Nunc Dimittis: “Now You Let Depart.”
by Todd Crouch
Published on May 18, 2023
Categories: Spiritual Growth

Nunc Dimittis: “Now You Let Depart.”

by Todd Crouch

“From His birth and infancy, our Lord Jesus Christ was demonstrating His place as the One who would accomplish everything needed for our salvation”

We can read of the Presentation of our Lord at the Temple at Jerusalem   in the Gospel of St. Luke. Luke 2:22-40

 Under the Old Covenant a woman was considered to be ceremonially unclean for 40 days after giving birth, in which case she was unable to enter the Temple and join in the worship of God.

At the end of this period, she would come to the Temple and be declared “purified “and again be able to join in the community worship. This is part of what we are reading about here when Joseph and Mary come to the Temple, with Jesus.

Purified and Presented

But in the Gospel account we see more than just the completion of Mary’s purification. Joseph and Mary have brought Jesus with them, Jesus, being the firstborn is to be dedicated to the service of God under the terms of the Old Covenant.

“Because all the Firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the Firstborn of the Land of Egypt I hallowed to me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and animal, they will be mine: I AM the Lord” Number:3:13

  “Consecrate to me every firstborn male; the Firstborn of every womb among Israel belong to me, man or animal” Exodus: 13:2     

What we witness, thru St. Luke’s account, is two events, Mary’s “Purification” which allows for her to be readmitted into the worship in the Temple. She now, due to the purification offering, has the right to be there in the Temple, and along with her purification we see the dedication of Jesus who is the firstborn of all firstborn and His consecration, 40 days after His birth, to be a servant of the Most High God.

The Consecration scarifies and the presentation of the firstborn, were conducted at the Temple in Jerusalem.

“And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, [Mary and Joseph] brought [Jesus] 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.” Luke: 2:22

Law Fulfilled by Jesus

  1. Luke makes sure in his Gospel that part of what we see here fulfills the Law of Moses. This speaks of what Jesus came to do for each and all what we could never have done ourselves. Jesus is working out our salvation even as an infant.

Even his circumcision on the eighth day, we see Jesus, shedding his blood, looking ahead to the cross still 33 years in his future. Now the presentation on the 40th day, when Jesus enters first enters the Temple Jesus is fulfilling the Law of God on all of our behalf.

This Jesus did, and continued to do all His life right up to the cross. But Jesus’ life, in every way fulfilled the Law the way it was meant to be, even as an infant.

Jesus makes sure that we all are “purified” and able to join in the community worship of the Great God, it is all through Him we are made pure, and able to approach the Great God.

“so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault” Philippians  2:15a

But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians: 2:13

The Consecration

The consecration of the firstborn began with the Exodus and the plague of the death of the firstborn of the Egyptians, which God placed on Egypt. This was the 10th and last plague, which resulted in the freeing of Israel from captivity.

The Israelites, whose homes were marked with the blood of the lamb, were spared and the angel of death passed over them. The firstborn of Israel was spared. Because of that, from that time forward all the firstborn sons of Israel now were to be set apart, holy, consecrated to the service of the Lord. This law applied to all tribes of Israel. The firstborn sons of all twelve tribes were to be set aside for the Lord’s service.

The Priesthood

God had established the Levites as the priesthood tribe before God in Israel but the law provided an exemption. The Levites took the place for all those firstborn sons in the service of the Lord. The Levites were the tribe who served at the tabernacle and later at the temple of God

The priesthood came from the tribe of Levi. But for the firstborn sons from all the other tribes, the parents would offer up a sacrifice at the Temple so that released their sons from that obligation.

This part of what Joseph and Mary were doing at the Temple for their firstborn son, since they were not Levites but from the tribe of Judah. From which of Judah kings came.

Jesus was born from the tribe of Judah; however, he also is a firstborn, which means he is consecrated to the service of God, at his presentation at the Temple on the 40th day.

 Jesus the Priest of God

Even though Jesus in not of Levi, and even though the sacrifice is offered to release him from priestly service, he still is holy, set apart, consecrated to God. Regardless of what tribe he was born from. Jesus’ life was consecrated to Lord’s service even in His infancy.

Jesus offers the greatest priestly service of all for all, when he offered up his own life as the perfect sacrifice for all sin. His body and His blood are the offering, whole and holy and complete.

When we see Jesus is presented at the Temple, on the 40th day, as the firstborn, this is a foreshadowing of His entire priestly service for all of us.

33 years later, on Calvary, Jesus would shed his blood on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for all humanity, fulfilling the Law in our stead, bringing forgiveness and salvation us.

Death passes over us because we are marked with the blood Jesus the Lamb of God. All this is taking place when this Jesus firstborn son is presented at the Temple of God at Jerusalem.

Simeon and Anna

At The Temple, there were two persons who served God, Simon and Anna, and seeing Jesus at the time of his presentation discerns this. The Holy Spirit spoke to them and reveals this truth, that this child, Jesus, is the Savior who has come to fulfill the all-Messianic prophecies given to Israel, this is the One, which they waited for and hoped for, the One who bring Salvation.

Not only is Jesus the great High Priest, greater than any from the tribe of Levi, He is also the great King from the tribe of Judah, the Messiah, the Christ.  Simeon and Anna can see this. This truth was revealed to Simeon and Anna by a special work of the Holy Spirit. They see Jesus, and they recognize the Savior, the fulfillment of what they had been waiting for.

“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. 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. 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. . . . Luke: 2:25-28

Jesus is the great High Priest, above any from the tribe of Levi; He is also the promised King from the tribe of Judah, the Messiah, and the Christ. Simeon and Anna see this.”

Simeon was waiting for the “Consolation of Israel.” “Consolation” is a word means “comfort.”

Isaiah 40:2– 
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, and that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”

Simeon had been watching and waiting for, looking for, longing for. The Lord had showed that Simeon that he would not die until he saw the consolation come in the person of Jesus, the Messiah. Now here was that One, finally, Simeon sees Him, in the person of the infant Jesus now brought into the Temple courts, the long-awaited Messiah!

Then Simeon with, Jesus in his arms and exclaims: “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. Luke: 2:29-32

Nunc Dimittis

The declaration of Simeon has come into the liturgy of the Church as the Hymn called the Nunc Dimittis, which means “Now You Let Depart.”

Often this hymn is sung it after the sharing of the Communion after we encounter the Lord Jesus, when we take him into our arms, that is embrace Him personally, we can now to depart in peace just as Simeon declared he was able to do, we have now no fear, even departing this life. When we come to believe in Jesus, our lives have accomplished everything a human life was intended to accomplish.

Simeon held Jesus in his arms and beheld with his own eyes, the Lord’s salvation in the person of the Jesus. When we come to believe in Jesus, we express it though sharing the Lord’s Supper, the Communion, we are truly ready and able “to depart in peace”.

Simeon declared openly that this child is the salvation God has prepared “in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

For all peoples, all nations, not just Israel, will be blessed in and by Jesus’ coming. Gentiles will come to see the light.

Darkness of the Cross

This glorious salvation and light came through suffering and darkness of the cross there at Calvary. The shadow that shrouded the world, as Jesus was upon the Cross accomplishing our salvation and redemption is foreshadowed at His presentation.

Simeon tells Mary she will have grief, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke: 2:34-35

Jesus faced great opposition in His ministry. He was be spoken against by the religious leaders of the day the Scribe and Pharisee and Sadducees, the Chief Priest and Elders of people. They conspired against Jesus to stop him and to have Jesus killed.

The death of Jesus, Mary’s firstborn son, was like a sword piercing Mary’s soul, bring great grief, as she stood at the cross and sees Jesus dying.

This is the only way that our salvation could be accomplished for us. It would take the death of God’s only begotten Son come in the flesh, Mary’s firstborn son, to accomplish it for us.

Only Jesus’ holy blood alone.  Jesus’ priestly service of offering up the perfect sacrifice himself would accomplish it. His life could never have ended any other way.

The cross was the logical conclusion to a life based on complete conformity to the will of God; the cross declares that Jesus would rather die, than found outside the will of God.

Jesus’ sacrifice was not just one day at Calvary, but rather, Jesus scarified his whole life, His Whole life. All His Life, All His Life. Jesus was fully consecrated to his Father. That day at the Temple, and at Calvary years latter   only shows what has always been true.

Jesus’ Sacrifice is more than enough, to accomplish our salvation. We are saved from eternal death and condemnation. We are saved for life and peace with God and eternal life beyond the confines of this world in Eternity. This is the consolation of Israel that Simeon and all of us are waiting for it found in Jesus alone.

For the power of the blood is found in the value of the life that it sustains, the blood of Jesus sustained the life of God in the flesh, therefore His life as fully God, is more valued than the sum total of all humanity, but being fully human could die for all humanity. John: 1:1-3,14; and Colossians 2:9

Now Anna

Prophetess Anna was one the other saint of God. Scripture tells us that Anna was among those “waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” “Redemption” meaning being set free, liberated.

Anna as well sees our Redeemer, our liberator, in the child Jesus. Jesus Christ is our Lord who has redeemed all of us lost and condemned humanity, purchased and won for us freeing us from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil.

He brought this redemption by his holy blood and his perfect innocent suffering and death. This redemption Jesus has won for us is, eternal life in the kingdom of God.

Like Anna, we too will begin to give praise and thanks to God and to speak to others about Jesus.

Consolation and redemption, salvation and peace. All of these Jesus brought with Him when He enters the Temple for his Presentation. Jesus is the firstborn, the High Priest, and the Messiah. In the Temple, even in the Church, the people of God, his Temple, we still find the same Jesus and so we receive his blessings.

Jesus is here in the Church, the Temple, that the firstborn Son is still being presented to and for us, and so we all can sing the Hymn Nunc Dimittis with Simeon “Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation.”

Benediction: May we all see the salvation in the face of the Holy Son of God and know that because of Jesus we can be at peace, today, tomorrow and forevermore Amen,

Todd Crouch is Currently the Pastor of the Topinabee Community Church, in Topinabee, MI. He Was the Long Time Host of The Fountain of Life Broadcast, which was aired and on RKP Radio in Washington, PA and streamed around the world. He is a Fourth Degree Master Rank Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and is a certified Tae Kwon Do instructor of Moke’s Martial Arts—Asian American Martial Arts Alliance. Todd studied Theology and Pastoral Ministry at Grace Communion Seminary. He is also a student of Church History, the America Civil War and Scottish History. He and his wife love to travel and the beach. They live in the Straits Area of Michigan. View Todd’s complete profile

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