Today’s title is a phrase often used when someone experiences some great event which they longed to see or participate. It is used after one meets some great athlete, author, or respected person. It is used after one makes a great journey, perhaps to see the land of his birth, Normandy, or climbs Mount Everest.
Most people have no idea the phrase is a paraphrase of a statement made in today’s text. In Luke 2:25-35 we are introduced to Simeon. Though the text does not identify him as such, he was likely a priest. Here’s what we do know–Simeon was a just and devout man who was waiting on the Consolation of Israel.
Who or what was this “Consolation of Israel?” In Isaiah 40 we see a promise to comfort God’s people and a command to speak comfort to Jerusalem (vv 1-2). This is immediately followed with the statement of the coming of the voice crying in the wilderness (John the baptizer, vv 3-4) and the revealing of the glory of the Lord to all men (v 5). So, Simeon was waiting on the coming of the Messiah.
Moreover, he was promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ (Luke 1:26). Being instructed by the Holy Spirit to go to the temple he was approached by Mary and Joseph who had brought Jesus to do the things for Him that were required by the law.
Taking the child Jesus into his arms, he thanked God, saying, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace according to Your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation” (vv 29-30). In other words, “I can die now.”
In similar fashion, no one is prepared to die until they have seen Jesus. By “seen” I do not mean witnessed with one’s own eyes, neither do I mean having some cursory knowledge of who He is. I mean one’s needs to see Jesus in the context of the promise of God, who sent Him into the world as a light to all people (v 32, cf Is 40:5). As Zachariah said of him in Luke 1, “To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins” (v 77).
Only when one sees Jesus in the sense of receiving the remission of sins can he truly say, “I can die now.”