Are we like Anna and Simeon?
”When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
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.
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.Luke 2:22 - 40
Liturgically we are in an interesting place, sort of at a crossroads. Behind us we saying goodbye to the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany for another year, ahead of us lies the gruelling and dusty road of the countdown to and then immersion in Lent. But before we say goodbye to the joyous seasons of Christmas and Epiphany, we have the celebration of Candlemas, celebrated 40 days after Christmas Day when we remember the presentation of Christ in the temple.
The Hebrews passage gives us sustenance for our journey into Lent – a reminder that he shared our humanity which means that he can relate to us and understand us in every way as human beings – ‘Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity’, and later ‘Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted’. But more than just a companion, we have a Saviour – one who death breaks the power of death and is able to ‘make atonement for the sins of the people’.
Simeon and Anna offer us two great examples of discipleship. Simeon is a fantastic example of discipleship and living for what matters in life. Having been told that he would see the Messiah, he is content to wait his whole life for the honour and when he does finally see the messiah, he is content to say that his life can be taken from him. I think he is saying that this is the highlight of his life, it doesn’t get better than this, meeting the messiah, even just for a moment was worth waiting a whole lifetime for. I am sure that Simeon has much to teach us:
- Meeting Jesus is the most important thing in life and without Him you are missing out
- Missing out on Jesus who, when he was grown up promised ‘I have come to give you life and life in all its fullness.’ Jesus knows exactly what we need to live the best life we can.
- The greatest gift we can offer to others is, like Simeon, to hold him out to others that they might behold His glory.
Anna is no different in recognising Jesus. She was widowed after only seven years of marriage. Just because we are disciples doesn’t mean that life will be simple and straightforward. I can assure you that you will not be immune from pain, grief, illness, betrayal, loss, isolation at various times in your life but I can also assure you that if you accept His invitation to join Him on the journey of faith, you will find in Him a companion who has been there before you, carried the same suffering and has gone further, he has taken your pain, carried it to the cross and said that these things no longer need to define you.
Anna had every right to ask the Messiah any number of questions about suffering and pain but she doesn’t, she gives thanks to God and shares with everyone that the messiah is here.
In our own discipleship, let’s take Simeon and Anna’s example –like Simeon and be open to the Holy Spirit, looking for the presence of God in our midst and holding Him before others. Like Anna, we can commit ourselves to regular worship, prayer and spiritual disciplines like fasting, particularly as we approach Lent.
Get the sermons straight to your inbox.
Don’t miss a week by subscribing to our weekly sermon notes. Every week you’ll be send the latest sermon and sermon notes straight to your inbox.