Anything you would really like to do before you meet up with the Lord? Luke introduces us to  Simeon and tells us four things about him:  he “was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:25,26). Scripture doesn’t say he was old. We assume so because he said he had only one more matter to fulfill before he would depart.  He proved his ability to be guided by the Spirit when he came to the temple exactly when Joseph and Mary also showed up. Having waited perhaps for years or even decades, the Spirit said, “Now!” And he met up with the Messiah. Flawless timing!

It turned into one of the three remarkable early experiences of the couple. The first was the visit from the shepherds. The birth hadn’t seemed the way one would expect of a Messiah-King, out back in a stable. Might they have wondered a bit? Not when the shepherds came and told them that an angel announced the birth, followed by a mighty multitude of them in the heavens. We are told that “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The visit of Simeon and Anna was the second amazing experience. The third was the visit of the wisemen, months later. The infant is now called a child.  Each encounter put the strength into Joseph and Mary they would need to face hostility all their life, from an illegitimate birth to an illegitimate claim as King of the Jews three decades later.

Leviticus 12 prescribed that when an Israelite woman gave birth to a son, she would be unclean for seven days. On the eighth day the boy would be circumcised. Then she would continue the process of purification for thirty-three more days, after which she would go to the temple and bring to the priest a lamb a year old. If she could not afford a lamb, she could bring two turtledoves or two pigeons. This fit the situation of the couple. A lamb was not in their budget.  But a lamb would be sacrificed thirty-three years later, costly indeed!

We don’t know if Simeon was a priest. It appears that he was not. What we know is that “he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him in his arms and blessed God” (Luke 2:25-28). Now again God is giving Joseph and Mary two powerful messages concerning the future of their baby. He said powerfully, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples; a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (2:29-32). An absolutely staggering and accurate prophetic word! This Jewish couple probably looked at each other, stunned and encouraged deep in their hearts. Simeon’s prayer has become a common liturgical benediction at funerals, uttered literally millions of times down through the centuries! (Part 2 next). 

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