Lukeby Mike Raiter
The scene is 40 days after the birth of Jesus. In order to fulfil the Old Testament law’s requirements for purification (Leviticus 12:1–4), Joseph and Mary take their baby to the temple in nearby Jerusalem. Here they meet two godly people, Simeon and Anna. Notice how Luke emphasises their experience in the temple and their anticipation of the coming Messiah, who will deliver Israel.
There are two great periods in the history of salvation. The first was the age of the law and the Prophets, where the focus was on Israel. If you wanted to meet God, you had to go to the temple. You had to obey the law. It was the age of promise, when Israel looked forward to its salvation.
With Jesus, a new age has dawned and everything has changed. The old age has served its purpose of preparing for the coming of the Messiah. Now, we no longer go to a temple, or any other building, in order to meet God. We meet God by going to Jesus.
Can you see how Simeon and Anna are two symbols of the former age? They have served God in the temple. They have devoutly kept the law of Moses. They have waited patiently for the Messiah to bring salvation. When Simeon prays to be dismissed in peace (v. 29), he is talking about both himself and the age to which he belongs. Now that salvation has come (v. 30), their work is finished. For centuries, Israel has been waiting, and now, at the appointed time, the Messiah has arrived. Simeon rejoices that Jesus is the light of the world and the glory of Israel (v. 32).
The world we live in has always been marked by darkness and shame, both morally and physically. However, Luke is reminding us that a new day has dawned. God has always been guiding the events of history to fulfil His wonderful salvation plan for all people. Just as surely as God brought the old age to its conclusion, we can be certain He will bring this “present evil age” (Galatians 1:4) to a close and reveal in glory the Lord Jesus to everyone. Then His people will enjoy the ultimate goal of all God’s plans: the wonderful age to come.
How do you think it was possible for Simeon to recognise that this child was Israel’s salvation?
As with the shepherds (v. 17), Anna also begins to tell people about Jesus (v. 38). What lesson do you think Luke wants us to draw from these early chapters of his gospel?