************ Funeral Sermon on Luke 2:29-30 ************


By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman


This sermon was preached on November 5, 2007


Scripture: Luke 2:21-35
Text: Luke 2:29-30
Title: "Ready to Die"

I Not Ready to Die
A I had many opportunities to talk with Andy the last couple of months. When we first talked about his cancer he told me he was not ready to die. When I asked why not, he told me he enjoyed life too much.

Andy did enjoy life, didn't he? He enjoyed his family. He enjoyed fishing it seems every time he stuck a hook in the water he would catch some prize-winning fish. He enjoyed travel. He enjoyed business. He enjoyed buying cars and shipping them all over the world. He enjoyed talking about government bureaucracy. He enjoyed friends. He enjoyed adventure. He enjoyed playing cards. He enjoyed talking about his years in the Dutch army in Indonesia. He enjoyed making new friendships; as his obituary put it, he knew no strangers.

Andy looked forward to each day so did not want to die.

B Simeon, the man in our Scripture reading, also does not want to die. He is looking forward to something and until it happens he is not ready to go.

Listen to what Scripture says about Simeon. As I read, listen for why Simeon is not yet ready to die:
(Luke 2:25-26) Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. (26) It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
Do you hear why Simeon is not ready to die? He is "waiting for the consolation of Israel." He is waiting to see "the Lord's Christ." In fact, he is promised to see the Lord's Christ before he dies.

So, I can imagine that Simeon wakes up each day wondering: Is this the day? Is this the day I will see the Lord's Christ? Is this the day I will see the consolation of Israel? Is this the day I have been waiting and longing and praying for? Until it happens Simeon is not ready for death.

II Ready to Die in Peace
A When we look at our text we suddenly see that Simeon, who earlier is not ready to die, is now ready to die and even waiting to die. Simeon is ready to die, he even wants to die, because he knows exactly what is going to happen to him. He says,
(Luke 2:29) Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.
"Let me die," he says. "Let me die in peace."

"Peace" can mean many things. The goal of the Middle-East peace talks is a state of tranquility between Israel and her neighbors so that they will no longer face the rage and havoc of war. When there is trouble in a marriage, a counselor aims for harmony between the partners. George Bush wants security, safety, and prosperity for America before next year's elections. The peace that Simeon speaks of here is none of these. Rather, he speaks of the blessed state of devout and upright men in the presence of God after death.
In his book "The Best is Yet to Be", Henry Durbanville told the story of a man who lay dying and was fearful, even though he was a born-again Christian. He expressed his feelings to his Christian doctor. The physician was silent, not knowing what to say. Just then a whining and scratching was heard at the door. When the doctor opened it, in bounded his big, beautiful dog, who often went with him as he made house calls. The dog was glad to see his master. Sensing an opportunity to comfort his troubled patient, the doctor said, "My dog has never been in your room before, and he didn't know what it was like in here. But he knew I was here, and that was enough. In the same way, I'm looking forward to heaven. I don't know much about it, but I know my Savior is there. And that's all I need to know!"

"Let me die in peace," says Simeon. Simeon knows that there awaits him life with Jesus and in Jesus.

B We expect the old to die. Some of the apocryphal books tell us Simeon was 112 when he died; the death of someone that age does not surprise us. We even expect someone Andy's age to die. But death seems to be a cruel thief when it takes someone who is young. Carl Jung said that the death of someone who is not old is "a period placed before the end of the sentence." It is something that we think should never happen. Yet, it does happen all too frequently. And, it could happen with any of us as well.

Let me ask you this question: when you die, do you know what will happen to you? Do you know if you will die in peace?

I want to tell you the family and friends of Andy Jacobi that he died in peace.

III Because He Knows Jesus
A Most people fight death right to the end. Yet, Simeon can ask to die in peace. How come? What's the reason? The rest of our text tells us:
(Luke 2:29-30) Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. (30) For my eyes have seen your salvation ...

Do you know when Simeon says this? He says this in the Temple while holding the Christ-child, the baby Who was laid in the manger. Simeon was "moved" or "led" by the Spirit to go to the Temple to see the Christ. In entering the Temple, he sees Joseph and Mary with the Child. Somehow he knows that baby Jesus is the Savior, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ-child.

Simeon holds the Christ-child in his arms and he prays for death. His life's dream has been fulfilled. His life's mission has been realized. His work is now completed. The Messiah has come, Simeon has seen him, and now he can die in peace.
(Luke 2:29-30) Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. (30) For my eyes have seen your salvation ...

Take note of that last phrase: "your salvation." Simeon is able to die in peace because he has seen God's salvation. Simeon realizes salvation is not up to him. Simeon realizes he can not earn salvation. Simeon realizes he is not worthy of salvation. Simeon realizes salvation is all of God and from God and to God. There is a song we sing that gets to the heart of this:
Not what my hands have done
can save my guilty soul;
not what my toiling flesh has borne
can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do
can give me peace with God;
not all my prayers and sighs and tears
can bear my awful load.
The only one Who brings us peace is Christ. The only thing that gives us peace is the cross of Christ. The only work that earns peace is the work of Christ. He is our peace because He is God's salvation. It is not up to us. It is never up to us.

One time when Andy and I talked about death, Andy mentioned he had regrets about some things in his life (don't we all?). I told him that he needed to stop looking at himself and look instead to the finished work of Christ upon the cross. I pressed upon him the claims and the promises of the Gospel. I told him, over and over again, that if you repent of your sins and believe in Jesus, then God forgives you and saves you and calls you home at death. I told him to look to Jesus.

It is not Andy's work but God's work that counts; it is God's salvation that gives us peace. So look to Jesus.

B Of course, not everyone who has seen the Messiah can die in peace. Herod and Pilate saw Jesus and they did not die in peace. The Pharisees and Sadducees saw Jesus and the bulk of them also did not die in peace. The crowds of Palm Sunday and Good Friday saw Jesus and most of them did not die in peace either.

Some who see Jesus die in peace and others who see Jesus die to everlasting hell fire. But, then, Simeon predicted this would happen: "This child," he said, "is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel" (Lk 2:34). Some will fall to their doom because of Christ and others will be raised to everlasting glory because of Christ. Why? What's the difference?

The only difference between the two is faith.

By grace, Simeon sees Jesus and believes He is the Messiah. By grace, Simeon sees Jesus and believes He is the Savior. "Let me die in peace," says Simeon, "for my eyes have seen your salvation ..."

Those who have met Jesus, those who know Jesus, those who believe in Jesus, can die in peace. We know that Andy Jacobi, by grace, believed in Jesus so it is safe to say that he died in peace.

Conclusion
(Luke 2:29-30) Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. (30) For my eyes have seen your salvation ...
Can you say that? You can, IF you know Jesus. I urge you, like Simeon, to believe in Jesus as the Savior. I urge you, like Andy, to believe in Jesus as the Savior. Do it before it is too late. Then someday you too can say, "Let me die, Lord. Let me die in peace."
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