Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations. Luke 2:29–31
When Mary and Joseph were in the temple courts with baby Jesus, they were approached by Simeon. Luke tells us, “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah” (2:26). So what was Simeon doing in the meantime? He was waiting for the hope of Israel. He watched. He prayed. He kept hope alive.
We don’t know how many months, years, or decades Simeon waited. What if he had given up on his hope? He would have missed the moment for which he was created. But he didn’t give up. Simeon kept waiting until one day when he took Jesus in his arms, and he knew. This is the song of the waiter: “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations” (2:30–31).
No sooner did Simeon walk away than there’s a beautiful, strange, haunting, and amazing song from Anna, a woman who lived 84 years as a widow. It would have been easy for her to be hopeless or bitter about having such a difficult life, but we’re told, “She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (v. 38).
Like Simeon and Anna, in this life we wait. Don’t lose patience. Don’t give up. In Jesus the invasion of earth by heaven has begun in earnest, and it will be carried through until God is occupying every moment and every inch.
Contemplate Luke 2:22–40, considering the events from the perspectives of Simeon and Anna. How would you describe their waiting and their joy?
Written by John Ortberg
John Ortberg is the senior pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.