Mary and Joseph had been told by angels that their son was no ordinary boy, but like all firstborn sons, they took Him to the temple at the appointed time to be consecrated to the Lord. While there, they received more extraordinary signs that Jesus is indeed special.
At the temple the small family met Simeon and Anna, two righteous Jews who had waited expectantly for the redemption of their people for their entire lives. That one hope—the coming of God’s kingdom on earth—had been the animating force of their lives. And while both were nearing the end of their days on earth, the Holy Spirit had promised Simeon he would not die before meeting his Savior.
We don’t know if anyone else was watching or, if they were, that onlookers would have known what was happening—that Simeon’s steadfast righteousness was being rewarded by a glimpse of the baby in his arms. Surely there were tears in Simeon’s eyes as he praised God, “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” (vv. 30–31).
Mary and Joseph’s reaction—amazement—to Simeon’s prayer of thanksgiving reminds us that while these new parents knew the prophesies about the Messiah, they didn’t necessarily know how that would translate into the practicalities of parenting the young Jesus. Simeon offered a word to further prepare the parents for what was to come—Jesus would bear fruit at a great cost to many, including Mary and Joseph. Mary would certainly suffer, perhaps as early as Jesus’s twelfth year (2:41–51), but certainly during His public ministry and death (8:19–20; 23:49; Acts 1:14).