And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 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. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
A Light of revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Rembrandt did several paintings of Simeon and Jesus as an infant, including one with both Simeon and Anna. Simeon in the Temple above was Rembrandt’s very last painting, unfinished at the time of his death. Was he able to depart in peace? We don’t know. He had a profligate lifestyle, yet one of his other final paintings was his masterpiece depicting forgiveness, The Return of the Prodigal Son. Did it reflect Rembrandt’s repentance and turning to God? Did he know he was ready to depart in peace? Or did he leave more than a painting unfinished?
Simeon knew he would depart in peace; he had seen the Lord’s Christ, Jesus. Have you?
Simeon in the Temple, 1669: Rembrandt. Public domain.
“Now That I’ve Held Him In My Arms,” Michael Card