Prelude: What can we learn from senior saints who have lived just and devout lives? Purpose: Let’s honor elderly church members. Plan: Let’s look specifically at Simeon and Anna in Luke 2:22-40.
Leviticus 19:32 says, “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.” Proverbs 16:31 says, “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.” Job 12:12 says, “Wisdom is with aged men, And with length of days, understanding.” Isaiah 46:4 promises Israel, “Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.”
The Song of Simeon
Luke 2:25-35 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just 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. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Simeon, a “just and devout” man greeted Jesus in the Temple. Joseph and Mary made an offering (Leviticus 12:6-8). A poor family like theirs offered a “pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons” as a purification rite. Simeon had received a premonition from the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. The Spirit guided him to the Christ child. Taking him up in his arms, he uttered prophetic words which have become part of our liturgy. Simeon is connected with untrustworthy legends. Was he the son of Hillel and the father of Gamaliel mentioned in Acts 5:34? Were his sons Charinus and Leucius?
Historians record Pharaoh inviting Simeon (the God-Receiver) to join seventy scholars translating the Scriptures into Greek, “The Septuagint.” He thought to translate “virgin” as “woman” in Isaiah 7:14. An angel stopped him saying, “You shall not die until you behold Christ the Lord born of a pure and spotless Virgin.”
Simeon then lived in expectation of the Messiah. The Holy Spirit led him to the Temple. “The Greek Anthology” quotes Mary referring to her Son as “older than ancient Adam.” The holy righteous Simeon the God-Receiver died at a great age. His remains were transferred to Constantinople in the sixth century.
Luke 2:36-40 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Having never remarried, she spent decades as a widow worshiping God daily in the Temple. She was a prophetess of the tribe of Asher, with its homeland around Galilee. So, even though some Jews denied that a prophet could come from Galilee (John 7:52) Anna did, and so did Jonah, Nahum, Hosea, Elijah and Elisha. While some eventually tire of church services, Anna did not. She endured in her zeal. She didn’t just believe Messiah would come, but “looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
Anna is an aged prophetess of the tribe of Asher. Legend says she had tutored Mary in the Temple. This highlights her special holy use by God in the life of Christ’s mother. Anna had lost her husband after only seven years of marriage and had never remarried. Anna devoted many decades of her life to the service of God in the Temple. She seems to be a model of the expectations of a widow in I Timothy 5:5-9. Because she spent so much of her time in the Temple, her presence at the presentation of Jesus is natural. She gave thanks to God and spoke of Him to others.
Orthodox Christians celebrate the Great Feast of the Meeting of the Lord on February 2, remembering Simeon and Anna meeting the infant Christ. Perhaps having no children left tremendous sorrow in Anna’s heart. She turned her pain into prayer, making it an offering to God, pouring out her heart to the Lord (Psalm 51:17). Damaged by life we can feel hopeless. Pouring out her anguish to God she trusted that there was hope. We too can discover what Anna found (Psalm 25:14). Ancient prophets clung to God in fasting and prayer, and He told them His secrets as a friend. Anna shared the Word of the Lord with others.
Postlude: Let’s learn from senior saints in our midst, especially those who have lived righteous and devout lives.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Psalm 148 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts!
Isaiah 61:10-62:3 He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness
Galatians 4:4-7 you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Luke 2:22-40 in Rhyme
Now when her purification
Was finished by calculation
They brought Him to Jerusalem
To the Lord for presentation
In the Lord’s law it is written
Males in the firstborn position
Shall be called holy to the Lord
Make a sacrifice in accord
With what’s in the law of the Lord
Two doves or two pigeons record
There was a man named Simeon
Just and devout, waiting upon
The Consolation of Isr’el
On him the Holy Spirit fell
And revealed that he would not be
Dead before the Christ he would see
Spirit-led into the temple
Saw Jesus not accidental
Whose parents brought for the custom
He took Him in his arms therefrom
And blessed God and said, You release
Dismissing Your servant in peace
According to Your word, my eyes
Have seen where Your salvation lies
Which You’ve prepared for all to see
A light for the nations to be
And the glory of Israel.
Joseph and His mother as well
Were amazed at what was spoken
Of Him, Then Simeon blessed them
And said to His mother Mary
For the rise and fall of many
In Israel, this Child is destined
To be a sign of contention
Yes, a sword will pierce your own soul
That many hearts are revealed whole
There was a prophetess Anna
Phanuel’s daughter from Asher
She was a very old person
Wed seven years since a virgin
A widow about eighty-four
Who prayed in the temple what’s more
Fasting and praying she served God
Both night and day she was abroad
And as she gave thanks to the Lord
Her conversation struck a chord
Discussed Him with those awaiting
Then they returned to Galilee
To their own Nazareth city
The Child grew up strong in wisdom
And the grace of God was on Him