When I was a kid I always had a healthy fear of death. Mr. Clark was a dear man in my church who served as my Sunday School teacher for years. Bless his heart for putting up with me year after year. One question Mr Clark asked us each Sunday began to resonate with me. “If you walked out of here and were hit by a dump truck, do you know where you’d go?” Two things at this point in my life started to happen: One, I began to think about my life and the reality of dying. Two, I started to have an incredible fear of dump trucks! Let’s just say I started to pay close attention when crossing the street. Now that I think about it, maybe it wasn’t necessarily a healthy fear.
During those years I would look ahead at major event coming up and pray, “God, please, just let me live till then, after that, do what you want.” I can remember stepping foot onto Main Street U.S.A. at Walt Disney World as a kid, and thinking, Okay God, I can die now…but not after I experience this incredible place! In my eight-year-old mind I can remember thinking, maybe this is heaven…
Introducing Simeon and Anna
Although Luke 2 is traditional known for the narrative of Jesus’ Birth (2:1-20), there’s so much more I want you to see in this historic chapter, particularly the story of Simeon and Anna.
We don’t know what Simeon did for a living, some scholars speculate that he was a priest, others believe he was just a common man. What we do know about Simeon, however, says a lot about his character.
Luke 2:25 (NLT) He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel.
Another thing to note about Simeon is that the Holy Spirit was not only upon him, but communicated that he wouldn’t die until he had seen the Messiah.
Could you imagine Simeon’s sense of anticipation? Everyday when he went to the Temple I’m sure he looked at all the eight day old babies thinking, is this the one? Today would be different. Today, Simeon would be led by the Spirit into the Temple court where he saw a young couple walk into the Temple to present their child.
While we don’t know what Simeon’s profession was, we are told that Anna was a prophet. Although there were times that prophets spoke about future events, prophets were not meant to “tell the future.” Instead, we need to remember that prophets had one responsibility, to be the mouthpiece of God. Prophets, both in the Old Testament and New were used by God to be His voice and speak His truth to the world around them.
Like Simeon, Luke wants us to know more about Anna’a character:
Luke 2: 36-37 (NLT) 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. 37 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.
It’s important to note that her husband died only seven years into the marriage. So this means that since Anna never remarried, she spent the majority of her life devoted to worshiping God through fasting and prayer. The phrase, “she never left the Temple,” could easily be confused with a physical location, but what Luke is doing is trying to communicate that, for Anna, her devotion was her occupation.
A Prophecy Fulfilled
Both Simeon and Anna had incredibly important things to say about Jesus and confirmed what Mary and Joseph were learning: Truly He, meaning Jesus, is the Son of God. While Anna told everyone who was, “waiting expectantly for God to rescue Israel, that He had arrived, It’s the word’s of Simeon I want to focus on in closing.
I Can Die Now
Think about and picture with me the moment Simeon held Jesus in his arms. Simeon had been waiting with eager anticipation for this…very…moment. As he hold baby Jesus in his arms, looking into the very face of God, these are the words of his prayer.
Luke 2:29-32 (NLT)
29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
30 I have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared for all people.
32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Simeon looked around and said to God, Okay God, I can die now, “I have seen your salvation.” Like Simeon, when you look into the face of Jesus, you not only see God, but you see His salvation. The child born and presented in the Temple that day was no ordinary baby. Anna saw it, Simeon saw it, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, they all knew it, but the question for us is, do we see it?
What We Can Learn from Simeon and Anna
Simeon and Anna have a lot to teach us today. Because of who they were, God blessed them with his provision and presence. For us, we too can be challenged to live with the same devotion and sense of anticipation.
What do you anticipate today? Do you anticipate, or “eagerly await” the return of Jesus, as much as Simeon and Anna eagerly awaited his arrival? Have you devoted a time to fasting and praying to God?
We have an opportunity to be counted as righteous in God’s sight. Among thousands upon thousands of people who missed the birth of Christ, stands people like Simeon and Anna who didn’t. They didn’t because they were ready. Are you?