It may help you today if you crank up the A/C, pull up the Netflix fireplace and cuddle up with a blanket. Make sure you close the curtains to hide the budding spring seen through your windows.
For all you Christmas fanatics like my wife, it is okay to play a Christmas carol in the background or slide out the 4 ft Christmas tree for the day. I repeat "for the day"! Just kidding, if you want to leave that bad boy up all year and celebrate the birth of Jesus 365 days a year, you do you!
Does it feel strange to read and study Luke 2 sometime other than December? Luke 2 is one of the most familiar passages of Scripture in all the Bible and probably the most easily quoted because it has been read on so many Christmas eves or mornings. Today I want to focus on what occurs in verse 21 and beyond.
This is Mary and Joseph's visit to the temple. Understanding these times and ceremonies will help to understand the background. Jewish families went through several rituals soon after a baby's birth:
Circumcision. Every Jewish boy was circumcised and named on the eighth day after birth, as outlined in Leviticus 12:3. We also see this play out in Luke 1:59–60 with Zechariah and John the Baptist.
Circumcision symbolized the Jews' separation from Gentiles and their unique relationship with God (Genesis 17:9–14). So after eight days had passed, Mary and Joseph took the child to be circumcised. They named him Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb (Luke 1:31). They did not go to Jerusalem for this ceremony; instead, a local priest most likely performed it.
2. Redemption of the firstborn. A firstborn son was presented to God one month after birth
(Exodus 13:2, 11–16; Numbers 18:15–16). The ceremony included buying back— or
"redeeming"— the child from God through an offering. Luke explained to his Gentile
audience that this command came from the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male shall be
designated as holy to the Lord," as taken from Exodus 13:2, 12, 15 and Numbers 18:15. So
Mary and Joseph brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. Through this, the
parents would acknowledge that the child belonged to God, who alone has the power to
This is similar to our dedication ceremony where we present the child back to the Lord as a recognition they are a gift from Him and commit to raising our kids in the ways of the bible.
3. Purification of the mother. For forty days after the birth of a son and eighty days after the
birth of a daughter, the mother was ceremonially unclean and could not enter the temple. So
when the time came for their purification, that is, at the end of Mary's time of separation,
they went to the temple to present Jesus to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice according to
what is stated in the Law.
Mary and Joseph were to bring an offering: a lamb for a burnt offering and a dove or pigeon for a sin offering. The priest would sacrifice these animals and declare the woman to be clean. The parents could bring a second dove or pigeon if a lamb were too expensive.
Now, with that in mind, let's take a look at Luke 2:25–26. It says, "Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah."
Here Luke introduces another person who would be divinely told of the Messiah's arrival and would confirm the baby's identity. His name is Simeon. He was spiritually in tune with God: righteous, devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, with the Holy Spirit resting on him.
All of his life he had held on to God's promise of a coming deliverer, so through the Holy Spirit, God promised that Simeon would not die before seeing the Lord's Messiah. The "consolation of Israel" was another way of describing the Messiah.
We also see Anna's prophecy that comes up just a few verses later in Luke 2:38, where the faithful are called those waiting for "the redemption of Jerusalem." "Redemption" refers to the restoration of Israel as a nation; the word comes from Isaiah 40:1; 49:13; 51:3; 57:18; 66:10–11. Simeon, a righteous, devout, and Spirit-filled man who hoped in the future God had promised, stands forever in Scripture as a model of devotion and faithfulness to God.
The Scripture says, Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel."
When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to present him to the Lord (Luke 2:22), Simeon also went into the temple courts, having been moved by the Spirit to be there on this particular day. God was ordaining this meeting in keeping with his promise to Simeon (Luke 2:26).
Mary and Joseph arrived in the temple to do for Jesus what the custom of the Law required. This obedience to the Old Testament law is mentioned several times in Luke. It points out Jesus' credentials as one who obeyed the Law, even from birth, because His parents did exactly as they were commanded.
At the temple, Mary and Joseph met an older man who took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God. The Spirit led Simeon to recognize this baby as the "consolation of Israel … the Lord's Messiah" (Luke 2:25–26).
Simeon praised God that He had done what He promised and could "dismiss Your servant", meaning himself, in peace. In other words, Simeon was now ready to die in peace because he had seen God's salvation. To see Jesus is to see salvation. This salvation has been prepared in the sight of all people, a "light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel."
Jesus Christ is the fullest manifestation of God's "glory" that His people have seen. Luke, writing to Gentiles, pointed out that from the very beginning, God planned to offer salvation to Gentiles and Jews.
The mission to the Gentiles is a central theme in Luke and Acts. Even the prophets had predicted this (see, for example, Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; 52:10; 60:1–2). The Jews were well acquainted with the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah's blessings to their nation. They did not always give equal attention to the prophecies saying that He would bring salvation to the entire world, not just the Jews. Many thought that Christ had come to save only His people. Luke ensured his Greek audience understood that Jesus had come to save all who believed, Gentiles and Jews, and aren't you glad that he did!!
Today, can we be like Simeon, who was eagerly awaiting the Messiah's first coming, and can we be eagerly awaiting and watching for His second coming.
Simeon was old and had much to ponder. Undoubtedly, he had disappointments to worry over, much to grieve, and lots to regret. Rather than dwelling on life's rough ride, Simeon, even in old age, he looked to God's future with brightness and hope.
Let's not be so concerned with what is happening in our life that we miss out on the hope of what will come. With God, every day has hope and good cheer. Neither old age nor grim circumstances should keep you from God's comfort, which is sufficient for your needs today. Take Simeon's example and consider God's great plan for you and the world.
Two other observations about Simeon's life that I can't get past. First, he was sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Had he not obeyed the Holy Spirit's prompting that day, he would have missed seeing Jesus. Second, he had an expectancy of the Lord. We need this in our life. Expect Jesus not just in our life as he did, but in our prayer times, Dwell times, and church services. We should expect Him to show up in our lives.
So remember today to expect God to show up around you and be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life.