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, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” 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 rising of many in 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.” There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, 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. 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. (Luke 2:25-38 NIV)
The time had come for the purification rites as spoken of in the Law of Moses, Jesus was taken to the temple in Jerusalem. It is in the temple that Mary, Joseph and Jesus meet Simeon and Anna, both outstanding men and women of God.
Simeon was righteous and devout man, the Holy Spirit was upon him. He was a man who heard from God, yet it doesn’t say how. He knew he would not die before he saw the consolation of Israel. The consolation of Israel being that Israel would be saved. He knew how to wait, every day he waited knowing that he would not die until he had seen the Lords Messiah.
The name Simeon is derived from the same root as Shema, a prayer prayed by the Jewish people “Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.” The prayer is associated with the law of Israel and as such the name Simeon can be linked to the Law (hold that thought until later).
On this particular day Simeon was moved by the Spirit, to go into the temple courts and on seeing Jesus proclaims:
Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel
Simeon knew that the child before him was the one he had been waiting for.
How did he know? I can only speculate that as he saw Jesus, something in his spirit jumped and witnessed to the saviour who was before him, maybe like when Elizabeth met Mary. We do know though that Simeon was a man who knew the moving of the Spirit for it was the Spirit who had revealed to Him that he would not die before He saw the Lord’s Messiah. And now here was the one he had been waiting for.
Mission accomplished, you can now dismiss your servant in peace, the word of the Lord had come to pass.
As he finishes his prophetic words Anna, a prophetess, steps into the picture. The name Anna means grace. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Jesus meets Simeon, whose name is associated with the law and is then passed to Anna, whose name means grace. There is a picture here of the message that Jesus is bringing, it is one of grace not of law. There is moving from law to grace through Jesus Christ for he will be the ultimate fulfilment of the law.
Simeon was one who knew how to hold onto the promises of God. He didn’t give into disappointment or question what was said, he was faithful to the one who was faithful to Him. This kind of hope only comes from daily communion and fellowship. Whatever your struggles might be in holding onto what God has said, there is grace for you, that is his empowering presence to hold on. This may come through divine encouragement or one who comes along side of you in the form of an ‘Anna’, however it comes, know that it does come.