The wonder and joy that surrounds the arrival of a newborn infant is something to behold. When a parent or grandparent gathers up that small bundle for a first look, there is always a sense of awe at the miracle of new life, and the amazing potential that lies in such a tiny and helpless package.
Just such a special scene The Nunc Dimittis took place one day in the city of Jerusalem, when an Lord, now lettest thou thy servant old man named Simeon met a depart in peace according to thy very ordinary-looking young word, couple, with their infant son, in the temple. He was For mine eyes have seen Thy not a grandparent; in fact Salvation: he was not related at all to the couple or their child, Which Thou hast prepared before as far as we know. Yet he the face of all people, was more closely tied to this little baby than to anyone A Light to lighten the Gentiles else in the whole world. and the Glory of Thy people
Israel. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that the child he Glory be to the Father and to the would meet that day would be Son and to the Holy Ghost; the Christ, the Lord and Savior of the entire world. As it was in the beginning, is now, As he took this infant in his and ever shall be, world without arms, he beheld not only the end. Amen. miracle of new life, but the supreme miracle of light and life for the world. The hopes and fears of all people throughout history rested in his arms as he gazed at the tiny face. His heart swelled with joy, and he burst into a psalm of praise — words which are familiar to us in the song which follows our communion liturgy, the “Nunc Dimittis”:
“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” (Lk. 2:29-32).
After waiting for a lifetime to see the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises, one aged man was now ready to leave this world whenever the Lord might call him. His heart was at peace now that he had seen the Child of Hope. By faith he was able to look beyond the poverty and plainness that Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus presented. The Spirit within him testified that this was the Lord’s Christ.
We now know that Simeon’s faith was well-founded. The tiny infant voice that arose from the swaddling clothes belonged to the almighty God who had entered this world to take upon himself a human nature. This was the same voice that would cry out from the cross, under the crushing burden of the sins of the world: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” And then, having paid the full price for our salvation, that same voice would call out in triumph: “It is finished!”
Blessings And Opportunities
How fitting it is that we echo the words of Simeon at the conclusion of our celebration of the Lord’s Supper. For it is there that we personally meet with the Lord Jesus by partaking of His true body and blood. By the work of the Holy Spirit, our eyes see beyond the humble outward form of bread and wine as we recognize the presence of the Savior of all people. The joy of sins forgiven and heaven assured makes us, too, ready to leave this world for the life to come whenever the Lord might call.
But the Lord in His wisdom does not immediately take believers out of this sin-sick world. Instead, He gives them the task of taking this light of the Gospel of Christ to others. When Simeon sang of Jesus as a “light to lighten the Gentiles,” he was referring to all the people who are still in need of a personal encounter with the Child of Hope through the Word of the Gospel.
And that’s where YOU come in. Have you been blessed to see in the Christchild your Savior from sin? Has the light of His Gospel reached your eyes and shown you a clear path to eternal life? Has the message of forgiveness through His death for you on the cross touched your heart? Then consider carefully your assignment, from God Himself, to carry the torch of the Gospel to others:
“So the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth'” (Acts 13:47).
This saving Gospel is a message that the Lord wants to shine in the heart of your neighbor, your co-worker, your friend; and YOU are the best person to show them what this Child of Hope really means to them. The Lord wants this Gospel to shine in your community, and your congregation has the message and the means to make it happen. The Lord wants this Gospel to reach to the ends of the earth, and through your church body you can do your part to see that this work, too, goes forward.
Like aged Simeon, these blessings and opportunities come to us only through the work of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord give us increasing joy as we hold the Child of Hope, the Light of the World, in our hearts. And may we ever hold His Gospel up as a beacon for the world to see, that they may also be drawn to the light of salvation.
–Pastor Bruce Naumann