When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, â€œEver first born male is to be consecrated to the Lordâ€), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: a pair of doves or two young pigeons.â€
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lordâ€™s Christ. 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:
â€œSovereign 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.â€
The childâ€™s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: â€œThis child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.â€ Luke 2:22-35 (NIV)
This was the passage for worship yesterday. My pastor gave a wonderful word from God that I will be thinking about throughout this next year. Today I am looking at some of the history of the passage.
The â€œtime of purificationâ€ refers to Leviticus 12. When a woman gave birth to a boy, she was â€˜uncleanâ€™ for seven days. On the eighth day, the son would be circumcised. Then there would be a 33 day waiting period before a burnt offering and sin offering was done with a lamb or if the family was poor, two doves or pigeons. If the woman gave birth to a girl, she was unclean for two weeks and had to wait 66 days to make the sacrifice. This was why Mary and Joseph came with their offering at this time. It is such a wonder that because of Jesusâ€™ â€œonce for allâ€ sacrifice that our worship is not contingent upon these repetitive sacrifices but by the ongoing love from our hearts. My worship of God is also not about what I can financially afford but by what I am willing to give freely. I am free!
Simeon is described not as â€˜religiousâ€™ but as a man who has a right relationship with God and is devoted to God; committed to his Lord. He like many has been looking with hope for the Messiah, the Savior. God promises that He will comfort His people. (Isaiah 40:1, 51:3, 66:13). His comfort is perfect and completeâ€¦a Savior that will reconcile Holy God to His sinful children. On this day, God spoke to His servant, Simeon, and he obediently came to the temple and met the One for whom he had been waiting all this time. I do not get that kind of expectation! Hundreds of years, many generations, before God promised this Messiah and many had given up and allowed their eyes to see only what was in front of them. They put their trust in what their hands could make or their minds could understand. Simeon kept looking for more than he could imagine: a Savior. It is no wonder that as he held the Promise in his arms he said, â€œTake me, Father! There is no reason for me to remain here!â€ God speaks to us! He tells us to go places or to come â€“ and we will â€˜seeâ€™ Him! How can we not believe this when it has happened so many times in Bible stories and we continue to hear of those divine appointments today? Do I really want to miss God? Is there anything more important in my day than meeting God???
I also hear Simeonâ€™s words as I remember the moment when I knew that Jesus was real and loved meâ€¦ died for me! I could have died at that moment and felt that my life was complete! I know now that He has opportunities for me and missions for me to do before my life is truly complete but like Simeon, when I met the Messiah â€“ I was done! The rest of my days fall under that moment!
Mary and Joseph had their moment that day. Yes, they had heard the angelsâ€™ proclamations about their Son but weeks had passed and the daily duties of caring for a newborn might have â€˜veiledâ€™ the glory until Simeon gave witness to the Messiah that he held in his arms. They saw again Godâ€™s Promise. Simeonâ€™s words regarding Jesusâ€™ divinity would come back again in the next 30+ years and Mary would know the piercing of her heart as she watched her Son die. Godâ€™s Promise began as baby and yet still Messiah.