THE FAITH OF SIMEON AND ANNA

 

Luke 2:21-40

Key Verses: 2:30-32

 

“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

            In today’s passage we are going to study about two elderly people Simeon and Anna who spent their whole life in and around the temple in Jerusalem waiting for what Simeon called the consolation of Israel. They were people filled with the Holy Spirit. In the autumn of their lives the Spirit enabled them to see baby Jesus was the Consolation and the Redemption they had all their lives waited for. They rejoiced and thanked God at the sight of baby Jesus. Seeing Jesus enabled them to see something greater than death. They could see God’s salvation in Jesus and therefore face death in peace. From them we can learn God uses people who wait for Jesus Christ. We wait for many import events in our life. Graduation. Marriage. A job. Birth of a child. We should also wait for Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is definitely coming again. If we are waiting for him as Simeon and Anna were, that day will be a very joyful day. Let us now learn from these two old people who waited for the coming of Jesus their entire lives.

 

Part 1.  Simeon’s faith (21-35)

 

            Look at verses 21-24.  In these verses we want to think about Jesus and the God fearing parents God entrusted baby Jesus to. Heaven has always known the precious name of Jesus. This world began to learn of the name of Jesus eight days after Jesus birth. On this day Jesus was circumcised according to Moses law. Moreover he was named Jesus because this was the name the angle had given them to name Him even before he was conceived. Jesus means, “The Lord saves.”  Bible messages after Bible messages, testimonies after testimonies can be given to describe all the great and powerful work of Jesus’ salvation work. As not to stray from the passage we see it gives us a glimpse at what kind of parents God entrusted baby Jesus to. They were people who feared God. The angle told them to name him Jesus. They obeyed and name him Jesus. God’s word told them to circumcise him on the eighth day. They obeyed the law and had Jesus circumcised on the eighth day. In fact everything we see Joseph and Mary doing in verses 21-24 is written in God’s law found in Leviticus 12. According to God’s law a woman becomes ceremonially unclean for seven days after giving birth. If she gave birth to a boy she must wait 30 days to be purified from her bleeding. If she gave birth to a daughter she must wait 60 days to be purified. Mary and Joseph obeyed this law. Once the woman is purified, the Law of the Lord says the baby must be brought to Jerusalem and presented to the Lord. They are not to go empty handed. They are to present to the Lord a lamb. If they can’t afford a lamb they are to present a pair of doves or two young pigeons. According to God’s law the purpose of this sacrifice was to redeem the first born son and to offer atonement for the woman’s uncleanness. We see all this points exactly to what Jesus’ life does for us. God sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice who could redeem our lives from God’s judgment. He is also God’s perfect sacrifice to cleanse us of all our sins. We see our great Savior Jesus was entrusted not to rich parents but to godly parents. In this world there is no doubt wealth is honored and respected above anything else. From Jesus’ parents we learn God honors and entrusts his work to those who obey his word. Whether we have little wealth or much wealth let us learn from Jesus’ parents to humbly submit our lives to God’s word.

 

            Look at verse 25.  “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout.  He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” All we know about the life of Simeon is found in this verse. He was righteous and devout. The Holy Spirit was upon him. These however are not why Simeon found himself in the pages of the Bible. Simeon is mentioned because of what he was waiting for. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel. This means he was waiting for the one Shepherd Steve talked about last week in his message. He was waiting for the child to be born who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.” (Is 9:6b)  When we think of older men we usually think of men who have everything. The fact Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel tells us he did not have everything. However he was not waiting to find comfort in this world nor from anyone in this world. He was waiting to find comfort from the Messiah himself. We see here God recognizes those who wait on Jesus Christ. No one likes to wait. Once I was standing in a line in a Mc Donald's. Two gentle men were ahead of me. No one was waiting at the counter to take our orders. I was about ready to yell.  Thankfully the man in front of me yelled: “Can someone come and take our order?” Women came out. Quickly completed the order of the first man. He politely thanked her. Then turned around and said: “I didn’t appreciate you yelling in my ear.” The man who yelled out replied: “You got your food, didn’t you.” He had a point. But looking back I believe waiting would have been the best thing to do. When we wait it seems all we’re doing is standing around getting nothing accomplished. However if you read in the gospels what Jesus will be looking for when he comes back again it will be for the servant who is watching for his return. I know of only one way to watch. It is through waiting. Are we not happy when someone is waiting for us at the airport when we arrive? We would not tell that person. Why are you wasting your time waiting for me? We thank them for waiting for us. Waiting is also something all of us can do. Missionary Monica Chun showed us she had a talent to lead singspiration. I don’t think all of us here have such a talent. But we all have the ability to wait for Jesus Christ. Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel. He would not find himself in Peoples magazine for waiting for Jesus. But he will find his name in the book life because he was waiting for Jesus.

 

 

 Look at verse 26-29: “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.” Before Simeon saw Jesus he overcame his fear of death by holding onto the promise the Holy Spirit gave him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Now he held the Lord’s Christ in his arms he could face death not with fear but with peace. God kept his promise to allow him to see the Christ before he died. Now he had peace Christ would surely save his soul. Simeon didn’t plead for a few more months or days on earth. He probably held the same testimony Paul held in Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  Simeon teaches those who wait for Christ need not fear death. We can face it with peace because God will surely keep his promise to give us eternal life through our faith in Jesus Christ.

 

 Look at verse 32a: “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” This is the number one reason most Jews refused  to accept Jesus as their consolation. They hated the idea or any teaching that taught Jesus would also be a light to the gentiles. It’s hard to understand why many Jews in Jesus’ day would have been perfectly happy to see all gentiles continue to live under the dark power of Satan. Simeon did not share such a strong distaste to the Gentiles. In fact his words seem to indicate he was praying for the Gentiles to also find the same consolation in Jesus as Israel would. In Mark 5 we find one man who found a light of revelation in Jesus. This man had anywhere from 3000 to 6000 demons living in him. Society tried to chain him from hurting himself and others. But he kept breaking the chains. Then one day the God of Creation in the form of Jesus Christ met him on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. No one could stand being around him. Jesus on the other hand walked right up to him and asked him: “What is your name?” This man was an enemy of God, an enemy to all men and he was his own worst enemy.” Still Jesus Christ the greatest person ever to walk this earth asks the man: “What is your name?” Next Jesus with the cost of a whole herd of pigs drove all the demons from this man. He gave this man back a peaceful right mind. This man for the rest of his life shared with others how Jesus was a great light of revelation to him. He testified how he had mercy on him and drove thousands of demons from him. It doesn’t matter how deep into the depths of Satan’s dark control we may find ourselves. All we have to do is ask Jesus Christ to have mercy on us. He will drive all of Satan’s darkness from us. Jesus Christ is not a respecter of any man. He is however a light of revelation to the Gentiles.”

 

Look at 32b: “and for glory to your people Israel.” Every country has its own person it glories in. For Greece Alexander the great was their glory. For France Napoleon was their glory. For Israel Jesus is their glory. Other world leaders brought war through the leaders they glory in. Jesus brought world salvation to the world. Unfortunately for Israel they still reject Jesus to be their glory.

 

Look at verse 33: “The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.” Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and a rising of many Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,” so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Here we see the paradoxical effect Jesus would have on Israel. We can say it is the same with all people. Jesus is the only person we cannot say I have no opinion one way or the other about. There is no neutral ground with Jesus. Baby Jesus looks very harmless. Simeon could see this child alone was destined to cause the rising and falling of many. Almost 70 years later because Jerusalem rejected Jesus every stone in that great city was knocked down by the Roman armies. When we see our own country more and more becoming hostile and anti-Jesus, it should cause us to have a sense of problem about this country’s future. For this reason I have always been grateful for UBF’s prayer topic to raise up 10,000 house churches. We must pray God will help our country to turn away from its anti-Jesus ways. We must pray God will use our country to be a missionary sending country that brings the good news of Jesus to other anti-Christian nations throughout this world.

           

Part 2.  Anna’s Hope (36-40)

 

While Simeon was talking to Mary, verse 36 reads: “There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” I grew up with four sisters. God has granted me three daughters too. Therefore though I may not know much, I know a little about women. My experience is women usually have many hopes, dreams and ambitions in this world. Therefore for Anna to completely cut off all these hopes by committing her entire widow life to prayer and fasting in the temple tells me either her husband was so terrible she vowed never to marry again. Or he was so great that no one man could ever replace him. What there is not speculation about is that when she did live as a widow she lived with only hope in God. Anna’s life as a widow reminds us of what Paul wrote about widows in 1 Tim 5: 5 and 6.  “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.” Anna lived like the first widow. She was left all alone when she was widowed. But she made a commitment to put her hope in God. She prayed night and day asking God alone for help. God kept her health and strong way into her 80’s and maybe longer. Since Anna never left the temple it is not surprising she came upon, Mary, Joseph and Simeon holding baby Jesus in his arms. When she saw baby Jesus it would have been understandable if she could have felt sad for herself for never being able to have children and being widowed at such a young age. Instead she thanked God. Look at her reason in verse 38: “Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” Anna’s life of worship in God’s temple made her a mother to Jerusalem. Just as a mother worries for the future of her children and prays for them, she worried and prayed for Jerusalem. When she saw baby Jesus she saw the one God sent to answer her prayer for Jerusalem.  Only God knows the powerful effect Anna’s prayers had for Jerusalem. One thing is sure Jerusalem always had and still has hope because someone like Anna gave her life praying for it. Similarly our children, our Bible students, our country and the countries of this world always have hope of redemption if we earnestly pray for them.

 

            In today’s Passage we studied about two old people. One waited on God to fulfill his promise to see the consolation of Israel. The other hoped in God by a life of prayer, fasting and worship. God answered both their life long prayers through baby Jesus. From these old people we must learn we should never become tired Christians who stop eagerly placing our hope in Jesus. Let us thank God for giving us Jesus as our consolation. Let us pray God may help us also to be prayer warriors like Anna and pray for the redemption of the world.