“At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel… He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!’” (Luke 2:25, 28-32, NLT).
As Mary and Joseph entered the Temple, an old man, a stranger, took Jesus in his arms and began to praise God. Luke, the writer of this gospel, doesn’t tell us much about Simeon except that he was “righteous and devout” and that he was “eagerly waiting for” the arrival of God’s promised Messiah, the one foretold by the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Messiah would deliver God’s people and establish God’s Kingdom. All Jews hoped for the coming of their Deliverer, but God had told Simeon that he would see the Messiah in his lifetime. It must be a surprised for him. Simeon, nonetheless, held on to this promise, so he had his eyes wide open, anticipating his Messiah’s arrival.
Simeon many not have known what age the Messiah would be at their meeting. So he may have been surprised, amazed and thrilled upon learning that this infant was God’s Son. Just imagine how many babies Simeon had seen during this time, but he kept looking and trusting. And when Simeon saw Jesus, he knew this was the One. (I remember reading how John the Baptist responded when he saw Jesus. He said, "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) I wonder how do they know who Jesus really is? God’s Holy Spirit might prompt their hearts and said, ‘Look, Jesus is here.’ Maybe this was why when I first read the Bible and my heart gladdens by God’s Word, I knew that this Jesus is the One.)
After meeting Simeon, Mary and Joseph also encountered Anna. “Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple” (Luke 2:36). This elderly Jewish woman spent most of her days worshipping and praying in the Temple. Seeing Jesus, Anna burst into praise, confirming what Simeon had said about the baby. “She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). As we can certainly understand, “Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him” (2:33) both by Simeon and Anna.
Think about this: We probably won’t find Simeon or Anna in any list of major Bible characters. Yet more than two millennia after this incident in the Temple, we know about them and their faith in God’s promises. God’s Word contains many promises, including God’s continual presence, his sovereignty over world events, his Holy Spirit, his daily care, and his promise of eternal life. During times of conflict, meager resources, loneliness, and suffering, God can seem distant. That’s when we need to cling to the truth that God loves us so much that he sent Jesus Christ, which is, Himself.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
Reference: Life Application Study Bible Devotional: Daily Wisdom from the Life of Jesus (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2011)