Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting 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 do for Him according to the custom of the Law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel.”
And there was a prophetess, Anna, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
The Christmas story, as typically told during this season, focuses on events leading up to the birth of the Christ Child and, sometimes, incorporates subsequent visits from “wise” men and the need for the new family to move to avoid Herod’s evil plans. Tucked in after the birth story, at the appropriate time and in accordance with Jewish law, is Joseph and Mary’s trip to the Temple in Luke 2 to present Jesus. Here we find Simeon and Anna, the first of many during that time and in centuries to come, who recognize the true meaning of Christmas: the Messiah has come.
First we encounter Simeon, a devout Jew, who has been told by the Holy Spirit that he will see the Messiah before his death. He is looking and longing for the consolation of Israel, the Chosen One who will bring help and comfort to a suffering people. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, Simeon finds Joseph and Mary in the temple and joyfully sings of the salvation that will come through the Christ Child. Next, we meet Anna, an elderly prophetess, who has been faithfully fasting and praying since becoming a widow. Her response also is joyful, so much so that she declares her joy and gratitude to everyone who will listen. Both Simeon and Anna were so overcome with joy that they could not contain themselves.
When was the last time we’ve been overcome with joy? The Messiah Jesus has been revealed to us, but has this life-altering joy been lost in the hurriedness of life and holidays? The responses of Simeon and Anna remind us there is great joy in encountering the Messiah. Their examples of devotion also challenge us to consider if we, too, are looking and longing for the Messiah to be revealed and His salvation to be known to others. Isn’t knowing Jesus and making Him known worth our devotion, even unto our final breath?
Father, restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Let it overwhelm me anew this season. May I look and long for Your coming again. And while I wait, embolden me to share the joy of salvation in Christ during this season and in all the days while I still have breath.