Hope is something you must have to continue living. It has been said, “A person can live 40days without food, 3days without water, 5minutes without air, but not a second without hope.” There are two godly persons, full of hope, mentioned in the story of Jesus when he was presented to the Lord in Jerusalem. Simeon and Prophetess Anna. Read the whole story in Luke 2:21-38.
Simeon was a righteous and devout man in Jerusalem; and “He was waiting for the consolation of Israel” that is- looking forward to the fulfillment of the Messianic hope. This hope gave him purpose to live each day in expectation.
We are also told the Holy Spirit was upon him and it had been revealed to him that he would not die before he has seen the Christ (anointed one of God).
God reveals himself to those who earnestly seek him. He satisfies the thirst and hunger of those who long for him.
When Jesus was presented to him, he took him in his arms and praised the Lord: for fulfilling his promise, for enabling him to see God’s salvation for his people Israel and Gentiles. He saw beyond a baby; in Jesus, he saw God’s grand plan of salvation.
Having seen his aspiration fulfilled, Simeon asked for one thing: to be dismissed in peace. Jesus was everything that he had hoped for. To him, Jesus is the single greatest treasure that the merchant found and sold everything he had to acquire. The fulfillment of Messianic prophecy before his eyes fulfilled every longing in his heart that he now readily desired death.
The Greek word translated dismiss/depart (ἀπολύεις) has several background that enrich its shade of meaning. It means to release a prisoner, to untie a ship and set sail, to take down a tent, and to unyoke a beast of burden. Death to a believer is a release from the burdens of this life to rest in the next life. Like Simeon, we can only be ready to meet our Maker when we have seen/experienced the salvation of God.
Likewise, prophetess Anna was godly old widow who spent her time in the temple. She “worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” Lk 2:37. At the sight of the child, she gave thanks to God and spoke of the child as the fulfillment of the longing of those who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
It is no doubt that these two godly people lived in a hopeless time. All around them, Greco-Roman context, were empty philosophies, religion was amoral, impersonal and polytheistic. Hope in Roman politics and security was futile and disappointing. Monotheistic religions like Judaism were plagued by the legalism of the Pharisees, withdrawal of the Essence and the half-truths of the Sadducees. These two were examples of few remnants that chose to put their hope in God’s intervention and fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. The two chose to have hope in God’s word.
In a world faced with war, terrorism, hatred, diseases, violence, what should be our hope? When we see evil in the world or even in the church what should be our response? Like Simeon and Anna, we need to focus on living godly lives. In addition, we should live in anticipation to the second coming of Jesus and the revelation of God’s eternal kingdom. That is a kingdom of joy, peace, and righteousness. Jesus taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come” and Maranatha (Please Lord Come!). Therefore Christmas celebration reminds us to hope in God, to look into the future with anticipation of God’s triumph over evil.