This week Luke takes us back to the temple, where he began his narrative. The temple that once stood as the sign of God’s presence with his people now stands as a constant reminder of his absence. But God is returning, just not the way anyone has expected. Mary and Joseph bring the infant Jesus, who is God in human flesh, to the temple to fulfill the requirements of the Jewish Law. Amazing things have happened to them in the previous months. But angels and incarnation do not put them above their responsibilities as members of the community of God’s people. So they come to the temple to worship God.
In the temple they meet Simeon and Anna. Both are elderly; both are waiting for God to fill the temple with his glory and be with his people. Both are committed to faithful worship and prayer as they wait for God to return. When the Holy Spirit reveals to Simeon that the baby Jesus is in fact the one they have been waiting for he takes the little one in his arms and bursts into praise. But then he turns to Mary and his words take on a much darker tone. He speaks of opposition and conflict, of anguish for Mary. This is surely not what any of these four people are expecting. We’ll learn how their lives of faithful worship and prayer have shaped and prepared them to trust that God’s glory will be much deeper and wider than they ever could have imagined.
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22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 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.”
25 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 on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
27 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, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”