I once heard the story of a monkey at the zoo, which had a Bible in one hand and a copy of Darwin’s Origin of the Species in the other. When asked by the zoo keeper what he was doing, the monkey responded, “I’m trying to decide whether I’m my brother’s keeper, or my keeper’s brother.”
I thought of this story in conjunction with Simeon, who would surely be perplexed at some of the things which he could read today. For example, can you imagine Simeon, a man whom we generally assume to be very advanced in age,35 reading a book on the mid-life crisis? Regardless of the content of the book, I think that Simeon would find such reading incredible. In fact, I am not certain that people ever had mid-life crises until very recently (along with a number of other contemporary maladies). The mid-life crisis, as I understand it, generally comes upon people in their mid-life years because they find that the goals they have set for themselves (or which society has imposed on them) are not being met. The mid-life crisis comes because we see our strengths and potential waning and our goals slipping away unreached.
Simeon and Anna have much to so to our culture, and especially to Christians who are captive to it. The appearance of these two godly saints in the temple, where they recognize and proclaim Jesus as Israel’s Messiah, is the event which Luke chose to highlight as the most significant incident in Christ’s infancy, in addition to the visitation of the shepherds a few days earlier. Their faithfulness in looking for and hastening the coming of the Lord is indeed a rebuke and an encouragement to every Christian. Their goals and priorities and their persistent practice of righteousness are quite frankly in direct opposition to what our culture advocates. Indeed, they are also in opposition to the views and values most prominent and prevalent in our Christian culture. We would do well to ponder this passage, for if we were to follow the example of Simeon and Anna our goals would change, our lifestyles would simplify, and our mid-life crises would vaporize.
The first chapter of Luke’s gospel features the appearance of the forerunner of the Messiah, John the Baptist. Inter-twined with the account of the announcement of his birth and of selected events in his early life is the report of the visitation of Mary by the angel Gabriel, who informed her of the miraculous virgin conception of the child which would be born to her, Israel’s Messiah, the God-man and Mary’s sharing of this with Elizabeth. In verses 1-20 of chapter two Luke has recorded the birth of our Lord and of the angelic announcement of Christ’s birth to the shepherds, who hastened to see the holy child, wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a cattle feeding trough.
The rest of Luke chapter two describes two important incidents in the early life of our Lord, which both took place in the temple at Jerusalem, separated by twelve years. Verses 21-40 focus on Simeon and Anna, who recognize the infant Jesus as Israel’s promised Messiah, and who publicly praise God for this and proclaim this good news to those who are looking for the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people Israel. The final segment of the chapter takes place twelve years later, when Jesus accompanied His parents to Jerusalem, and then remained behind, about His Father’s business in His Father’s house.
The second chapter of Luke contains the only biblical account of the birth of Jesus. Matthew’s gospel supplies the only other biblical account of a childhood incident in the life of the Messiah. He records the arrival of the magi, the paranoia of Herod which caused him to kill the infants in Bethlehem in an effort to murder Messiah, and the flight of the holy family to Egypt, to preserve the child’s life. Bible scholars are not certain as to how the two biblical accounts, those of the magi in Matthew and of Simeon and Anna in Luke, are to be chronologically sequenced. It would appear that immediately after the birth of Jesus, the shepherds visited, that Jesus was soon thereafter circumcised, and then later presented at the temple, where Simeon and Anna appear. The family must have found more permanent lodging (cf. “house” in Matt. 2:11) in Bethlehem, where the magi arrived some time later on, perhaps as much as two years later (cf. Matt. 2:7, 16). The family then escaped to Egypt, and upon their return, they moved to Nazareth, rather than Bethlehem to fulfill the Scriptures (Matt. 2:19-23). Luke does not record some of these intervening events, but simply tells us that Jesus’ family returned to Nazareth (Luke 2:39), which is where most of the Messiah’s growing-up years would have been spent, prior to His visit to Jerusalem at age 12 (Luke 2:41ff.).
It may be well to distinguish the three ceremonies which are referred to in our text because we tend to jumble all of these into one event, rather than seeing them separately, both in time and in ritual. The first ceremony is that of circumcision, referred to in verse 21. This event probably took place where the family lived, and not at the temple. It occurred on the 8th day, as prescribed God directed Abraham (Gen. 17:9-14) and as prescribed by the law of Moses (Lev. 12:3). Associated with the circumcision was the giving of the name of the child (cf. Luke 1:59-63; 2:21).
The presentation of the first-born son is the second ceremony which our text reports.36 This, too, was a requirement of the Law, which Luke cites:
“EVERY first-born MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD” (Luke 2:23; from Exodus 13:2, 12; cf. Num. 18:15-17).
From the context of the passage in Exodus we know that during the final plague which God brought upon Egypt, all the first-born of Egypt were slain, both man and beast, while the first-born of the Israelites (that is, those who applied the blood of the Passover Lamb to their door posts and lintel) lived. The redemption of the first-born was required because the first-born were spared by God and thus belonged to Him. When an Israelite family redeemed their first-born, they were acknowledging that this child belonged to God.
The redemption price for a first-born male Israelite a month or more old was set at five (sanctuary) shekels in Numbers 18:16. Apparently presentation of the first-born never occurred earlier than 31 days after birth.37 Thus, the presentation of the child and the purification of the mother (the third ceremony), could be done on the same visit to the temple.38
The third ceremony was the purification of Mary, required by the Law after the birth of a child. In Leviticus chapter 12 we are told that a woman is ceremonially unclean after the birth of a child. For a boy child the woman is unclean for seven days (12:2), and unable to enter the sanctuary for another 33 days (12:4). For a girl child the time doubles. She is unclean for 14 days and unable to enter the sanctuary for 66 days (12:5). This means that Jesus would have been approximately six weeks old at the time of his presentation. The sacrifice of the two turtledoves indicates that Mary and Joseph were poor people, as this was a provision for the poor (Lev. 12:6-8).
It is the second ceremony, the presentation of Jesus at the temple, which is most prominent in Luke’s account (Luke 2:27). It is on this occasion that Simeon and Anna appear, to attest and announce that the baby Jesus is God’s Messiah, the Savior of the world.
The circumcision of the Christ-child is not prominent in the passage, but it is noteworthy. First, this record attests to the fact that the parents of our Lord “performed everything according to the Law of the Lord” (Luke 2:39). Second, the circumcision of Christ parallels that of John, described earlier (Luke 1:59ff.). Finally, it was at the circumcision of Christ that His name was formally given. The name, Jesus, which had been specified before His birth, both to Joseph and to Mary:
“And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus” (Luke 1:31).
The Hebrew form of the name Jesus is “Jeshua” (cf. Joshua), derived by the combination of two root words, meaning “the Lord” and “to save.” Thus, the Jesus meant “the Lord is salvation.” I believe that the name Jesus, which Luke tells us was formally given the Savior at the time of His circumcision, was one of the indications to Simeon that this child, Jesus (the Lord’s salvation), was the promised Messiah. Thus Simeon says,
“For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation” [i.e. Jesus, the Lord’s salvation] (Luke 2:30).
It is in conjunction with the presentation of Jesus at the temple that both Simeon and Anna appear, and speak words of divine inspiration, identifying the Christ-child as God’s Messiah. Let us consider these two noble saints in order to discover what it is about them which Luke finds worthy of a place of honor in this rare incident in his account of Christ’s childhood.
Simeon is a man that is something like the old testament character, Melchizedek, in that he suddenly appears out of nowhere. We are told very little about this man Simeon. We do not know from what tribe he is a descendent, although it would appear that he was an Israelite.40 We know nothing about his family, whether he was married or had any children. We are told nothing about his occupation, but it does not appear that he was a priest, for he was directed of the Holy Spirit to go to the temple.
The only things we are told about Simeon are those things which matter most to God—things which pertain to his faith and his character, things while tell about his relationship with God. We are told that Simeon was righteous and devout (v. 25), which speak of his personal walk with God and his integrity among men.41 He was further a man of faith and hope, for he “looked for the consolation of Israel,” an expression which summarizes the faith of the Old Testament saint in the promises of God concerning the restoration of Israel through the coming of her Messiah.
Finally, Simeon was a man who was filled by the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit who had revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ (v. 26), God’s Anointed One, Israel’s Messiah. It was also the Holy Spirit that directed Simeon to the temple on the particular day that Jesus’ parents brought Him to be presented to the Lord. Finally, in some unspecified way, it was the Spirit of God who revealed to Simeon that this child was indeed the Messiah. No doubt the name Jesus was one evidence, but there must have been further confirmation, for there were no doubt many sons given this special name.
The precise means by which Simeon was enabled to recognize this six-week old child as distinct from all others is not told us, for Luke is not so much interested that we know how He was recognized, but that He was identified by a godly man, a man filled with the Spirit of God, as the Lord’s Christ.
Recognizing Jesus to be the Messiah, this elderly man took the child in his arms and blessed God. After a lifetime of seeking Messiah, one can hardly imagine the joy that was Simeon’s at this moment in time. Think of it, a man who knew that God held him in the palm of His hand, now holds God in his arms! The all-powerful God is a tiny baby, seemingly without any power at all. Simeon’s words of praise express the deep joy that was his at this moment, a joy which so utterly filled and completed his life he was ready to die:
“Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart42 In peace, according to Thy word; For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation” (Luke 2:29-30a).
The salvation which Simeon saw, was not seen by him alone, however, and so he hastens to add that it is a salvation that will be seen and shared by many:
“For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, Which Thou has prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32).
The things to which Simeon was a witness were not hidden from other men. Others may not have recognized them as the work of God, but all Jerusalem, we are told by Matthew, knew of the Messiah which the magi sought, but rather than to rejoice the people were “troubled” (Matt. 2:3). So far as we are told, no one from Jerusalem made the relatively easy trip to Bethlehem to see the holy child that was born, which was testified to by the star in the east.
While Simeon was a devout Jew, he did not view the Messiah’s coming as only for the benefit of Israel. The Messiah, as Israel’s King, who would “sit on the throne of His father David,” was Israel’s glory, but Messiah was also a “light of revelation to the Gentiles.” That is, Messiah came as God’s salvation to all men, not just to the Jews. This truth was taught in the Old Testament, and Simeon’s words seem to reveal his knowledge of such Old Testament prophecies of a salvation for Gentiles as well as for Israel. For example, consider these texts, with which Simeon was likely familiar, and to which he may have been alluding in his praise:
The LORD has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God (Ps. 98:2-3).
“I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon, And those who dwell in darkness from the prison. I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give my glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.” Isa. 42:6-8 (cf. 49:6)
The LORD has bared His holy arm In the sight of all the nations; That all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God (Isa. 52:10).
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isa. 60:1-3).
Imagine the impact which the actions and affirmations of Simeon must have had on Joseph and Mary. Luke simply summarizes this with the words,
“And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him” (Luke 2:33).
Amazed. Little wonder. Surely there must have been times when the parents of Jesus wanted to say to those who saw Him and remarked, “Cute child,” “Listen, this is no ordinary child, this is the Savior of the World!” But it is quite another thing when a man who was probably a total stranger walks up and proclaims you child, a child who looks like any other six-week old boy, to be the Messiah of God.
Perhaps in response to the amazed look on the faces of Mary and Joseph, Simeon went on to bless them, and to direct a very specific prophecy to Mary:
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 hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).
Did the fact that Simeon spoke only to Mary, while he blessed both Mary and Joseph indicate a veiled prophecy of Joseph’s death?43 At least we see a striking accuracy in the words of Simeon.
Up to this point in time, all of the inspired utterances pertaining to the Lord Jesus have been very positive, speaking with reference to His ruling on David’s throne, setting right the things which are wrong, and bringing peace and salvation to men. But now Simeon unveils the other side of the story, which is also a part of the Old Testament prophecies, such as those of Psalm 22 or Isaiah 53, prophecies of the rejection, crucifixion and death of Messiah, prophecies of His substitutionary atonement. Thus Simeon’s prophecy views the coming of Christ as revealing the hearts of men, and of dividing men, so that on account of Him some will rise44 and some will fall. More pointedly, Simeon’s words prepare Mary for the grief she must suffer, as the rejection of Her Son by men will cause her to witness His death on the cross. Truly this will be a sword that will pierce her soul.
Anna is a truly remarkable woman. While we are told less about what she actually said, we are given more information about her background than Simeon’s. Anna was an Israelite, of the tribe of Asher, one of the ten “lost tribes” of Israel, which were scattered in the Assyrian captivity. She was also a prophetess. She was a very aged woman, at least 84 years old, depending on how we understand Luke’s words. She was married for 7 years before her husband died, and had lived the rest of her life as a widow. Day and night she was in the temple, praying and fasting. For what was she praying and fasting? Luke does not tell us, but it is obvious that she, like Simeon, was looking for the coming of Messiah. I believe that Anna understood from the Old Testament that the “day of the Lord” was a day of divine judgment, and that Messiah would come to deal with Israel’s sin. Thus, her prayer and fasting was evidence of her mourning for the sins of Israel.
Consider the prayers and fasting of Anna in the light of these words from the prophet Joel:
Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near, A day of darkness and gloom. A day of clouds and thick darkness… “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping, and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, And relenting of evil. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him … (Joel 2:1-2a, 12-14a).
Anna was evidently a very godly woman, a woman who was very aware of Israel’s sins, a woman who was looking for and hastening the coming of Messiah. The details of Anna’s life are not given to satisfy our curiosity, but as clues to her character. I believe that Luke intended the reader to infer the incredible character of this woman by considering the details he has supplied. As a young widow, the natural thing for Anna to have done would be to remarry. She must have had many such opportunities. As a member of the lost tribe of Asher, there must have been a strong incentive to marry and bear children, since this tribe may have been in danger of extinction. Her greatest womanly contribution, as well as her womanly fulfillment, would seem to have been marriage and child-bearing. Nevertheless, she remained single, lived out her life in the temple, occupied with prayer and fasting.
Simeon had been divinely guided to the temple; Anna was nearly always there. Thus she “happened” to come upon the scene of Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus and Simeon, just at the time Simeon was identifying the child as God’s Messiah. She, too, began giving thanks to God. More than this, she began to broadcast the good news to all those who were, like she and Simeon, looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. The fact that she was already known as a prophetess gave her testimony even greater impact.
Luke had many incidents which he could have recorded for Christians, yet he chose the presentation of Jesus and the proclamations of Simeon and Anna. What was his purpose in including this account in his divinely inspired record, where there would have to be compelling reasons for inclusion in Scripture? What was the message of this text to the saints of his day, and to us as well? Let us consider the purpose of this passage. We will begin by making several observations.
(1) The incident takes place in the temple. The presentation of Jesus would normally have occurred at the temple in Jerusalem, but there is special significance to His appearance at the temple, both at the time of his presentation and at the age of 12. The Old Testament prophets had spoken of the appearance of God’s Messiah at the temple:
“‘Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:1).
Jesus’ first visit to the temple in Jerusalem, as recorded by John’s gospel (John 2:13-25), commenced with the cleansing of the temple, and with strong words of rebuke, just as one well acquainted with the Old Testament prophecies concerning Messiah’s appearance would have expected. Jesus’ first appearance at the temple, which occurred at the time of His presentation, was a very significant event.
(2) The inspired utterances of Simeon and Anna completely overshadowed the ceremony of Christ’s presentation. The occasion for the appearance of our Lord at the temple was His presentation, but nothing is actually said about this ceremony. We have no record here of the ritual, nor are we given the names of any of the priests involved in the ceremony. We are only told of Simeon and Anna, and of their proclamations. It is not the ceremony, the ritual of the presentation of Jesus which is most important, but the proclamation of these two saints.
(3) While the primary intent of Joseph and Mary was to fulfill the requirements of the Law pertaining to the birth of Jesus (cf. Luke 2:39), the purpose of the passage is to disclose two more divinely inspired proclamations of the identity of this child as God’s Messiah. The essence of the actions of Simeon and Anna was to identify the child as the Messiah, God’s Anointed One, God’s Salvation. Functionally, the utterances of Simeon and Anna informed the godly Israelites, those looking for the Messiah, that He had come.
(4) Simeon and Anna are highlighted for their godliness, and are described as model disciples, whom we should seek to imitate so far as their goals and priorities are concerned. Humanly speaking, Simeon and Anna had little to commend them. They were apparently not people of position or power. They were not the “shakers and movers” of that day. It is my personal opinion that to many of the officials of the temple, Simeon and Anna were looked upon as eccentrics, whose devotion was futile. After all, couldn’t these people do something useful, especially Anna, who was there every day, but only had time for prayer.
I am inclined to think that the religious officials looked even with disdain on people like Anna. She was always there, always under foot. And her kind of super-spirituality was probably viewed as creating an unspiritual environment. After all, if she was mourning over and confessing Israel’s sins, then she was backhandedly condemning the religious leaders. Since Anna was a widow, and the Lord condemned the religious leaders for taking advantage of widows (e.g. “you devour widows’ houses,” Matt. 23:14), Anna may well have been a victim of the religious leaders with whom she continually came in contact.
There are many ways in which this text and particularly the lives of Simeon and Anna apply to contemporary Christian living. The first is as a reminder of what really matters in life. For Simeon, his occupation was not the most important thing, for we are not even told what his life’s work was. It was not even “full-time Christian service,” which some think to be the ultimate calling in life. What set Simeon apart for many others, including the religious leaders at the temple (none of them are so much as named in this account), was that he was a mean who trusted in God, who obeyed His Word, who looked for His kingdom, and who was indwelt and led by the Holy Spirit. What ultimately mattered in Anna’s life was not marriage or family, but faithfulness to God. The seemingly unproductive activities of prayer and fasting, proclamation and praise was, and still is, most important. The early church devoted itself to such activities (cf. Acts 2-4). The apostles made prayer and the proclamation of God’s Word the priority of their ministry (cf. Acts 6:1-6).
The coming of the kingdom of God was the one great hope, the one great motivation, the one great occupation of these two saints, and it should be ours as well. Our Lord taught us that we should pray,
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
Peter also wrote,
“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” (2 Pet. 3:11-12).
And to which John adds,
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And every one who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:2-3).
The last book of the Bible is a record of the events which will occur in the last days, at which time the Lord will come and establish His eternal kingdom. His coming should be preoccupation of our lives. Anna holds very high God’s standards for singles, as well as holding high the great privilege and calling of the single life. We very quickly pass by Paul’s encouragement in 1 Corinthians 7 to consider the single life, but Anna is living testimony to the great contribution people can make who devote their lives to God. No wonder Paul can instruct the churches to financially support such women (cf. 1 Tim. 5:3-10).
This is not to say that everyone should attempt to imitate Anna, for so far as we know Simeon was a married man, perhaps a family man, who likely held a secular job and was thus much more involved in the workaday world. Nevertheless, his highest priority was loving and serving God, and so at the Spirit’s leading, he was a the temple, where he was enabled to recognize and proclaim God’s Messiah.
This passage reveals the quality of the life of the Christian, who has come to grips with death, and whose faith is in a God who raises the dead. Simeon was ready, perhaps even eager to die, for now that he had seen God’s Messiah, he was ready to leave his earthly dwelling behind, knowing that God’s promises were for the living and the dead. How sad it was this very week to hear the news reports of the well-known evangelist who said that God would take his life if 8 million dollars were not donated by this March. Why the frantic effort to stay alive if one’s faith is in God. Simeon was ready to face death because he had seen God’s Messiah; we should be ready to face death for in so doing we will see Him. As Paul himself wrote, citing the Old Testament, death no longer has any sting (1 Cor. 15:55; Hos. 13:14).
How eager are you to see the Messiah “face to face”? How do you confront the inevitability of death? Does life hold for you one single, dominating purpose? For the Christian, the Lord Jesus Christ is the focal point of life, the governing principle and priority of life. If you have not trusted in Him as God’s Messiah, I urge you to heed the testimony of Simeon and Anna, and to trust in Jesus Christ as God’s Messiah, the One who came to save all who would call upon Him, and to trust Him as God’s only means of salvation, by bearing your punishment on the cross of Calvary, and by rising from the dead.
35 It has been correctly pointed out that we are not given the age of Simeon, but only of Anna. We are not even told that Simeon was elderly, but only the he was ready to die. Nevertheless, we infer that he was elderly, like Anna, and I think rightly so. The only surprise to me is that Luke supplies us with the age of the woman, but not of the man.
36 I am inclined to agree with Talbert, that Jesus may not have been “redeemed” in precisely the same sense as every other first-born Hebrew boy: “Contrary to normal custom, Jesus was dedicated to God and remained his property (Bo Reicke, “Jesus, Simeon, and Anna [Luke 2:21-40],” in Saved By Hope, ed. J. I. Cook [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978], pp. 96-108, esp. p. 100). The closest parallel to this emphasis is found in 1 Samuel 1-2, where Hannah gives Samuel, at his birth, to the Lord for as long as the child lives. Consequently, Samuel lives in the presence of Eli at the tent of meeting. If Jesus, in a similar manner, was dedicated to God and not redeemed, he belonged to God permanently.” Charles H. Talbert, Reading Luke: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Third Gospel (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1984), p. 36.
39 Morris writes, “… this little song is known by its opening words in the Latin, namely Nunc Dimittis.” Leon Morris, The Gospel According To St. Luke, The Tyndale Bible Commentary Series, R. V. G. Tasker, General Editor (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), p. 88.
Of the “Numc Dimittis” Plummer writes, “The Nunc Dimittis. In its suppressed rapture and vivid intensity this canticle equals the most beautiful of the Psalms. Since the fifth century it has been used in the evening services of the Church (Apost. Const. vii 48), and has often been the hymn of dying saints. It is the sweetest and most solemn of all the canticles.” Alfred Plummer, The Gospel According to S. Luke, The International Critical Commentary Series, (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1969), p. 67.
40 The fact that he was in Jerusalem, that he was familiar with the Old Testament, as is revealed in his psalm, that he was “righteous and devout,” and that he was “looking for the consolation of Israelite,” all point in the direction of his being an Israelite.
43 Joseph, you will recall, was included in the account of Jesus’ disappearance in the last section of Luke chapter 2, but from that time on Joseph is never again named. Also, Jesus gave John the responsibility for caring for his mother in His last moments on the cross (John 19:26-27). This has led most Bible students to conclude that Joseph died sometime after the 12th birthday of Jesus and before His public ministry began. Simeon’s prophecy shows an uncanny precision at this point, one which I am inclined to see as inferentially prophetic.