Already at Jesus’ birth – we see that Jesus placed Himself “under the law” for us. This rite of purification had been practiced for centuries and surely, on this day, Joseph and Mary were among many other Jewish parents at the Temple in obedience to God’s Old Testament ceremonial law. So, how was it that Simeon and Anna recognized that this Child was the fulfillment of the confident hope that they had been waiting for?
The same can be asked of us today: how is it that we know Jesus as “the fulfillment of the confident Hope” that had been promised from the beginning of time?
Let’s start to answer this with a related question: With many babies born each day, what makes one child more special to us than any of the others?
The answer is quite simple – the ones that are most special to us are those who are OUR child (or grandchild) / we have a special relationship with them. Because this child is a part of us, a part of our Hope, our Future, they have a great effect on our lives.
Simeon and Anna lived in this confident Hope and Luke 2 tells us why. Three times Luke records for us that The Holy Spirit “was upon Simeon,” “revealed to Simeon,” “moved Simeon!”And likewise, “Anna, a prophetess, moved by the Holy Spirit, never left the temple, but worshiped night and day…”
The same is true for us also. We confess with Martin Luther in the Small Catechism: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, My Lord, or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel…”
Also, note 2) that Simeon was in the place where Jesus was present – “moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” (v.27) WHAT IF Simeon had decided NOT to come to the Temple that day? Oh, what blessings we miss when we spend no time in God’s Word or miss out on the public gathering of believers in worship!
And 3) Simeon “took Jesus in his arms.” When Simeon did it, Jesus was about six weeks old. We take Jesus who is “The Word become flesh” (John 1) – when we take His Word, the Bible and read, study, listen and learn from it; and when Jesus invites: “Take eat, this is My Body… Take drink, this is My blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
After Simeon had seen and held Jesus, he broke out in the song we still sing: “Lord, now You let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your Word. 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.” (v.29-32)
“Depart in peace” is the dismissal at the Lord’s Supper. It is also the closing words of the Benediction that sends us back out into the world after “holding Jesus” – receiving His life-strengthening Word and Sacrament: “…the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
May God, the Holy Spirit, so fill us; enlighten us; empower us with the Hope – as He did to Simeon and Anna – that we not only receive God’s peace but that God’s Peace go in us and through us – to our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers – this week and always. Amen.