When the great Dutch painter Rembrandt died unexpectedly at age 63, an unfinished painting was found on his easel. It focuses on Simeon’s emotion in holding the baby Jesus when He was brought to the temple in Jerusalem, 40 days after His birth. Yet the background and normal detail remain unfinished. Some art experts believe that Rembrandt knew the end of his life was near and—like Simeon—was ready to “be dismissed” (Luke 2:29).
The Holy Spirit was upon Simeon (v. 25), so it was no coincidence that he was in the temple when Mary and Joseph presented their firstborn son to God. Simeon, who had been looking for the promised Messiah, took the baby in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, 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: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (vv. 29-32).
Simeon was not longing for the glory days of Israel’s history, but was looking ahead for the promised Messiah, who would come to redeem all nations.
Like Simeon, we can have an expectant, forward look in life because we know that one day we will see the Lord.
Father, may we, like Simeon, be always looking ahead for the appearing of Jesus our Lord.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20
In this passage the Jewishness of Jesus takes center stage. But the encounter with Simeon at the temple was marked by an announcement that would make circumcision, ritual cleansing, and animal sacrifices obsolete (Ex. 13:2, 12; Lev. 12:8). The Messiah has come (Luke 2:29–32).