Luke 2:25-35: “An Answered Prayer to an Aged Servant”
“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking 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. And he came in the Spirit into the Temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to carry out for Him the custom of the Law.
“Then he took him into his arms and blessed God and said, ‘Now, LORD, thou dost let thy bondservant depart in peace, according to Thy word. For my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, and the glory of Thy people Israel.’ And the father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.
“And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed, and a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed’” (Luke 2:25-35, NASB).
As this study is being written, a pandemic virus has swept the globe, with one of the effects being isolation from neighbors, relatives, friends, co-workers, students from their teachers, and pastors from their congregations. However, computer technology has allowed people to talk and visit by means of cameras on their laptops, tablets, and cell phones in order to keep in touch, and in the cases of churches, meet as a congregation on Sundays. Families with older parents and grandparents who need constant medical and physical care and are living in nursing homes and centers have discovered this technology and are in touch with their loved ones since, as of now, no one is allowed to visit them in person for fear of catching or spreading the COVID-19 virus.
The sad fact is that there are many elderly citizens who have no one with whom to talk or receive visits; but even with this situation, many young people, especially children, have come up with unique ways of letting them know that they are not forgotten. One group taped the outside windows and glass entries in the form of a checkerboard, and a game of tic-tact-toe using erasable markers was started. Those with musical talents have played their instruments or sang familiar tunes outside of the homes where the residents could hear them. Ministers have held services in front of elderly members’ homes and assisted living centers, singing hymns and preaching sermons for everyone to hear and feel that they are part of the family of God once again. Phone calls are being made by churches and organizations to seniors as a means of care.
For now, it seems that the attitudes and concerns of individuals both here in the United States and other areas of the world, have changed somewhat towards those who are less fortunate, and especially in the case of the elderly. The worldwide virus seems to have been used by the LORD to shake us out of our self-centeredness and open the eyes of many people to the realization that they are not in charge of the affairs of the universe and there just might be Someone bigger than them calling the shots. There have been reports of online church services being viewed by people who have never been inside of a house of worship and have surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. That is something for which to praise God in the middle of this situation.
The original notes and exposition I wrote for this section of Luke’s gospel were based on frankly rude and inconsiderate remarks made a few years ago by some airhead Hollywood diva who ungraciously commented to a reporter that she thought old people tended to be “gross.” There were also some loud-mouthed, young “social justice warriors” at that time who were demanding that the generation prior to their time needed to get rid of the traditional viewpoints of prior times – and be made, by force if needed, to accept the times in which we live now or else be shut off in terms of expression or opinion that was counter to the definition of “morality” imposed by those who have rejected the concept of American exceptionalism.
What we now have at present is a developing generation of young idealists who are saying rather condescendingly to their parents and grandparents a term that infuriates me, both as a senior adult, and someone who lives in the real world. The term is “OK Boomer,” which is a code telling those of us over forty that our viewpoints, morals, ethics, and wisdom don’t matter, are useless and irrelevant, or standards that need to be discarded at the least and eliminated from social behaviors of the present time.
This is nothing more than the reprehensible behavior of a bunch of pampered, spoiled, self-centered, whiny brats who should have been disciplined by their parents and made to see that the world does not revolve around their viewpoints when challenged or refuted. Some of them look for “safe spaces” in order to avoid any challenge of their ideas or counterproductive speech that causes them to have “trigger warnings,” or some such nonsense that will not work when they are forced to face a harsh, demanding world that could frankly care less about their feelings.
The centerpiece of this exposition is not a treatise on modern degenerate behavior, but is to be a study in how the aged are to be treated according to the Scriptures, and how the LORD, in His grace and kindness, allowed a faithful servant in his last days to see the Promised One of Israel and the fulfillment of the prophecies spoken by the men of God who had graced the nation’s history and path in the past.
The Scriptures declare that the aged are wise counselors (1 Kings 12:6-16; Job 12:12), and they were experienced leaders of the nation (Joshua 24:2, 14-15, 29). In turn, the following generation was obligated to minister to their needs (1 Kings 1:15), show respect (Ps. 71:18-19), under God’s care (Isaiah 49:4), and were always to be honored by their children, grandchildren, and society in general (Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 16:31).
In his account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus, Luke records the actions and words of an aged servant of God by the name of Simeon. He was a teacher of the Law with a reputation of being faithful, just, and devout. His worship of the LORD was from the heart, and not merely an obligation to fulfill a required duty and procedure. Scripture records that he was eagerly waiting for what was “the consolation of Israel,” that promise from God to bring the Redeemer and King from the lineage of David to the faithful remnant longing for salvation and peace of the soul. The Holy Spirit of God was upon Simeon, ready to direct him to the promise God had made to him years ago, in that he would not die until he had seen the Promised Messiah.
The fulfillment of that promise came when Simeon happened to be at the temple when he saw a young couple with a baby eight days old and physically prepared for the ancient rite of circumcision as written in the Law (Genesis 17:10-14; Luke 1:59, Exodus 12:48; Romans 4:11). The couple have also brought with them two turtledoves, the sacrificial animals that reflect their economic state, which is one of poverty (Exodus 13:2, 12; Leviticus 12:8). Now Luke shows his readers the words that were spoken both as prophecy and an expression of sorrows to come.
Simeon asks Mary and Joseph if he can hold the baby in order to give Him a blessing. He has probably not had the joy this represents for many years. He looks at the Child and knows that He is the One he has waited to see.
This Child is the prophesied Son of the Sovereign God of All Creation (Psalm 2:7; 89:26-27; Matthew 28:19; Isaiah 7:14; Hebrews 1:8; 5:5-6; Matthew 16:16; 17:5; John 1:51; 3:16; 9:35-37;14:6; 20:31).
He is the Creator (John 1:1-4; Colossians 1:15-17),
the One who gave life to Adam (Genesis 1:26; 2:7),
the One who selected and blessed Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4),
the One who delivered His people from captivity through Moses (Exodus 3; 4),
the One who gave them the Commandments at Sinai (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21),
the One who empowered the prophets (1 Kings 17:1-4; 18:21; Isaiah 6:1-8; Jeremiah 1:5-10; Ezekiel 2:1-10; Daniel 2:31-45),
the One who gave David the songs of Israel (Psalm 23, 27, 119, 139),
the One who promised the arrival and saving work of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12),
and the One who is gloriously proclaimed in Isaiah 9:6-7 as “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
This little One is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, God made flesh to dwell among us and be one of us.
All that is written of Him in the Scriptures will be fulfilled; but for now, He is a baby under the love and protection of Mary and Joseph. He will have brothers and sisters who will doubt His claims but will come to call Him LORD after His resurrection (Mark 6:3; John 7:3-5; Acts 1:13-14; James 1:1; Jude 1:1).
Simeon, his prayers answered, asks the LORD to let him depart and go to his fathers in peace. He has seen God’s Promise of salvation, and says to Mary and Joseph that their Child is the One destined to provide salvation to all peoples, both Jew and Gentile, but there will come a day of sorrow that will pierce the soul of His mother when, years from then, her Son and her Savior will suffer and die a painful, agonizing death on a cross for the payment of her and the world’s sins once and for all.
Simeon then departs the scene, giving thanks to the Great and Loving God Almighty for a joy that we can only imagine this side of glory. Our elders in this present time who have walked with the LORD, seen prayers answered, and lost souls transformed by the power of the Word and the saving grace of Christ have much that the new generation of believers need to hear and imitate. They have incredible stories, life adventures, testimonies, a lot of time for prayer, and to mentor the new convert. These dear souls are treasures of history and faith and deserve our respect and a listening ear. There may be a Simeon somewhere waiting to bless your life today.