“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 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, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “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 2:25-33
Simeon is “righteous and devout”, and he is waiting. Promised by the Spirit that he won’t die before he sees the Messiah, we’re led to believe that he’s an older man. In reality, whether he waited 5 years or 50 years, the magnitude of the promise must have made the waiting feel like a very long time.
Think about the sense of anticipation Simeon must have had for each day… We aren’t told at what point in Simeon’s life this promise was made, but can you just imagine the curiosity with which you’d encounter your life after this type of promise? Did he wonder if the birth of the Messiah would happen in his own family? Did he keep up with young couples in his community, wondering if the baby they would birth would be the Christ?
It’s hard to imagine the joy, excitement, and sense of fulfillment that he must have felt on the day he walked into the temple and encountered Mary, Joseph, and Jesus – the Messiah who had not only been promised to the Jewish people, but the Messiah who had been promised to him personally. I love the picture Luke paints for us of this old man, taking the baby Jesus “up in his arms” as he praises God, blesses his parents, and even foreshadows what is to come. Simeon’s declaration that this child will be a “light for revelation to the Gentiles” is no small statement either. Already, God’s plan for ALL people to be drawn to Himself, saved, and play a role in His kingdom is being made known.
After holding the Christ-child in his arms, Simeon is at peace – ready to “depart in peace” after all of his waiting and anticipating.
“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:34-38
Anna wasn’t especially drawn to the temple that day, it was just her regular habit to be there. She is 84 years old and she has been a widow for many of those years, only married for seven of them. She doesn’t depart from the temple, but worships with “fasting and prayer night and day.”
Luke isn’t clear about whether she was specifically waiting for the Messiah to appear at the temple, and we’re not aware of any promises the Holy Spirit has made to her about seeing Him, but it’s clear that this woman knew God and worshipped Him regularly. She would have known the Old Testament prophecy and would have been waiting in a general sense for the One who had been promised.
I love the way Luke describes her entrance into the scene because it’s a typical day for her. “Coming up at that very hour…” And though she may not have been promised she would see Messiah before her death, she immediately recognizes what’s going on! Immediately she begins praising God and telling others about the “redemption of Jerusalem.”
In other words, though this is the very beginning of something new and wonderful, she knows how this story will play out. She has known and studied the Old Testament prophets. She understands the significance of the promised Messiah and she is confident in what His advent will bring to His people. No questions asked, she begins telling everyone who is waiting what is happening and what is coming. She may be advanced in years, but this woman knows her stuff!
What a joy for this faithful woman to SEE the fulfillment of more than 400 years of promise.
What about you, friend?
What about me?
Do we share any characteristics with these two saints?
Are we anticipating Christ’s return like Simeon did His first coming? Not that I’ve been promised to see His return before my natural, physical death, but am I anticipating it at all? Are we savoring the waiting? Knowing with full confidence that what God has promised about Jesus’ return is true and banking on it for every motive, decision, action, and interaction with the people around us?
Do we worship God with the fervor of Anna so that when He moves, we recognize it immediately? Are we so dedicated to fasting and praying and being in God’s house that we can explain to others what happens when God shows up? Do we sense it ourselves when He moves?
Christmas is two days away and there is so much to celebrate! But, as you see your family, travel, unwrap gifts, eat, sing, and love each other, let’s also anticipate Christ’s return and worship Him with new eyes. The consolation of Israel has arrived, just as God promised He would! Salvation for all people, a light for the Gentiles and glory for Israel, the redemption of Jerusalem!
Glory to God in the highest.