Jesus’s Birth Helps Us to Die

A New View of Death

There are millions of books on how to live, but very few on how to die. Lots of people want to teach us how to postpone death through healthy living, but very few teach on how to face up to death when healthy living is fading. Even if we do summon up the courage to talk about death, who can we trust on the subject? There aren’t exactly many people who can speak with experience about how to die. Many can help us to live, but who can help us to die?

In Luke 2:21–38, we meet a dying man, Simeon, cuddling a newborn baby that helped him to die. What was it about the new life of baby Jesus that gave Simeon a new view of death?


David Murray

This journey through the book of Luke includes 50 daily devotionals written by David Murray, author of The StoryChanger. Part of the StoryChanger Devotional series, this book features daily readings designed to help you learn, love, and live the Bible. 

Jesus Helps Us Die with His Peace

When Jesus’s parents took him to the temple to present him to the Lord, God arranged for them to meet an old, Spirit-filled believer named Simeon. God had promised Simeon that he would see the Savior before he died, and the Lord led him by the Spirit to meet Jesus that day. When Simeon saw Jesus, he took him up in his arms, blessed God, and said

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. (Luke 2:29–31)

As soon as he saw Jesus’s new life, he had a new view of his death. When he saw the Savior, he saw his own salvation. He could depart in peace because Jesus had given him peace.

Jesus’s birth helps us to die.

What about the darkness of death?

Jesus Helps Us Die with His Light

Death is dark. It’s a gloomy experience for the dying one and for the loved ones. What comes after is dim and mysterious. Why do we have to die? What’s the purpose of death? What’s next? It’s murky, shadowy, somber.

Our hope of life after death is Christ’s life and death.

But not for Simeon. Seeing Jesus turned the lights on. He could depart in peace because Jesus was “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, / and for glory to your people Israel” (2:32). Simeon identified the bright glory cloud that shepherded Israel through the wilderness in the Old Testament as the Son of God he was snuggling in his arms. What was cloud and fire was now flesh and blood. That light of Israel was now being revealed to the Gentiles as well. Jesus replaced the darkness of ignorance, doubt, and depression with the light of knowledge, assurance, and confidence. We now know what’s happening in death, what’s after death, and where we’re going in death.

If that’s the role of Christ’s birth, what about his death?

Jesus Helps Us Die with His Death

Although Jesus came to turn the lights on, many wanted to turn his light off. Simeon predicted that, despite saving others from death, Jesus himself would be put to death. “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” (2:34–35). Simeon looked at this precious baby and saw that a sword would pierce not only his mother’s heart, but his own soul too. However, this sharp blade would separate not only the fibers of his flesh, but also people, by revealing who they truly are before God.

Our hope of life after death is Christ’s life and death.

This article is adapted from Luke: Stories of Mission and Mercy by David Murray.

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