So Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms. Then after blessing God in his revelatory prayer, he blesses the holy couple and speaks prophetically about the pain coming to Mary: “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (34,35). Joseph and Mary are going to return to Nazareth to experience ridicule throughout their lives. How merciful of God to give them these glorious encounters to let them know beyond any doubt that all the suffering they will go through does not erase the truth that Mary was singly blessed beyond any woman who has ever lived and that they are going to be raising the Messiah who will bring salvation to the world, not just the Jews.
It was not easy raising the Son of God. By the time Jesus began his public ministry, Joseph was out of the picture. The brothers of Jesus mocked him and did not believe in him. They along with Mary tried to get him to come home and stop embarrassing the family as the oldest son with an itinerant ministry, living at the lowest of the poverty level. The good news is that Jesus appeared to his brother James after the resurrection, and that was what James needed to believe. He became the strongest leader of the Jerusalem church and wrote the letter that bears his name. And brother Jude also became a leader and wrote a letter as well.
And as if the prophetic pronouncement of Simeon was not enough, an elderly lady joined the gathering. Luke writes that “there was a prophetess, Anna…She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour, she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:36-38). As if to say, “Dear people, here is your Redeemer!” It sounds like the action of Simeon drew perhaps a small crowd of people who were at the temple grounds at the time. Some no doubt heard the prayer and prophecy of Simeon. Now even more are listening as Anna prays and prophesies, and not just to the powerfully blessed parents, but Luke says ”to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (38). What a holy moment! They had never heard words like this before in the temple court, clearly an unforgettable time for the parents of Jesus.
Think about it. Suppose Anna got married at the age of seventeen, common in those days. Her husband dies when she is twenty-four. She could have gone into serious depression. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with God? She did the opposite. She used her life situation to become a woman of prayer and prophecy, and millions read about her two thousand years later.
God has likewise given us destinies, plans He wants us to walk into in the year 2022. If we listen like Simeon and Anna did, we will hear the voice of the Spirit, who not only speaks clearly but fills and empowers us to carry out the holy will of God in our lives! Blessed New Year!!