As I continue to focus on the birth of Jesus this Christmas season, tonight I am reflecting on Luke 2:22-38, the account of when Jesus was presented at the Temple. The advent devotional that I’ve been following highlights the faithfulness of the people in this passage. I agree. In this passage I see 3 pictures of full devotion to God. Amazing examples of people who ordered their lives completely around God’s will and His ways.
First we see Mary and Joseph, in Luke 2:22-24. As I compared this passage with the law of Moses, particularly in Leviticus 12, my thoughts are that Joseph and Mary likely traveled to Jerusalem from Nazareth. I believe that they had not yet traveled to Egypt to escape Herod, but rather traveled to Jerusalem to fulfill the requirements of the Law for purification after childbirth. Since they were devout Jews, it is conceivable that they walked an indirect route from Nazareth to Jerusalem to avoid going through Samaria. One commentary I found mentions a distance of this route to be around 120 miles. They were poor as indicated by their choice of sacrifice, “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” Since Jesus was their oldest son, they also presented him at the Temple in Jerusalem as commanded in Exodus 13. In short, Luke 2:22-38 is a great example of the humility and faithfulness of Joseph and Mary.
Next, in Luke 2:25-32…we meet Simeon. There is a great deal of liturgy and tradition that has been built around this man. His prayer, also know as Nunc dimittis, (Latin: Now to Leave) or Simeon’s Song has made it’s way into Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox services. I have not found a great deal more information about him. However, his commitment and longing for the messiah is clear. One commentary that I found emphasized his sense of release after seeing Jesus. It would seem that he was not a man who was simply hoping to see the messiah before he died. He we a man waiting to see the messiah. Now that he had, he could rest in peace.
Finally we have Anna, daughter of Penuel (Luke 2:33-38). It is interesting to note that they were probably passing through the woman’s court at the Temple of Jerusalem. There was little regard for women in ancient Hebrew culture. So whenever I see a woman highlighted in a significant role in the Bible, I take notice. Obviously Mary had a significant role. However, lets consider Anna. Here is a woman who spent much of her life worshiping God. She could not enter into worship services. She could only observe them from a balcony. According to custom, as a woman, Anna was not even counted among those who attended. She was not to be educated in the law and she had little if any rights in society. Yet God made her a prophet. I love it. I could find nothing else about this woman who simply worshiped God night and day in the Womans’ Court of the Temple. But I am thankful for a God who notices and honors the prayers of everyone, no matter how insignificant they might be to the rest of the world.
So why take time to even mention this perpective of Luke 2:22? The people mentioned in this passage are people whose entire lives were immersed in following God. They were not famous or rich people of their time. They lived difficult and challenging lives, yet they were faithful. They simply loved God and followed his every word. I pray that if God allow’s me to be on Earth for eighty years or more, I will be able to follow Simeon’s example praying with his same heart of fulfillment and peace…
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 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.”