Simeon and Anna are two fascinating figures in Scripture. This elderly pair are featured briefly in Luke 2, portrayed as examples of righteousness and devoted service to God. Expectantly, they wait for His promises of salvation to land and take hold of their world.
Forty days into his life, Jesus’ parents took him to the Temple. A purification-related offering was to be made by Mary along with a dedication of their firstborn son to God. Not by coincidence, Simeon is present in the Temple that day as well. Through divine revelation, he perceives Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, a figure the Holy Spirit had promised Simeon he would behold before his death. Holding the child and blessing him, Simeon marks the moment by declaring, “My eyes have seen Your salvation.”
But what had Simeon really seen?
- He had seen an infant who cannot hold up his head.
- He had held a Redeemer who is dependent on a teenager’s breast for nourishment and a carpenter’s hand for protection.
- He has lifted a peasant and soon-to-be refugee child, yet he has the audacity to declare that he has beheld God’s salvation.
Am I missing something here?
Beyond the specific Spirit-revelation received by Simeon, I believe this passage identifies one of the paradoxes of faith. By its very nature, faith is not airtight. The holes are not all filled; the gaps are not all bridged. By definition, faith requires trust. It is certainly not blind, but neither is it 20/20. Faith is an odd middle-ground, where we are given just enough, and likely no more.
And faith has always been that way.
- Abraham was told by God to pick up his life and leave his land. For where? “A place that I will show you.” Just enough information to move his feet forward, but not enough that he might sprint to his destination, or even map out the route.
- Moses was instructed, “Go speak to Pharaoh; I will be with you.” Every reasonable objection raised by Moses was met by God’s insistence that He would accompany His servant. No elaboration, no explanation. Moses was to move forward from the burning bush one step at a time with confidence that he did not move alone. And that was to be sufficient.
- Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Give us today our daily bread.” There is no mention of tomorrow, there seems no thought of next week. We are coached to ask for a handful despite our desire to ask for a pantry full. We are urged to live contently with just enough, and not much more.
- Early disciples left careers and communities to respond to three words from Jesus’ mouth: “Come follow me.” No job description, no benefits package. No peek at the last pages of the story. The invitation to come was to be enough for today’s response.
Someone said to me recently that following Jesus is not like him writing up a contract and then asking us to sign. Rather, he asks us to sign a blank sheet of paper, and then he fills in the details afterward.
And if we dare to put our name on that line, to align our lives with his…
- Jesus will lead.
- The Spirit will reveal.
- And the Father will provide.
And at some point, or several, we will find our mouths very naturally forming Simeon’s words, “My eyes have seen your salvation.”