In Luke’s Gospel we read about two elderly people who loved God, served Him with all their hearts, and looked forward to the coming of the promised Messiah. Luke 2:22-24 tells us that the baby Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day after His birth in obedience to the Law of Moses. Then after the time of purification, which is thirty-three days for a male child according to Leviticus 12, if the child is the first-born, he was to be brought to the temple to be dedicated to God. So the baby Jesus was about six weeks old when his parents brought Him to the temple for His dedication, and they also brought two turtle doves as a sacrifice to the Lord.
SIMEON (Luke 2:25-35)
In Luke 2:25 we are told about Simeon. He was “a righteous and devout man, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Verse 26 says that the Holy Spirit revealed to him “that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” The word “Christ” means “the Anointed One”, the “Messiah”. Verse 27 tells us that it was the Holy Spirit who led Simeon to go to the temple at the very time when Mary and Joseph were bringing the baby Jesus to the temple to dedicate Him to God. Simeon was given the ability to recognize that this baby was the Messiah, and as he holds the baby Jesus in his arms, his heart is filled with joy and his words of gratitude are very moving as he says, “Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for my eyes have seen Thy salvation.” The sight of the baby Jesus in his arms made possible Simeon’s joyful departure from this world.
Jesus’ presence with us today is also real, giving us strength for service, and taking the fear out of dying for those who have put their faith in Him. I have seen humble believers leave this world with peace, joy, and radiant hope on the faces because they knew that the Lord Jesus was with them and was taking them home to be with Him. Even martyrs have been able to sing while being burned at the stake.
Simeon’s words that follow in verses 31-35 causes us to realize that Simeon knew that this baby Jesus would someday provide salvation by suffering and dying for our sins. Simeon also prophesied that Jesus would be a Savior to both Jews and Gentiles, and that Mary’s soul would be pierced by a sword of sorrow at her Son’s death. Like Simeon, we too must look to Jesus for our salvation. Like Simeon, we too can rejoice even in the face of death if we know Jesus as our Savior and Lord. So don’t let hardship and trials rob your Christmas of its deeper joy.
ANNA THE PROPHETESS (verses 36-38)
While Simeon was holding the baby Jesus in his arms, someone else was there in the temple, and she came forward to see the baby Jesus. Her name was Anna and she was a prophetess of God. If you add up the numbers in verses 36 and 37 you will find that Anna was over a hundred years old. Verse 37 says that she “never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.” Her entire life was devoted to prayer. What an example she is to us all!
Anna instantly knew that this baby was the Messiah and she immediately gave fervent thanks to God. But Anna didn’t stop there. Verse 38 says that Anna “continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” She became a ready and willing witness for Jesus Christ, and probably prepared many to follow Him thirty years later when Jesus began His public ministry. The affects of her witness for Christ continued long after her lifetime here on this earth.
Like Anna, may we pause to reflect upon, and give thanks for, the One who came as a baby in order to save us from the penalty of our sins. Also, like Anna, let us ask God for opportunities to share the saving work of Christ with others during this Christmas season, so that they too might experience the true and lasting joy of Christmas, and have the peace of heart that only Jesus Christ can give. During this season of the year when depression and suicides are at their highest, may we radiate the love of Christ, and be ready to give a reason for the hope and joy that is in us.