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Chap ii. ver. 25--38.
SIMEON AND ANNA PROPHESY OF CHRIST.
25. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel : and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
Let us not deceive ourselves. If we are not just and devout, we are in no proper state of mind becoming those, who wait for the consolation of Israel. But this is not all: we must look for redemption and salvation by Jesus Christ. Though Simeon was just and devout, redemption and salvation by Jesus Christ must be his consolation.
26. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27. And he came by the Spirit into the temple : and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
28. Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Simeon had been looking and longing for this blessed time. He had Christ in his heart before, and it was all joy to have him in his arms. What makes Christ welcome to any, but the desire of him? Salvation by Christ is nothing to those who desire anything more, and live for some other end. He commands us to seek salvation, in the first place. The man is undone, who seeks it only in the second.
29. Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word :
This was a lively faith! Happy is the man, who can say, at the hour of death, as the aged Simeon did, “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace."
30. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
The same faith can always speak the same words. “It is the evidence of things not seen," Heb. xi. 1, and makes them present to the eye of our mind.
31. Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
The Lord has prepared, and designed his salvation for all; he hath published and offered it for the benefit of all. He offers it to all here present. None need to come short of it. You would think it hard indeed, if God had said, you
should have no share in it. Pronounce not this curse against yourselves.
32. A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
When Simeon spoke these words, all that lived in this place and country were Gentiles, or heathens, without hope, and without God in the world. What are we now? We are either still in darkness, or we are light in the Lord. Many plead hard for ignorance, and say, they cannot know, and wilfully shut their eyes against the light.
The salvation of God chiefly belonged to his people Israel, was first offered to them, and through them conveyed to all others. We are only grafts upon their stock. This was glory enough for them. They have lost it now, but it is reserved for them, and they will be recovered to it "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead ?” Rom. xi. 15.
33. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
With pious wonder, or partly in the dark. They did not know everything concerning him. More was revealed to Simeon by prophecy than they could know without : nor is it anywhere said, that they had this gift.
34. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sigu which shall be spoken against;
Many would stumble at this stone, yet to many
he would be a chief corner stone, elect, precious. 1 Pet. ii. 6. Remember what Christ says: “On whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Matt. xxi. 44. Or, many, though they fall, yet through him shall rise again.
35. (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Who knows what this piercing, sharp sword means ? Let not the most highly-favoured think to escape without trouble, inward or outward, or both. At such times, think of the sword in Mary's soul.
Christ is the revealer of the heart to itself: so long as it is unsearched, and hidden to itself, it is certainly corrupt.
36. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phannel, of the tribe of Aser : she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity ; 37. And she was a widow of abont fourscore and four
years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
Here is another instance of one devoted to God in great strictness, during a long widowhood, and yet looking farther, namely, for the promised redemption of Israel. Christ alone saves all. “ No man cometh unto the Father but by him." John xiv. 6. Think of this, that you may be upon a right foundation. Read and consider the eleventh article of the Church of England—“Of the justification of Man."
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works, or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the “ Homily of Justification.”
Chap. ii. ver. 39–52.
CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE.
39. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
40. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom : and the grace of God was upon him.
The human nature, even in the blessed Jesus, could do nothing without the grace of God. The same grace can, and must be, all in all in us. Do we fall down upon our knees for it, day by day ?
41. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the
passover. 42. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
43. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem ; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
44. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
45. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking hiin.
The parents of Jesus seem not to have been prepared to admit the divine character which began so early to show itself in Jesus. Alas ! how slow we are to learn lessons of spiritual instruction !- Edit.
46. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
Who would not have wished to have been present at that
time? Who would not have been interested in the questions he put to the doctors, and the answers he returned to the questions which those learned persons put to him ! Alas! this however would be but a vain, empty wish, if we do not hear him now speaking to us, in his word, where all is told us that is needful for our salvation.
47. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
48. And when they saw him, they were amazed : and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thon thus dealt with us ? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me ? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business ?
His parents seem not to have known this : and, probably, this was the first hint which he gave them of his great business in the world.
50. And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
It appears strange to us, that they knew no more of Christ, and his office, than it seems they did. But the meanest Christians now may know more of him than his parents could then, without an immediate revelation, which it does not appear they had.
51. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them : but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
The subjection of Christ furnishes an example of obedience to parents. Christ, who knew him self to be the Son of God, did not refuse to be subject to Joseph and Mary: she indeed marked these circumstances, and compared them with those things which the angel told her before Jesus was born.
52. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
So may we increase in wisdom and favour with God, by