The Birth of Jesus
In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we read unique stories about different people’s reaction to the announcement of the coming of Emmanuel. Over the next several weeks, we will examine and reflect on each of their experiences as recorded in Scripture, and how they prepared for the coming of Jesus.
The story of Simeon and Anna is not told as often as it should be. It is a story that reminds the reader that God has always worked through the created people, and through the people who have received God’s covenant. It is a story of the promises of God being fulfilled, and of a life-long trust and faithfulness in God proving to be successful and worth the wait. Their story can be found in Luke 2:25-38.
As I read the story of these two people who meet Jesus when he is just 8 days old, I am amazed by the patience and long-suffering that is present in the lives of both of these people. And yet, God is going to work in a miraculous way to carry the story forward.
Simeon is described as a righteous and devout man. He is filled by the Holy Spirit, and he has immersed his life in the story of God’s people and God’s covenant. When he meets Jesus, he breaks out into praise because of what God is doing.
Anna is a widowed prophet who never leaves the temple. She is completely devoted to praising God. When she meets Jesus, she too breaks out into praise.
In just 14 verses, with Jesus only 8 days old, we see how God is fulfilling the covenant that God has made with his creation, and we see that these two witnesses to what God is doing share in the praise and joy that this brings. And just as soon as their stories are related and shared, the text continues forward. God’s promises have begun to be fulfilled, but God is still on the move. There is much more to come in the life of Jesus. There is much more for us to consider, reflect upon, and learn from Christ.
But before we move ahead in the story, we continue to pause and slow down to think about the coming of Jesus and how Simeon and Anna respond to his coming.
Both Simeon and Anna completely focused on God. Their lives revolve around the story of their people and their regular worship of God. Simeon is filled by the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit. Anna never leaves the house of praise for God. They devote themselves entirely to participating in the life that God has called them to. And God responds in both of their lives by showing them the coming redemption of Israel, and in fact, the entire world.
Not only that, but Simeon offers a blessing to Mary and Joseph as well. Anna cannot stop talking to all who are present about Jesus. Their life of spirituality and commitment overflows beyond themselves, and their participation in what God is doing is etched into the Gospel forever.
As we read the story of Jesus’ birth, these responses that we see from Simeon and Anna, from the Magi, from the shepherds in the field, and from Jesus’ parents to the news of Jesus’ birth all teach us to praise God for what God is doing in the world. Stories like this one also teach us to trust in God’s faithfulness and goodness. To commit ourselves to following God. And to allow that commitment to bless others as well. May we be people who give glory and praise to God, for he is good.