Today’s praise comes from two faithful followers of God who had lived many long years in expectation of God’s promises. Both Simeon and Anna spent their days in the Temple, where they were no doubt familiar faces to the worshippers and priests. For these two dear waiters-on-God, He had a special encounter planned. The shepherds came to find the Messiah, but the Messiah came to the temple to meet Simeon and Anna. When they see the baby, both Simeon and Anna burst into praise and prophesy about the rescue Jesus would enact.
At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
And he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
Simeon’s words seem a bit jarring and unsettling, not quite the happy sentiments you’d expect on the birth of a child. But Simeon’s praise is informed by the Spirit of God revealing the purpose of Messiah’s coming. This little baby, the Light made flesh, is coming to do battle against darkness. And there will be conflict and hardship and suffering. There will be wood and nails and blood as the forces of evil do their worst. But all this only marks the defeat of sin, darkness, and death. Our Emmanuel’s resurrection proves His victory: His eternal life secures our own by faith.
On Advent night, you find the Christ child lying in a manger. Thirty years later you find the God-Man hanging on a cross. The Savior whose birth was announced first to shepherds becomes the perfect sacrificial Lamb. The blood of God is poured out on rough wood as He pays the price for sin. Instead of heaven coming to earth, the Father turns His face away; instead of light and praise, there is darkness and anguished cries. For unto us a child is born … and a Savior is given. Like the shepherds, like Simeon and Anna, we are invited to hold Him, to kneel to Him in the cradle and on the cross, to adore Him, and to marvel at His grace poured out.
Blessings to you,