4. First eye-witnesses of Messiah Jesus

A Bible study by Paula Yingst …

After 400 years without a prophetic word through His prophets, the Lord God is no longer silent.
  • He spoke to Zechariah,  the elderly priest, and his wife Elizabeth (Luke 1:1-25, 36-45, 37-80) through the archangel Gabriel.
  • He spoke to Mary, the virgin who was betrothed to Joseph, direct descendant of King David (Luke 1:26-56) through the archangel Gabriel.
  • He spoke to Joseph, Mary’s betrothed (Matthew 1:18-25, 13-15) through an angel of the Lord in dreams.
  • He spoke to shepherds working in fields near the site of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:8-20) through an angel of the Lord and a company of angels.
  • He spoke to Magi from the east (Matthew 1:1-12) through the study of astronomy and comparison with ancient prophecies related to the birth of the Jewish Messiah.

All of those individuals are a relatively well known part of the Christmas story. But unless you were raised in a Christian church, you probably don’t know about two very important eye-witnesses who met Jesus as an infant, in between the visits from the shepherds and (later) the wise men. Their names were Simeon and Anna

(From the Hebrew Bible)

On the eighth day, when it was time for his b’rit-milah, he was given the name Yeshua [Jesus], which is what the angel had called him before his conception. When the time came for their purification according to the Torah of Moshe [Moses; Exodus 13:2,12], they took him up to Yerushalayim [Jerusalem] to present him to Adonai [the Lord God] (as it is written in the Torah of Adonai [the Law of the Lord], ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to Adonai) and also to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the Torah of Adonai [Leviticus 12:8].

There was in Yerushalayim a man named Shim‘on [Simeon]. This man was a tzaddik, he was devout, he waited eagerly for God to comfort Isra’el, and the Ruach HaKodesh [Holy Spirit] was upon himIt had been revealed to him by the Ruach HaKodesh that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah of Adonai. Prompted by the Spirit, he went into the Temple courts; and when the parents brought in the child Yeshua to do for him what the Torah required, Shim‘on took him in his arms, made a b’rakhah to God, and said,

 “Now, Adonai, according to your word,

your servant is at peace as you let him go;
for I have seen with my own eyes your yeshu‘ah,
which you prepared in the presence of all peoples —
a light that will bring revelation to the Goyim [Gentiles, non-descendants of  Jacob; all people] and glory to your people Isra’el.”

Yeshua’s father and mother were marveling at the things Shim‘on was saying about him. Shim‘on blessed them and said to the child’s mother, Miryam,

‘This child will cause many in Isra’el to fall and to rise,
he will become a sign whom people will speak against;
moreover, a sword will pierce your own heart too.
All this will happen in order to reveal many people’s inmost thoughts.’

There was also a prophet named Hannah [Anna, daughter of] Bat-P’nu’el, of the tribe of Asher. She was a very old woman — she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage and had remained a widow ever since; now she was eighty-four. She never left the Temple grounds but worshiped there night and day, fasting and praying. She came by at that moment and began thanking God and speaking about the child to everyone who was waiting for Yerushalayim [Jerusalem] to be liberated.

When Yosef and Miryam had finished doing everything required by the Torah of Adonai, they returned to the Galil, to their town Natzeret.

The child grew and became strong and filled with wisdom — God’s favor was upon him.

(Luke 2:21-40, The Complete Jewish Bible)

*   *   *

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: The Lord God chose the men and women — and angels — He would speak through to reveal the fulfillment of ancient prophecies foretelling the FACT that He still loved and cared about the people He had chosen — the descendants of Jacob / ISRAEL. And as Simeon confirmed, the Lord also loves and cares about ALL people. He said that Yeshua / Jesus would be a light of revelation even to those who had turned their backs on God, going as far back as the sin-tainted children produced by Adam and Eve.

As a matter of fact, God did not forget about those folks. The apostle Peter wrote this:

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”  — Simon Peter (1 Peter 3:18-22, NIV)

Do you believe it?