Learning From Two Senior Moments
Simeon and Anna
Well, I have had a few “senior moments”. Many of you have also. Things like going to a room in the house looking for something and, upon arriving in the room, drawing a blank when it comes to remembering what you were looking for. Hopefully, though, I will be able to get through this article without having another. But not all senior moments are of the “absent mindedness” variety. There are definitely good ones too. Lucid wisdom and experienced insights, and for the faithful, calm assurance and confidence.
After the days of purification, Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the temple. He was received there by an elderly prophet and then by an elderly prophetess. The Bible records little about these two people. However, it reveals that they had awaited the coming of the Christ and had lived righteous lives.
“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking 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 carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.' And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, 'Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed -- and a sword will pierce even your own soul -- to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." (Luke 2:25-35).
Simeon is described as “righteous and devout”. He was looking for the “consolation of Israel” which refers to the coming of the Messiah and Redeemer. The Bible says that “the Holy Spirit was upon him" and had revealed to him that he would not die until he saw the Christ.
It was possible for people to be righteous, even under the old covenant. Not a perfect righteousness as God is righteous, but a righteousness derived by faith in God which brings forgiveness of sin through the sacrifice yet to be made on the cross (Romans 3:23-28). Not only Simeon, but David is another example of this righteousness (Romans 4:6-8). To be justified by works one must never sin, but to be justified by faith one who has sinned and has become unrighteous must be forgiven. Simeon was righteous because he had been justified, not because he had been perfect. That is why he was so eager for the Savior to come. He needed what Jesus would one day do for him and the world.
God again kept His promise. Simeon had lived to see the Messiah come. We can always count on God to fulfill His word (2 Corinthians 1:18-20). God kept His promise to the nation of Israel (vs.32) and to Simeon (vs. 29-30).
Note Simeon's prayer in vss. 28-35. First, his attitude is one of humility as seen in his words "Thy bond-servant" (vs. 29). Also, his faith and contentment are seen in his readiness to leave this world (vs. 29).
Simeon stated that the Christ was "salvation" and that He had come “to the Gentiles”. He said that the Christ was the "glory of Thy people, Israel" and had been “appointed for the rise and fall of many in Israel” and “a sign to be opposed.” To Mary, speaking of the sorrow she would one day experience at the cross, he said that "a sword will pierce through your own soul also."
God told Jews that the Christ would bless the nations (Gentiles), but the Jews did not fully understand this, or accept it. Many of them preferred to think of the coming Redeemer as belonging only to Israel (Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 2:2; 49:6; Acts 10:14,28).
Also see how ready Simeon was to die and go home to be with God. Righteous people are prepared for death and victory (Revelation 14:13; Romans 14:8; Hebrews 6:11).
“And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38).
Anna is described as being a “prophetess” meaning, like Simeon, she had been given a message from God. She was "advanced in years" -- 84 years old to be exact. She had lived with her husband only seven years after her marriage and then lived as a widow for many years. Anna, like Simeon and others, was looking for the redemption of Israel.
The Bible says that she worshipped "night and day". The Bible contains plenty of examples of men and women of all ages serving God faithfully and zealously. Here's what Anna (her name means “grace”) did, and this in spite of the hardships of widowhood: She prophesied, as Simeon did. She fasted and prayed; she served in the temple; she identified Jesus, concurring with what Simeon had announced; she gave thanks to God; and she continued to tell others about Jesus, the Messiah. The elderly can receive God's highest complements concerning their endeavors in the autumn of life (Proverbs 16:21; Psalm 92:12-14).
Already, Jesus who is only eight days old, had been identified as the Messiah by Gabriel, by Elizabeth; by the angels to the shepherds, by the prophet Simeon, and by the prophetess Anna. Later the wise men will arrive searching for Him as well. (Luke 2:30-32). God was working His plan, and His Son had come. From our standpoint, all that Jesus came to accomplish has been fulfilled. God's salvation has been prepared. These two wonderful individuals, Simeon and Anna, were pleased to have seen the time arrive and greeted the Savior with joy. May we also resolve to use the years of our lives productively and energetically to bring God glory and honor, both the years of youth as well as the final chapters of our lives here.
From Expository Files 23.9; September 2016