple-goers have come here to worship the almighty Lord who made the heavens and the earth, just as God’s people have for many centuries. There on the grounds, this Simeon is holding a 40-day-old baby in his arms, guarded by the formidable entourage of, well, a husband and wife so poor they only afford the most modest of sacrifices—two turtledoves.
But today, Simeon isn’t concerned with the Holy of Holies, where the Lord dwells in His glory. He’s staring at the Baby in his arms, and singing the strangest of lullabies: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word…” Like the Baby has words. Like the Baby is in a position to send Simeon along. As if the Baby is the Lord.
We’ve talked about this many times. If you go by your eyes alone, you’re likely to miss the Savior. Go by what the Holy Spirit says into your ears, and there He is. People who are looking for some glorious display of power to prove the presence of God will hustle by the Baby and keep on looking.
But by the faith creating Word of the Holy Spirit, Simeon knows. The flesh and blood he cradles in his arms is the Son of God. He is Immanuel, “God with us,” present with His people as God and man. The Lord is with His people to bring peace, salvation, light, revelation, and glory. Don’t let the hairless head and the tiny toes fool you. This is the almighty Lord of heaven and earth. And though that toothless mouth can’t form words yet, He has been speaking from eternity His plan of salvation. He is there. By faith, Simeon acknowledges His Savior and rejoices in His salvation. He embraces the Word made flesh, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, the Prince of Peace, who reconciles God and man. That’s why he can depart in peace.
Simeon departs in peace. And what happens to this privileged servant of God next? We’re back to “We don’t know,” for he disappears from Scripture. It’s a mystery. Traditionally, we assume he’s an old man who dies and is called to glory soon after. For all we know, he could have forty years of life left before he dies. Maybe a good life, maybe a terrible one by human standards. But Simeon departs in peace because God is faithful. He has kept His promises made through the prophets. The Virgin has conceived and borne a Son. God is with us. The Lord has come to His temple, where Simeon has held and beheld Him.
The prophecies will continue to be fulfilled. The Messiah will make the blind see and the deaf hear, the mute sing and the lame leap for joy. He will be stricken, smitten, and afflicted for our iniquities. He will be the cursed man on the cursed tree crucified with criminals, betrayed by a friend, His bones out of joint, His robe gambled away, buried in a rich man’s tomb, and raised from the dead, His body seeing nor corruption. All this will take place so that other promises of God will be kept: Promises of pardon and peace for the penitent people of God.
God is faithful, and the promises will be kept. That is why Simeon departs in peace. He doesn’t depart to peace. It is not that he faces a rosy, sublime sort of life because he has held the Savior. Whatever other trials lie ahead, he still faces death. He’s still in this sinful world. But he departs in peace. Simeon is at peace because God is faithful. He has sent the Savior. Whatever Simeon faces, he is at peace with God. The Lord has kept His promises, and Simeon knows the end of the story. The end of the story is life everlasting, because the Son has come.
So, taking stock right now, this is what you know about you. You’ve made it this far. And you have no idea what is going to happen to you tomorrow. The Lord could return at any time to take you home. The Lord, may be ready to bestow that long-awaited blessing. The Lord, in His wisdom, might ask you to bear some particular cross. Will this be the day? You just don’t know.
Not knowing leads to all sorts of temptations. You’re tempted to worry. And while a godly concern is good, worry too often turns into doubt of God’s will and faithfulness. You’re tempted to disappointment when things don’t go as you desire. We don’t like not knowing, because not knowing means you have to live by trusting. Faith isn’t natural. In fact, it’s impossible unless it is given by God. But God gives you faith. Today, you stand with Simeon because you behold your Savior. The Holy Spirit has revealed this to you—not through some mystical vision or writing in the sky, but by His holy, inspired Word.
His Word announces to you that the Baby in Simeon’s arms grows up and bears your sins to the cross. That same body is pierced and that blood is shed before He is placed in the tomb. That same Savior, with the same body and blood, is risen again on the third day. And before Jesus ascends into heaven, He speaks of Word and Sacrament, and promises, “I am with you always to the end of the age.”
The Lord is with you in His Word and Sacraments. It was He who washed you clean of sin in the waters of Holy Baptism. It is He, the Word made flesh, who is present in His Word when it is proclaimed. It is He who says to you, “Take and eat, this is My body…take and drink, this is My blood, for the forgiveness of sins.” It’s the same body and blood that Simeon held and beheld. That went to the cross. That rose again. And that ascended into heaven.
Like Simeon, you behold your Savior today. No, you don’t see tiny toes and a hairless head; you observe a middle-aged man preaching and then see bread and wine. But faith tells you this. God keeps His promises. His Son has come, died and risen, as promised. His Son is here, in these means, to forgive, as promised. You know this by faith, not by sight.
It is little wonder, then, that you sing Simeon’s hymn near the end of each communion service. You have heard the Word, and there the Holy Spirit has revealed to you your Savior. You have just received the Lord’s body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, just like Simeon. And just like Simeon, you sing: “Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word. For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people. A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.”
You sing with Simeon because the Savior has come to you, too; and then you depart in peace, though not necessarily to peace. You stand to face some ridicule along the way. If Simeon looks strange as he sings to the Baby, you can be sure you’ll draw criticism for looking for Jesus in, with, and under bread and wine, water and Word. Some will tell you that you’ve lost your religious sanity, if not your salvation. You’re nuts, perhaps even blasphemous, for believing such a real presence. But you know better. Christ is here because He promises, and He always keeps His promises. You have His Word on it, so you depart in peace.  
Not that life will always be peaceful. No, don’t leave here expecting that the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh will go easy on you because you’ve been in the presence of God. This visit of your Savior only enrages these enemies all the more. Don’t hold the Lord to promises He hasn’t made, expecting an easy life in this world as His child. God’s only-begotten Son suffered unimaginably for our sake, and Jesus said that each of His disciples must take up their own crosses for His sake.
You can expect your share of trouble, then. This unholy trinity will work their hardest to convince you that the Savior’s presence at best does you no good, at worst only leads to trouble for you. They will wield their weapons of worry, guilt, anxiety, sickness, grief, and death. They will do their best to crush you. But the truth is that they have been crushed already; crushed by the Son of God whom you behold today. They can make you miserable for a bit, but their days are numbered. In Christ, yours are not. The Lord Himself will return, raise you and all the dead, and take His own to be in His holy presence forever.
Will this be the day? Who knows? But you do know this: The Lord promises that He will indeed work all things for your good, even as He promises that His Son has lived and died for you. No, you don’t know what chapters life still holds; but in Christ, you know the end of the story. And the end of the story is life everlasting. This is why you depart in peace. The One who suffered, died, and rose again is with you, to raise you from your sufferings and death to life everlasting. For His sake, you are forgiven for all of your sins.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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