“I believe in Jesus and He is my Savior, and I have no fear of death,” said Barbara Bush, the wife of former US President George H. W. Bush, to her son before she died. This incredible and confident statement suggests a strong and deep-rooted faith. She experienced God’s gift of peace that comes from knowing Jesus, even when faced with death.
Simeon, a resident of Jerusalem during the first century, also experienced profound peace because of Jesus. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Simeon went to the temple when Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to be circumcised as required by the law for a newborn boy. Although not much is known about Simeon, from Luke’s description one can tell he was a special man of God, just and devout, waiting faithfully for the coming Messiah, and “the Holy Spirit was on him” (Luke 2:25). Yet Simeon did not experience shalom (peace), a deep sense of completeness, until he saw Jesus.
While holding Jesus in his arms, Simeon broke into a song of praise, expressing full satisfaction in God: “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” (vv. 29–31). He had peace because he foresaw the future hope of the whole world.
As we celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the promised Savior, may we rejoice in God’s gift of peace.
Under Jewish law, after the birth of a son the mother was deemed ceremonially unclean for forty days (Leviticus 12:1–5), and the firstborn son of every womb was to be consecrated to God (Exodus 13:2). This requirement was rooted in the tenth plague when the Egyptians’ firstborn sons were killed and Israel’s firstborn sons were preserved (vv. 12–15). Israel’s firstborn sons must be redeemed (Numbers 18:15–16).
After Jesus was born, Joseph brought Mary and Jesus to the temple to fulfill the purification of the mother and the redemption of the firstborn son (Luke 2:22–24). In the temple, the elderly Simeon saw the forty-day-old Jesus. Luke says that “the Holy Spirit was on him” (v. 25), a description used of Old Testament prophets speaking for God (Numbers 11:25; 1 Samuel 10:6, 10; 19:20, 23). Because Anna, who was also in the temple at that time, was “a prophet” (Luke 2:36), scholars surmise that Simeon was a prophet as well.