This section of Luke describes how Jesus was presented at the temple, and the responses of Simeon and Anna to His birth.
This was a spiritually dark time in Israel. Israel was under the rule of the Pharisees, with their insistence on legalism and works-righteousness. They were also under the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection. Yet there was still a loyal remnant who clung to a hope of redemption through faith in a Redeemer. This remnant is represented here by Simeon and Anna.
We know Simeon was a faithful follower of God. Luke mentions in v.25 that he was "righteous and devout" and that "the Holy Spirit was upon him." Most importantly, He was waiting for the Redeemer, the "Consolation of Israel". Verses 29-32 contain his praise to God upon seeing Jesus, the promised Redeemer.
As in each of the songs of praise recorded about Jesus's birth, the message contains the theme than the beginning is as good as the end. Jesus was still just a baby, yet Simeon praises God that he has "seen Your salvation". This salvation was going to be a "light of revelation to the Gentiles." Think of the difference the gospel light has made in the world; compare the liberty and blessings enjoyed in lands where the gospel has flourished and the bondage and oppression in lands where it has not been received and lived upon!
Notice that Jesus life and death would be "the glory of Israel". There is not a future plan for national Israel. Jesus is the glory of Israel! The redemption of ethnic Israel will occur as Jews repent and believe in Him.
In verse 33, we see that Joseph and Mary marveled. It's interesting because they had already seen so many amazing prophecies regarding Jesus. Yet they still marveled and were amazed. Have we grown numb to the things of God, or do they still cause us to marvel and be amazed?
Finally Simeon prophesied to Mary that, according to God's plan, Jesus would bring about the rise and fall of many in Israel. He would reveal people's hearts and would be a "sign" -- something to give direction and show the way -- to be opposed. This is the "doctrine of twos" -- there is no neutral ground with Jesus. Either He will make you to rise or you will be cast down. You can follow the sign, or oppose it. You must either obey Him or reject Him.
Anna, like Simeon, was another member of the faithful remnant. We know very little about her, except that she was an older widow, a prophetess, and that she served constantly in the temple. Like the shepherds, she was, as a female, from a less-regarded group and, like them, she was entrusted with the gospel, which she shared to her fellow believers.
Anna and Simeon are a witness to us today. Let us be led by the Spirit to follow their example in these ways:
- To marvel and stand amazed at God's goodness
- To embrace Jesus
- To know His presence
- To follow the Spirit and be led by Him
- To rejoice
- and to tell others as we go