- a man who served God faithfully
- a patient man who waited for the Messiah
- an elderly man who blessed and held the infant Jesus
Delight yourself also in the LORD and He shall give you the desires of your heart. ... Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him. —Psalm 37:4, 7
Do old people have any excitement in their lives? Do they have things they want to do and see? Are they interested in what’s happening around them?
Do old people have important things to say? This lesson is about Simeon, an old man, who had a special hope fulfilled by God. He saw one of the most important events in world history! He spoke an astounding prophecy about saving the world.
Simeon was a patient man. He was tireless, steadfast, unwavering, dedicated, firm and determined.
STORY AND STUDY
(This story is found in Luke 2:25-35.)
Simeon lived in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago at a time when people were looking for the Messiah (Messiah means “Anointed One, Redeemer, Savior”). The time of the Messiah’s arrival was of great interest to everyone. Scripture revealed it was close, but not even the wisest students of prophecy could pinpoint the exact date of the Messiah’s coming.
And they didn’t know how He would come. Would He march into Jerusalem with an honor guard? Would He miraculously appear at the temple? Would He descend from heaven in the clouds? People didn’t know, nor did they clearly understand His nature. Was He God, man, or both?
But they knew what the Scriptures said He would do when He came:
- He would restore their country.
- He would bring back the people who had been driven away.
- He would make the nation safe.
- He would set up a fair government.
- He would rule with righteousness.
- He would bring peace and happiness.
So even though people didn’t have a clear understanding about the Messiah Himself, they looked forward to a better life when He arrived.
At some time earlier in his life, Simeon received a revelation from God saying he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah.
Simeon was a devout (sincere, earnest) man. The Bible calls attention to Simeon because of how he waited. In those days, everyone didn’t wait in the same way, just like today we don’t all wait in the same way. Some people are more patient than others. Simeon was a patient man. He was tireless, steadfast, unwavering, dedicated, firm and determined. He understood King David’s advice found in Psalm 37: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (verses 4-5).
Pause for thought: Do you have friends or do you know people who get irritated and quarrelsome when things don’t happen as fast as they want? The New Testament talks about people being “scoffers” who give up on something very important because they are tired of waiting. They sometimes make fun of things that take too long to come true. (You can read about this in 2 Peter 3:3-4.)
At some time earlier in his life, Simeon received a revelation from God saying he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah (Luke 2:26). This was extraordinary and exciting news, but Simeon didn’t pester God with questions like: “Are you sure, God?”, “Is it time yet?”, or “How much longer until He gets here?” Simeon was content to wait and see how this revelation would come about.
Why did God communicate with Simeon and not someone else? The Bible doesn’t say. However, God knew that he was the right man to deliver an important prophecy.
Simeon was inspired to go to the temple on the day that Joseph and Mary came there with the infant Jesus. They were bringing him to the temple for the customary presentation of the firstborn (you can read more about this ceremony in Exodus 13). But before the ceremonies took place, Simeon caught sight of Joseph, Mary and the baby. Realizing this infant was the Messiah, Simeon tenderly took the baby into his arms and praised God. Joseph and Mary marveled at his words.
Simeon said that when it was time for him to die, he would be at peace because God had allowed him to see the Savior: “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” (verses 29-32).
Simeon also spoke a sobering prophecy to Mary: “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” (verses 34-35).
Pause for thought: What do you think about these words? Some of them sound good, and some of the words sound very troubling. Do you think Mary would have some wonderful times with her son and also some times of sorrow?
As the Messiah and Savior, Jesus would accomplish wonderful things (“the rising of many in Israel”). But He would also have enemies. Mary would suffer (“a sword will pierce through your own soul also”) as a result of Jesus being both loved and hated (“a sign which will be spoken against”). People would have to deal with the truth (“the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed”).
The Bible doesn’t say any more about Simeon after his meeting with Joseph, Mary and Jesus. Simeon asked God to allow him to “depart in peace, according to Your word” (verse 29). It’s likely he died, deeply satisfied, grateful and at peace with God.
In the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (also known as the Gospels), you can read about Jesus Christ: His enemies, His friends, His miracles and what He said about restoring the glory to Israel.
What was Simeon waiting for? Was anyone else waiting too?
Why did the people want the Messiah to come?
Can you think of another older servant of God who had important things to say and do? (Hint: God gave him the job of leading millions of people out of Egypt.)
The same day that Simeon held the infant Jesus, God brought another person into the temple to see Him too. Anna, who was a widow of at least 84 years of age, is another example of a faithful older person with important things to say and do. God made sure Anna was there to see Jesus: “And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the LORD, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).
The Bible shows us that God loves people of all ages. He has work for everyone to do, whether we are young, middle-aged or old. That’s exciting!
Can you think of ways that older people in your congregation help and serve others? Do you make an opportunity to talk with older people in your congregation? What are some good ways people serve one another? What are some ways you like to serve?
1. How Do You Wait?
Buy a packet of seeds and plant them in a container of potting soil.
When should the seeds germinate and sprout? Check the back of the seed packet. It should tell you when to look for sprouts. Write the number of days on your calendar and check your seeds every day. Did they sprout on time? If you planted 10 seeds, did they all come up? Did any fail to grow? How many days did you wait before you saw anything poke up from the soil? Did you wait patiently like Simeon and Anna?
2. To Speak or Not to Speak
Have you ever tried speaking only when you are spoken to? It’s probably not too hard to wait and watch for seeds to grow, but what if you couldn’t say anything until you were given permission to speak? Try it for an hour, especially when you and your family are busy doing something fun. How hard is it not to say anything unless your parent gives you permission, especially if you want another dessert, or you are excited about a game, or a younger child takes something of yours? Can you come up with a plan for how to be more patient in times like these?
Further Your Study
The examples of individuals recorded in the pages of the Bible can teach us valuable lessons about life. God often worked with ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. Learn how our biographical studies are organized and get tips on how Read More >