• By Rev. Joseph A. Bias

Simeon and Anna - Eyewitnesses of The Messiah


“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him." Luke 2:25

“And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. Luke 2:36-37

Two of the lessor-known characters in the story of Jesus’ birth are Simeon and Anna. We only hear of them once in the life of Jesus but their role is significant in that they were both led by the Holy Spirit to witness that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Savior to the Gentiles and to Israel.

“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:25-25

And of Anna it was said:

“And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” Luke 2:36-40

Simeon and Anna connect Jesus to His Jewish heritage and the covenants of God in the Law of Moses. Every male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day and sacrifice offerings were to be made to the Lord for the child as a firstborn Son.

The turtle dove and the young pigeon signified that they were not wealthy people but ordinary folk in the same class as the shepherds, farmers, carpenters and other tradesmen.

So Joseph and Mary went up to Jerusalem to fulfill this act of worship in the Law.

They did not expect to encounter Simeon or Anna as evidenced by their astonishment when Simeon prophesied over Jesus and Mary.

What is particularly noteworthy about them is that they had remained faithful in their expectation, each having been led by the Holy Spirit to believe that they would see the Messiah before they died.

Anna’s devotion and dedication is remarkable for its years of constancy.

Of her it is written:

"she was a widow of about fourscore and four (84) years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day."

And Simeon is similarly described as:

“…a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

Surely these two witnesses, faithful, just, and devoted to God and His service would leave no room for doubt about who this Baby was and who He was to become for Israel and indeed for the whole world.

It is written that every word is established out of the mouth of two or three witnesses. [Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1]

The birth of Jesus is witnessed by Gabriel, an angel of the Lord, by Elizabeth when she was filled with the Holy Spirit, by the multitude of heavenly hosts, by the Shepherds to whom Gabriel spoke and told them to find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger, by the Magi coming from the East to worship Him, and by Simeon and Anna who prophesied by the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the long awaited for Messiah, the Christ, The Anointed One of God, the Savior of the World.

And yet we are all the more blessed than they because, though we were not eyewitnesses of the events of Christ’s birth we have believed in our hearts that Jesus is now alive, raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit and by faith we have confessed with our mouths that JESUS IS LORD! Christ now lives in us and we are made new creations in Him.

Thanks be to God for His love, grace and mercy toward us that we are now born again unto eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“What child is this that laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping,

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet

while shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;

Haste, haste to bring Him laud,

the babe the Son of Mary.”


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