When Jesus Entered My World | Simeon & Anna
What is more beautiful than happy old people? Right? When Jesus was dedicated at the Temple, two older people who had eagerly been waiting for the Messiah to come were drawn to the 40-day old Jesus. In Him, they saw the fulfilment of all God has promised, even though He was still a small baby!
This is the third and last message in the “When Jesus Entered My World” series where we look at some of the scene’s around the birth of Jesus. Today we discuss a scene that is often overlooked because it is not part of the traditional nativity picture, but still a very significant occasion.
According to Jewish customs, a boy needed to be circumcised on the 8th day, then after 40 days, there needed to be a purification for the mother since labor had made her unclean. Also, the firstborn son needed to be dedicated to the Lord. We discuss the scene today where Joseph and Mary come to the Temple with Jesus for that purification and the dedication.
When they are at the Temple, they meet two older people Simeon and Anna.
Luke 2:25-39 (NLT)
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. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there.
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!”
Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
Is there anything more beautiful than happy old people? Right? In this passage we see two older people’s reactions to encountering Jesus as a baby of just 40 days old.
We are first going to explore the significance of their words and reactions, and seek to apply this to our own lives.
A Hope Fulfilled
What we see in the responses of both Simeon and Anna is that they had eagerly expected a fulfilment of the Old Testament promises of a Messiah. “Now I can finally die in peace” says Simeon. Apparently, for him, it was enough to know that the Messiah was born, He didn’t also have to see Him at work to understand Him as the fulfilment of all God had promised.
I love this about his whole response. He praises God as if the complete fulfilment of his prayers and the prophetic expectation had already come, while holding a 40-day old baby. Jesus hadn’t healed anyone yet. When Jesus little hand grabbed Simeon’s old wrinkly finger, his backache didn’t miraculously disappear. None of that. In fact, the Word of God that became flesh couldn’t even speak yet…
But Simeon had been expecting the Messiah so eagerly, that he was able to recognize Him immediately. He saw the realization of everything he had hoped and prayed for, even in its smallest and most fragile form. Dear friends, that’s faith!
The same counts for Anna. She spent every day in the Temples, for many decades already, praying and fasting for her people and for her city. She knew that God was planning to send a Savior, and she was praying night and day that this would happen soon. She knew, in the turbulent times she was living in, that salvation could only come from the Lord.
She as well was drawn to Jesus and doesn’t need much convincing to start sharing with everyone with this same expectation that their hopes had been fulfilled.
Praying with expectation
What are you praying for in this time? And when you pray, do you expect your prayers to be fulfilled? Do you expect God to move in your life? Are you asking Him to intervene in some way, to stir something up in you, or to lead you to something?
An important key to our prayers, and seeing God move in our lives, is expectation. When your heart is full of this expectation, you will immediately recognize when God is beginning to fulfil His promises – even when it’s still small and fragile.
We are now in another season of lockdown. I hate it. I think we all do. I thought it would be over by now.
Can I encourage you yet again to push into all that God has for you? To seek Him in the silence. To ask Him to do a new work in you?
A Prophecy Given
The second thing that stands out in this passage is what Simeon says to Mary and Joseph about Jesus. He announces not just that his Messianic hopes have been fulfilled, but also that this Messiah would come to bring a separation between the faithful and unfaithful, and that there would be opposition and suffering involved.
“This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
For you and me, as frequent readers of the New Testament, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. We know the division that Jesus caused, the opposition He endured, and we know that Mary would later stand at the foot of the cross watching her son endure excruciating pain, which is described here as a sword piercing the soul.
Yet, these are still very hard words to receive. Jesus is a stumbling block for many. As much as our hopes and expectations are fulfilled in Him, not everyone recognizes this, and still today, the very name of Jesus causes many to opposition.
Receive or resist
It all comes down to whether you receive Jesus or resist Him.
The reason why many Israelites would fall instead of rise, is because the Messiah that came wasn’t the Messiah they expected. He didn’t fit their box! They ended up rejecting the one God had sent to save them.
Yet, Christ offered Himself to everyone. He came, humble and fragile to a world He knew for the most part would reject Him. It didn’t hold Him back to offer Himself completely.