Alright, Ladies, allow us to continue to put ourselves in Mary’s place as we now travel with our husband, Joseph, to Jerusalem. You carry your eight-day-old baby boy, Jesus, into the temple courts. It has been a journey, this time 4.4 miles, to travel from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to perform these acts of faithfulness to the Lord within the temple.
The purpose of this temple visit within Jerusalem was to consecrate eight-day-old Jesus to the Lord as was necessary within the Law of the Lord for all Jewish males (Exodus 13:2 & Exodus 13:12). Circumcision was part of the purification process according to the Law of Moses. Jesus was circumcised at the age of eight-days-old to adhere to this law. It was at this time that Joseph gave Him the name Jesus, as the angel had commanded prior to the Child’s birth. Joseph and Mary also offered a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, to keep with the traditions within the Law of the Lord as people of Israel. One of the birds was sacrificed for a burnt offering and the other bird was offered as a sin offering (Leviticus 12:8). Joseph and Mary upheld the Law of Moses and the Law of the Lord through the fulfillment of these practices (Luke 2:21-24).
While Joseph and Mary were still in the temple courts, a man by the name of Simeon approached them. Simeon was a man completely devoted to the work of the Lord who lived in Jerusalem. The presence of the Holy Spirit rested on Simeon. He had been moved by the Holy Spirit to walk into the temple courts at that time, and there he found Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus. Simeon had been waiting for reassurance that the people of Israel would be redeemed. Through the Holy Spirit, God had told Simeon that he would not die until he saw the coming of the Christ child, the Messiah (both “Christ” (in Greek) and “Messiah” (in Hebrew) mean “the Anointed One” reference Luke 2:11) with his own eyes. Simeon took the baby Jesus into his arms and praised God, saying:
29“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; 30For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
33And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Luke 2:29-35 (NASB)
All that Simeon had shared about Mary’s newborn son astounded Joseph and Mary. Simeon stated that the denial of Christ’s teachings, the dangers and vicious plots would all take a toll on Mary’s heart, like a sword to pierce the heart (Luke 2:35) due to her deep love for her son, Jesus. Not knowing all of the details of what the babe’s life would entail, they marveled at how much greater this Christ child’s story was than they had even imagined.
As they stood there, a prophetess named Anna, a widow of the tribe of Asher, approached and thanked God for the redemption of Jerusalem (meaning “city of peace”) through this child called Jesus the Christ; Jesus the Messiah. Anna, a woman whom fasted and prayed in the temple day and night, comforted all in the temple with her encouragement that salvation had been born to Israel through this eight-day-old babe (Luke 2:36-38)!
To see this Child, the One whom the whole Jewish world had been waiting for, finally within the temple of Jerusalem to be dedicated and consecrated to the Lord—the emotions of both Simeon and Anna must have been nearly overwhelming! The Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One had been born at last to save and redeem all back to the Lord! Hallelujah!
“39When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. 40The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Luke 2:39-40 (NASB)
(End of Part II)