All across the United States, there was great celebration this November when the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series. After 108 years without a championship, 2016 was the year that the Cubs won it all. Stories littered the newspapers of life-long fans who waited their whole lives to finally see the Cubs win the world series. "Now I can die in peace," was a common sentiment.

And some fans did just that. One such fan as Mabel Ball. She was born in 1908, some 2 1/2 months before the Cubs won their second World Series. She saw two world wars, lived through the Great Depression, saw the airline industry come into being, but never saw her favorite team with the World Series.

Although she didn't go to the games, she followed them on the radio for years. She died of a heart attack on November 8, less than a week after the team won their third World Series.

Darel Sterner was born in 1931. He was a well-known barber in the town of West Liberty, Iowa. He was also a long time Chicago Cubs fan. As he cut the hair of his clients, the Cubs were often an item of conversation. Sadly, when the Cubs were in the World Series this fall, he was in hospice care. Shortly after Anthony Rizzo secured the final out of Game 7, Sterner's son whispered into his ear, "They won! The Cubs won the World Series!" Sterner died three hours later.

This Christmas morning, we are going to be looking at a man who waited a long time to see a dream come true. And when it did, he was ready to die in peace. He was ready to turn in his "Just One Before I Die" shirts for a "Goodbye Someday" shirt.

His name is Simeon. His story is told in Luke chapter 2.

Simeon sang one of the Songs of Christmas that we have been looking at this Christmas season. Two weeks ago, we looked at the song of Zechariah. Last week, we looked at the song of Mary. Last night, Christmas Eve, we looked at the song of the Angels. And this morning, we are looking at the song of Simeon.

His song is recorded in verses 29-32. Let's read these verses now.

Luke 2:29-32
"Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel."

Now, like all of the songs we have seen this Christmas season, these words come in context. The context begins back in verse 22, which talks about Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus into the temple in Jerusalem to dedicate him to the Lord as required by the law. This would have taken place some 40 days after Jesus was born.

Luke 2:22-24
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."

Now, unknown to Mary and Joseph were the events taking place behind that scenes at the temple in Jerusalem. Look at verse 25, ...

Luke 2:25
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.

Here we are introduced to Simeon. He is described as a righteous man. That is, one who walked in the ways of God. He is described as a devout man. That is, one whose heart was right with the Lord. In other words, his "righteousness" wasn't merely an external thing that he did. But there was a corresponding heart of reverence in all that he did. He was "waiting for the consolation of Israel" (verse 25). That is, the time of the Messiah. The phrase "consolation of Israel" is a reference back to Isaiah 40, when God would come and comfort his people.

Perhaps you remember those words, ...

Isaiah 40:1-2
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for all her sins.

Isaiah 40 continues on to speak of the forerunner, who would smooth the way for the Messiah to come. Of course, this turned out to be John the Baptist. Isaiah 40 continues to describe the coming of the Lord.

Isaiah 40:9-11
... say to the cities of Judah,
"Behold your God!"
Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

This is what Simeon was waiting for. He was waiting for the time when the Lord would come and help his people. At the end of verse 25, we read that ...

Luke 2:25
... the Holy Spirit was upon him.

That is, he has some sort of spiritual enablement from the Lord. And in this case, it was probably upon the gift of discernment to know when and how it was that the consolation of Israel was coming. This, after all, is what verse 26 is talking about.

Luke 2:26
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.

That is, Simeon would not die until he had seen the dawning of the Messianic age. In some regards, he was like a Chicago Cubs fan who had received the news that he would not die until he saw the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. Can you imagine the anticipation that such a fan would have? Especially in recent years, as the Cubs fan grew in age. "It has been 100 years since they have won the World Series. And I'm 80 years old now. It has to be coming soon! Will this be the year?"

And with each passing year, the anticipation would surely grow. Any disappointments with another losing season would only bring a greater anticipation for the next year. And as Simeon was getting on in years, the anticipation of this prophecy coming to fulfillment was growing larger and larger.

Cubs fans had to wait for 108 years between championships. But for the Jewish people, the wait had been much longer.

Brief history lesson: The Old Testament books were written over a period of 1,000 years beginning with Moses in 1,400 B. C. and ending with Malachi in 400 B. C. Simeon lived near the end of the 400 years. Simeon's hope for the Messiah to come was a wait of some 400 years! Yet, as verse 26 says, ...

Luke 2:26
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.

This was Simeon's hope--that he would lay eyes upon the Messiah before he died! Now, with such a promise from the Lord, we can only imagine of the anticipation that he would have as he came into the temple day after day, wondering if indeed this would the day when he would see the Christ. I'm sure that many days he returned home a bit disappointed that it didn't happen yet But surely, he would be eager for the next day. Perhaps that will be the day.

Finally, the day came in which it did happen: the day when Jesus was brought into the temple to be dedicated to the Lord (verses 22-24). We read of the encounter in verse 27, ...

Luke 2:27-28
And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

And this is the context of his song (or prayer), ...

Luke 2:29-32
"Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel."

We aren't told how Simeon knew that this baby was the Christ. Perhaps, the Holy Spirit gave him a sign, much like the shepherds who were told to go and "find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12). Something like this: "Simeon, today is the day! This morning, around the third hour of the day, you will see a couple coming in to dedicate their first born. They are young. They are from Nazareth. The child's name is 'Jesus.' When you see this child, know that he is the Messiah!"

Perhaps the Holy Spirit told him only when he was helping Mary and Joseph with the dedicatory sacrifices. "Simeon, this is the one! Simeon, this is the Christ!"

Perhaps it was when Mary and Joseph told Simeon of their strange and wonderful story of their angelic visits, of the virgin birth, of their travels to Bethlehem, of the story told them by the shepherds of their angelic encounter. Perhaps it was then that Simeon realized that this baby was like no other.

At any rate, the wait was over! The prophecy was fulfilled. Simeon had seen the Messiah. And now, he was ready to die. That's the point of verse 29, ...

Luke 2:29
"Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;

From this verse, I think that we can safely imply that Simeon was an older man. Young men don't think about their pending death like this. But Simeon was ready to die. His only request was that he might die "in peace."

On the one hand, he was ready to die, because there was nothing left for him to live for. His goal in life had been accomplished. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that "he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ" (verse 26). He had seen the Lord's Christ. And now, he was ready to go because all had been accomplished "according to ... [the] word [of the Lord]" (verse 29).

People are known to do this. They have some goal in mind. They want to live to see a certain age! They want to live to see a historical event. They want to see their see their son get married. They desperately want to see their great grand-child. And so, they press on with life, working hard to live a bit longer until their mission is accomplished. And they are ready to die.

And this is Simeon. He has reached his dream. He is ready to die. But, on a deeper level, I'm sure that Simeon was ready to die because he saw his salvation. In other words, he knew that his salvation was secured through this child. After all, this is the point of the dawning of the age of the Messiah. He is bringing "comfort" to Israel. He is bringing their salvation.

And this is the point of Christmas, is it not? That "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believe in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

And the dawning of this salvation is what he had seen. Indeed, this is where Simeon continues in his song. He says in verse 30, ...

Luke 2:30
for my eyes have seen your salvation

Seeing Jesus was seeing God's salvation. We don't know how much Simeon knew of God's salvation plan. We don't know how much he understood that the Savior was going to suffer for our sake upon the cross. We don't know how much he understood that his sacrifice is sufficient to pay the price for our sins.

But we do see here a faith that Jesus indeed will bring about God's salvation--to Simeon, to Israel, to the world.

In verses 31 and 32, Simeon speaks a bit about his salvation understanding. He says, ...

Luke 2:30-32
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel."

Verse 31 speaks of the sovereignty and clarity of God in preparing the plan. God is the one who has prepared salvation. He has done it for all to see. He revealed himself to the Gentiles. He is glory for the people of Israel.

It is remarkable here that Simeon grasped the far-reaching effects of God's salvation. Many in the Jewish world thought that God was only going to redeem Israel, missing the many Scriptures that expand the plan of salvation to the Gentiles as well.

Scriptures such as Psalm 67, ...

Psalm 67:1-3
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known on earth,
Your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
Let all the peoples praise you!

Scriptures such as ...

Psalm 117:1
Praise the LORD, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!

Scriptures such as ...

Isaiah 11:10
In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples--of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

And indeed, salvation has come to us. Gentiles who were apart from the Lord. We are so used to this that we assume this. Many in Israel didn't see this, but Simeon did. Salvation is for all who believe.

Luke 2:33
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.

Let me ask you: how long do you have to wait to see the Messiah? You don't have to wait. He is here.

This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on December 25, 2016 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see