I like rules. I like to follow the rules. I like when others follow the rules. It holds us accountable to our actions and keeps the peace. However, while I like rules, I can’t imagine what it must have been like for those in the Old Testament who were held accountable to all 613 Levitical Laws. It must have been exhausting to constantly atone for your own sin by offering animal sacrifices, blood sacrifices.
This is not a life I desire, but this was the reality for Simeon and Anna. They were both devout Jewish worshipers who, contrary to many of their peers, did not put their hope in the covenant of the law. Instead, their hope was in the Savior that Isaiah 7 had eagerly anticipated. Their hope was in a Rescuer still to come. Their hope was in the covenant of grace.
While they don’t often make appearances in the children book versions of “The Christmas Story” both Simeon and Anna did meet Jesus while He was an infant. As was required by Levitical Law, Mary and Joseph went to the temple in Jerusalem to dedicate their first born Son and to offer a sacrifice.
Luke 2 explains how Simeon, an old man, appears before them and takes Jesus into his own arms – praising God that the Messiah had arrived. The Spirit had told Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. And so he had been patiently waiting. Prayerfully watching. When Jesus arrived, Simeon was ready.
After Simeon blesses the family, Anna enters the scene. Anna was an 84 year old prophetess, a person chosen to speak for God, who never left the temple. She spent her days and nights worshiping, fasting, and praying. As Anna listens to Simeon she also begins thanking God that Israel’s redemption had arrived. She, faithful Anna, got to see her hope in the flesh.
It’s inspiring how these two God-honoring, God-fearing, God-serving individuals immediately recognized who Jesus was and stopped what they were doing in order to publicly worship Him. That is faith in action. Faith that defies culture. Faith that is brave. Faith that hopes even when things seem impossible.
As we approach Thanksgiving and kick off our holiday season, let us look to the manger… but let’s not stop searching until we find the cross. Just as Simeon and Anna anticipated the coming of Jesus, we should also prepare to celebrate His birth and His resurrection with a bold and beautiful hope.
Thrive in Five – One set of Bible verses, 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Let’s dive into God’s Word.
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 on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 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… – Luke 2:25-28 NIV
She (Anna) never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she (Anna) gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. – Luke 2:37a-38 NIV