Today we hear much about allowing people to die with dignity. One of the purposes of a Hospice is to achieve that objective. I recall a wonderful Christian man, an engineer by profession who at the time worked for Chrysler Motor Company Pretoria, in South Africa. He designed the Valiant Motor Vehicle in South Africa. I was attracted to him as a man because my first car was a Valiant.
He struggled with colon cancer for many years. He had procedure after procedure and eventually he lost the battle, was placed in a Hospice and died with dignity, not because he was afraid of what people saw, but what people heard. The pain was so excruciating that when I visited, he would ask me to excuse myself so that he could battle the pain alone, in dignity. He was one of the great Christian men I knew in my day. He lived for Jesus and could not wait to be with Jesus. This man makes me think of Simeon! Let us take up and read again:
Lu 2:27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
1) Simeon needed to do as the Spirit moved him to do to realize the fulfilment of God’s promise to him. It was not good enough that the Spirit “moved” him, he needed to go to the temple courts where Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus was. There is always God’s part and there is your part. It is no good praying for guidance from the Lord … and Him giving you directions in the Word or through a sermon! You need to respond and do your part … whatever that might be. Far too many think all they need to do is pray and leave it all up to God. That my friends is abusing the good hand of God. You may ask … “well what is my part?” Naturally each prayer and the way to the answer by God making it real is different, by it starts with trust and obedience followed by using the intelligence God gave you … by asking … “is there something God wants me to do to achieve the answer?” Let me provide you with a silly illustration … say you are praying that God will help you lose weight, you cannot sit back and relax as you continue eating all the wrong foods. You need to exercise and change your diet. God will answer your prayer as you obediently trust Him by helping yourself reorder your diet and exercise program. Simeon prayed and trusted and waited on the Lord as he faithfully continued to study God’s Word and pray … as he waited for God’s promise to be fulfilled … but as the Spirit prompted He found himself where he needed to be to see the One who would bring “comfort” to Israel as God’s Messiah. There is always God’s part and there is your part. To ignore your part is not understanding the workings of prayer!
2) Simeon saw, felt and worshipped as God’s promise was realized.
Lk 2:27 When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God.
He would have seen Jesus being carried by either Mary or Joseph. It is unlikely that he would have performed the “customs required by the Law”, but likely because he was a retired priest, he met up with this little family and took the baby in his arms and praised God. There are three important steps here.
(1) Seeing Jesus. We do not see Jesus with the physical eye. Our sight is spiritual. With the spiritual vision we see the Lord!
(2) Feeling Jesus. Simeon took Jesus into his arms, he felt Him. We don’t feel Jesus physically, it is spiritual. We feel in an objective way that He has come to dwell in our hearts by faith.
(3) Praising God. The result of experimental faith is praise. Once the New Birth has taken place, we know we are spiritually alive … we know our sins are forgiven … we know we now belong to God … we know we are going to heaven and have escaped hell. We know these things! Not one needs to tell us this has happened. It has and this is experiential faith which results in the outburst of praise. Thankfulness for such a great salvation finds spiritual ecstasy in the heart. You can’t explain it. You feel it. You know it. You express love, adoration, praise and thanksgiving to Jesus who is now Lord and King of your heart. May I stop here for a while and say that far too many who say they are believers do not have joy in their hearts! Why is this? Is it because they have experienced the outwards, the physical process without the inward, the spiritual dimension being arrested and the soul saved … causing the heart to leap with joy?
Mary was related to Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother. She obviously heard of Elizabeth’s “miraculous” pregnancy and rushed off to see her:
Lk 1:39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Or take the Psalmist acknowledging God’s working for His people:
Ps 126:3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
We shall come to Simeon’s prayer of praise tomorrow, but for today … Simeon was now ready to die. Ready to die with dignity, spiritual dignity. God had allowed him to see and hold the Messiah. God had made a promise and fulfilled that promise. Not only could he die with spiritual dignity … God honored His Word, he could die praising God … who is faithful! If you are a believer today you are able to exit this life in such as way too. God promised you that when you believe in Jesus you shall be saved and escape perishing. You have believed. You have been saved. You are able to die with dignity, whichever way is shall be because you will die in Christ and be raised in Him too.
Thank You Lord that You honor Your Word because You alone are the Faithful One. Now we too can die in Your goodness. Amen.