Was Joseph struggling with doubts about the father of Jesus? It was easier for Mary to believe. She knew she hadn’t been with a man. But negative thoughts could have came to Joseph. “Hey, doesn’t Jesus look like Billy Bob down at the market? Wasn’t Billy Bob kinda sweet on Mary?” Why couldn’t young Joseph have doubts? Even John the Baptist, while in prison, asked to be reassured that Jesus was really who He said He was. John the Baptist saw the heavens open up and heard God speak over Jesus. So, it’s certainly plausible that Joseph could have had nagging thoughts of doubt which needed quieted. Little did he and Mary know that two older folks, who had been around the block and seen a few things, were going to solidify in their minds exactly what God had said.
Mary and Joseph went to dedicate their son, Jesus, in the synagogue just as they had been taught. First, they ran into Simeon who was a very old man. God had given him a dream and Simeon was not going to die until it came to pass. God had promised that he would see the Messiah. So, Simeon had set his mind. God gave him the gift of hope. And, there, right before his very eyes this young couple had his dream in their arms. He didn’t shy away from these young whippersnappers. He went to them. He was not ashamed of his gray hair and slow and unsteady gait. He didn’t back off because he was hard of hearing. He went to them.
Next, Anna came. She was a widow and she was very old, 105 according to some experts. She was also brave. She knew who she was. She was not ashamed of being without a husband. And, she wasn’t ashamed because she was old. She could see and hear God. She knew the power of her words to this young couple. She went to them. She declared hope into their lives and to others who were listening around them.
God sent these two old people to reassure the couple that Jesus was really what they had been told. Their words were re-assuring to Joseph. Mary hadn’t “messed around” on him. On days that doubts came to Mary, she was able to always fall back on the fact that she had Jesus without being with a man. He had to be what God said He was. But Joseph didn’t have that absolute. The enemy could have planted lies in Joseph’s mind. Lies such as “Mary lied to you. How do you know that Billy Bob hadn’t finally had his way with Mary? Mary’s just scared and is trying to trick you” and so on. Nope! These two old folks came to the couple, lifted Jesus up and confirmed God’s word to Mary and Joseph. Simeon and Anna had both been born for such a time and it came at the later part of their lives.
Anna and Simeon were able to breathe new life and give hope to this young couple who had years of life ahead of them. Joseph and Mary needed them desperately and the timing was perfect. Simeon went first. He took the baby in his arms and praised God, declared over their lives, and blessed them (Luke 2:29). Did he go first because he was a man so that he could put Joseph’s mind at rest? Only then could Joseph receive the blessing? The Bible says that Mary and Joseph were surprised at what Simeon had said. What was it that surprised them? I wonder if he spoke direct and true about doubts and whispers that were going on about these two millennials who broke tradition and got married anyway.
Then, the prophet Anna lifted Jesus up, made declarations, and praised God. She spoke to everyone there who hoped for the Messiah. Did she speak directly to the people about their whispering? How many of Joseph’s and Mary’s friends were shying away from them? Could this young couple have friends over or go to their friends homes for a barbecue and work on each other’s houses?
These two Baby Boomers quieted the questioning whispers. Simeon and Anna were highly respected. Their praising and declarations in the temple were exactly what was needed. The accusing whispers put pressure on Joseph and Mary and their friends. Now that these two Baby Boomers had spoken, it gave strength, hope, and encouragement that everything was going to be ok. And, not just ok. Jesus was the promised Messiah! No reason for down in the mouth faces and attitudes! It was a time for rejoicing! Their joy had been stolen with rumors and lies. God used Simeon and Anna to bring back joy to all!
What a good day at church that must have been. And, the day would have never happened if all four of these people hadn’t acted on what they could hear God telling them to do (Psalms 40:6-8). Their good deeds pleased God in Heaven and He rewarded their obedience. Mary and Joseph could have let the challenges of the morning getting ready for church with a baby keep them home. Anna and Simeon could have let the arthritis and struggle to get to church keep them away as well. All four of them went. And, because they went, they were rewarded. The young couple were able to go home and have a stronger marriage and family where Jesus could grow strong, be filled with wisdom and have the favor of God upon him. The two Baby Boomers could go home re-assured once again of God’s goodness in their lives excited that their dreams in their old age had come true. They could feel the satisfaction of God still working in their lives. They made a difference.
What would have happened if Simeon and Anna had not gone to church? What if they hadn’t realized their position of influence? Worse yet, what if Simeon and Anna had been ashamed of being old. What if they thought “Oh, we’re too old and slow. Nobody wants to hear us. Nobody cares.” They would have missed their destiny. The blessing they were able to give a young newly married couple and a whole community at large made all the difference in the world. The lasting effect of their words created a better environment where Jesus could grow as a child and into a young man.
The situation Baby Boomers face today is the same. We need you older folks in our churches and communities. We need you to tell us what you can see. We need you to lift us up in praise to God. We need you to speak blessings over our lives and declarations of direction so we can go home, live in peace and have strong environments where we can raise children to be great men and women. We need you older folks to be confident and secure in your older age with your heads up and shoulders back. We need you to speak bravely. We need you strong.
Millennials, we need you too. We need you to be brave and strong with your shoulders back and heads up as well. It’s okay to not have “it all together.” We need you to know you have great purpose ahead. You are holding our dreams in your arms just as Mary and Joseph were holding Simeon’s and Anna’s dream – baby Jesus the Messiah. Be strong knowing that you have many people who love you and will do anything to help you. When the Baby Boomer and Millennial come together, special moments happen that last forever.