Juleevangeliet er ein del av ei større forteljing som me finn i dei to første kapitla i Evangeliet etter Lukas. Her er det fleire personar som får bodskap frå Gud om kven Maria sitt barn eigentleg er. I tillegg til gjetarane i juleevangeliet (Luk 2,1-20), kan me her lesa om Elisabet og Sakarja (foreldra til Døyparen Johannes) og om Simeon og Anna i tempelet. Men kva forstod dei av det som skjedde, og kven forstod først?
NT-professor Ben Witherington III har skrive ein artikkel om dette for Biblical Archaeology Review. Han framhever Simeon og Anna som viktige vitne som såg og forstod, kvar på sin måte:
Mary, Simeon or Anna: Who First Recognized Jesus as Messiah?
Being first to hear doesn’t always mean being first to understand. In Luke’s birth narrative, Mary is the first to be told that Jesus will be the messiah. Luke adds that she “treasures the words” the angel Gabriel speaks to her. But Mary is also puzzled by the divine message; she is “perplexed” when the angel greets her and must “ponder” the meaning of his words (Luke 1:29; see also 2:19). In this, Mary contrasts sharply with Simeon and Anna, two elderly individuals who happen to be in the Temple when Joseph and Mary bring the infant Jesus to Jerusalem for the first time.
The pairing of Simeon and Anna reflects Luke’s penchant for male-female parallelism when he writes about the recipients of divine blessing and salvation. The story of Jesus’ birth is framed by two such stories—that of Elizabeth and Zechariah in Luke 1 and Anna and Simeon in Luke 2. Interestingly, in both, the woman is portrayed as the more positive example of discipleship. The women are not only more receptive to the message, they are more willing to act upon it, with Elizabeth realizing that her cousin is carrying the messiah and praising God for this blessing and Anna spreading the good news.
The first Christmas and the Christ child come at a particular point in time, but for many, like Mary and Joseph, the significance of the event is only understood incrementally and over the course of many years. But the prophetic insight into God’s intentions is a gift which keeps on giving and renewing the people of God. And at the outset of a long chain of such prophetic insights stand Simeon and Anna, one satisfied that prophecy has been fulfilled and the other pointing to the future, a future as bright as the promises of God.