Luke 2:21-38 Retirement

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons”. 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant[d] depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And his father and his mother marvelled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshipping withfasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Retirement

I was talking with someone about retirement and we were asking whether anyone in the Bible truly retires.  There was no welfare system that took an aging person in, changed their diapers, and let them die in obscurity.  A family was inconvenienced by the fact that the aged were all very much in the center of the family until they died.  In the Grohmann Museum in Milwaukee artifacts are gathered that show work through the ages.  One picture shows a family in the fields.  The children run around playfully gathering vegetables, the mother and father diligently glean what they can from the land, grandma is present and contributes what she can although her body is past its strength.  Do we insist that she be carted away because such toil is suffering or do we compliment her on her diligence?

Anna and Simeon were elderly people who faithfully fulfilled a task that God had set before them.  They went to the temple and they were waiting for the hope that would save Israel.  They were common people and they had seen hardship in life.  Anna in particular seems to have led a life of particular pain.  However, it is often through those who endure pain and hardship in order to serve others that particularly meaningful moments occur.  

My mother comes to America and takes care of a 5 year-old and a 2 year-old.  She lives in the lower floor of our house and far from enduring her we are thankful for her.  She is a godly example and some days she is sick and other days she is tired, but on those days she lives out her life before God with patience and gratitude.  If I am able to read to her or sit with her, she does not take it as her right, she lightens up as one who sees God’s grace very easily in a world that is darkened by sin.  Simeon and Anna see blessing, but they see darkness.  When they declare the arrival of a light in the darkness they have credibility because of their life experience.

Prayer

May I be like those who have endured and been faithful.  May I choose the higher road even when it takes something out of me.

Questions

  1. How would you describe Anna and Simeon in your own words?
  2. What is their role in the story of Jesus?
  3. How does God use suffering?
  4. How do you treat those who have reached a ripe old age and still serve God faithfully?
  5. How has suffering revealed your own heart and the heart of God to you?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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