Simeon holding baby Jesus
Six weeks had passed since the angels had announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. Now it was time for Him to be taken to the Temple in Jerusalem to be dedicated to God.
Once again Mary rode on the back of the old donkey. This time she carried baby Jesus in her arms, while Joseph walked out in front of them holding the donkey's reins and leading the way.
When they arrived in Jerusalem, the entrance to the Temple was packed with people pushing and shoving and trying to get in all at once.
Then out of the crowd stepped an elderly gentleman. He had a happy smiling face and he came toward them with his arms outstretched in a welcoming manner.
He introduced himself as "Simeon" and asked permission to hold baby Jesus. He must have had a grandfatherly look about him, because Mary said yes, of course he could have a hold.
As Simeon took baby Jesus in his arms, he instantly recognised Jesus' special-ness. "I have waited so long for God to keep His Promise." he told Mary and Joseph excitedly.
"He promised me I wouldn't die until I'd seen the Messiah (the Saviour of the world) and now I have! For this baby of yours, He's the one! He's a gift from God to us all."
Holding baby Jesus out in front of him, Simeon lifted his eyes heavenwards and prayed. "I thank You, Lord God that I have lived long enough to see the babe who will one day save the world from sin. Now, I can die in peace."
Simeon handed baby Jesus back to Mary and said to her, "through this child of yours many will find hope, but many will also reject Him and you Mary," he said, tears filling his eyes while he looked at her, "will feel great sorrow in your heart."
Many years later when Mary stood at the foot of the Cross at Calvary, looking up at Jesus as He hung there, suffering and bleeding and finally dying for the sin of the world, she remembered Simeon's words and wept.
Just as Mary took baby Jesus back from Simeon, a very old lady, all hunched up, shuffled her way over to her.
Her name was "Anna," she told Mary and Joseph and she too asked could she hold baby Jesus.
Anna had been a widow for many years and never left the Temple area. She told them that she spent all her time there in prayer and telling everyone who would listen, that one day God would send His promised Messiah.
"God be praised!" Anna said in her quavering old voice as she gazed lovingly into baby Jesus' face, tears of happiness streaming down her wrinkled cheeks. "I know through this child, God will set us free!"
After Anna handed baby Jesus back to Mary, she shuffled her way slowly throughout the Temple praising God and telling all who would listen to her, that she had seen the Messiah, the Saviour of the world!