Moved by the Spirit, [Simeon] 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.’
Luke 2 tells us the humbling story of two wonderful worshippers – Simeon and Anna.
Simeon: ‘It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah’ (v26). Can you imagine living with that hope and that promise?
Anna: ‘She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying’ (v37). Despite the crushing loss of her husband decades before, Anna had not given up on God, but worshipped him with all her heart.
Their devotion to God meant that amid the demands of the day and the needs of their lives, they were both alert to his nudges and whispers. Whatever their other hopes and dreams, the one that consumed them was the longing for the promised Messiah.
I find this a sobering challenge as I think of the things I long for and the preoccupations of my days. Is Christ, the salvation of the world and the glory of God, my driving motivation? In my better moments, maybe, but certainly not always. My current needs and desires, and the ‘tyranny of the urgent’ all too often shout louder and drown out both the promptings of God and the desire to listen to them.
We don’t know what Simeon’s plans were for that day, but when he felt the Spirit’s prompting to go to the Temple courts, he went. His alertness to God’s nudges, and his obedience to them meant that he got to see and hold the Lord of the universe. The deep connection that both he and Anna had with God meant that they were immediately able to understand the significance of this tiny baby who had been brought into their midst.
So far in this series we’ve been thinking about our personal, earthly hopes. The example of Simeon and Anna reminds us to lift our eyes to the greater hope that we long for. What might that look like on your frontline today? Could it mean that some important tasks take second place as you listen for God’s promptings to help someone in need, pray for a colleague, or answer a child’s never-ending questions?
If we’re looking and longing for God’s salvation to be revealed to those around us, we just might see it.
For Further Reflection
- Who in your circle of influence needs to know God’s salvation?
- How would your life look if you were to live it more like Simeon and Anna lived theirs? What are some small, practical steps you could take towards that kind of responsiveness to God?