After Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph stayed in Bethlehem until it was time for His dedication. They walked the two hour distance to Jerusalem and brought Jesus into the temple, for a special ceremony all Jewish parents did to dedicate their sons to God.
They announced that the baby’s name would be Jesus, just as the angel had told them to name Him, gave a pair of doves to the priest as a gift, and presented Him to the Lord.
There was a man in the temple named Simeon. He had been living in Jerusalem for some time and believed all the promises God had made through His prophets that the Messiah was coming.
When Simeon prayed to God every day, he poured out his heart to Him, sharing how he longed for God to rescue His people. The Spirit of God came to him and promised him that before he died he would actually get to see the Messiah. The same day that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple, the Holy Spirit told Simeon to go to the temple.
When he arrived, he saw the baby being dedicated. He walked right up to them, took the baby Jesus in his arms and began praising God.
“Now I can finally die in peace!” he declared. “Lord, You kept your promise to me. You have allowed me to see the Savior. Soon He will be seen by all Israel, and other countries, too.”
Mary and Joseph just stood there in shock. They didn’t know what to think of Simeon’s words.
Turning to Mary, Simeon told her “Your baby will be like a warning sign to all of Israel. But many people will ignore the warning and reject Him. When that happens, your heart will break. But He will reveal what is really in people’s hearts.”
As if this was not already surprising enough for Mary and Joseph to hear, another prophet was in the temple with them. Her name was Anna, and she was incredibly old. She had lived in the temple for decades, praying and fasting.
Anna declared that Jesus was a gift from God. “Do you want to see Jerusalem be set free from our Roman rulers?” she asked the people. “This is the rescuer we have waited for. Our Savior.”