Luke 2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel.
The consolation of Israel is a wonderful and often overlooked description of Jesus Christ. He is the one who comforts his people, and will wipe every tear from [our] eyes (Revelation 21:4), wrote John. Even now, we can give our sorrows to him, and receive the comfort that he provides.
Jesus understands rejection, since he was rejected. He understands poverty, since he was poor. He understands pain, since he was lashed. He understands conflict, since he was hated. And since he loves his people dearly, there is nothing we ever go through, that he does not go through with us (Hebrews 13:5).
Jesus knows all about our struggles; he will guide till the day is done. There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus. No, not one! No, not one! No friend like him is so high and holy. And yet no friend is so meek and lowly. There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus. No, not one! No, not one! (Johnson Oatman)
Luke 2:26 It had been revealed to [Simeon] by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
Jesus was a few weeks old when Mary and Joseph brought him to the Temple. Moved by the Spirit, Simeon went into the temple courts, and took the baby in his arms. Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation (Luke 2:29-30), he said. Simeon was an old man, and now that he had seen the Messiah, he was ready to die, and he could die in peace.
One of the most remarkable things about Jesus Christ is how he changes death. [We] prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), wrote Paul. Likewise, I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far (Philippians 1:23), wrote Paul also. This should be the experience of all who belong to Christ.
A Christian lady was in a hospital, dying of cancer, when a nurse stopped by to ask how she was doing. The nurse wrote a note on the lady’s chart which said, inappropriately joyful. The only way to be joyful at the time of death is to know the one who conquered death. The best is always yet to come for those who know the Lord.
Luke 2:34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel.
Whether we fall or rise depends on our response to Jesus Christ. He will make us better or worse, but will never leave us the same. Depending on our response to him, we will rise or we will fall.
Peter, for example, was not the kind of person who would be known today, apart from Jesus Christ. But he preached on the day of Pentecost, and three thousand believed (Acts 2:41). Then he wrote a couple letters that are included in the New Testament, so he is read and quoted by millions. Peter was not exceptional apart from Jesus Christ. But because of Jesus Christ, he became greater than he ever imagined.
Judas is another story. He pretended to belong to Christ, but then he betrayed him for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). Then he felt so guilty that he returned the money and hung himself (Matthew 27:5). He appears to have hung himself over a cliff, since he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out (Acts 1:18). It would be better for him if he had not been born (Matthew 26:24), said Jesus.
Whether we go up or down, become glorious or hideous, depends on our relationship with Jesus Christ. Peter and Judas are good examples, but we should also think of Pilate, Paul, Matthew, and Herod. Jesus will do us good or harm, depending on our response to him.
Luke 2:35 And a sword will pierce your own soul too.
These are the last words Simeon spoke to Mary, and it would take over thirty years before she knew what they meant. As Jesus hung on the cross, soldiers thrust a spear into his side (John 19:34), to be sure that he was dead. As Mary watched the spear enter the body of her son, she would have felt a stabbing in her soul. Simeon foretold the child’s death, as well as his mother’s pain. A sword will pierce your own soul too.
Luke 2:36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was eighty-four years old, and her life had not gone the way she planned. Her husband died after seven years of marriage, and there is no mention of any children. The normal path for Anna would have been to remarry, but she devoted her life to prayer instead. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying (Luke 2:37). Many would consider this a sheltered life, but Anna probably saw more in prayer than if she had traveled the world.
Years ago, I went to the Louvre Museum in Paris, and saw the Mona Lisa. It’s the most famous painting in the world, and is valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. I took a look and checked it off my list. Of another painting, Vincent VanGoth said, I would give ten years of my life to sit fourteen days before that painting with barely a crust to eat. That is how it is with prayer. Some people see; most do not.
But here is a promise for us all. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13), wrote Jeremiah. Anna sought God for decades, and found him in the flesh. She gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38).
Our usefulness to God may seem to diminish with age, but Anna and Simeon were both very old when God used them as never before. Our usefulness to God is never done until we die—and then we’ll serve him forever. Our final years on earth can be our best, if we devote ourselves to seeking God.
Reflection and Review
How does Jesus change our view of death?
How did Jesus elevate Peter?
What are the benefits of growing old?