God’s Word of Joy
Luke 2:21-52: Today’s reading picks up the storyline from verse 20. Jesus is named and circumcised on the eighth day according to the Law of Moses (see Leviticus 12:3) to indicate belonging to the Lord and as a sign of the covenant God made with Abraham (see Genesis 17:11-12). Mary and Joseph perform the ceremony of purification and bring Jesus to Jerusalem to be dedicated to the Lord. At the Temple, they encounter Simeon and Anna, two elderly and devout people who testify to God’s faithfulness in speaking about Jesus. After completing everything required by the Law, Mary and Joseph return to Nazareth with Jesus. The chapter concludes with the account of Jesus, at age 12, debating with the Jewish teachers in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Jesus Is Named
21 A week later, when the time came for the baby to be circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name which the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
Jesus Is Presented in the Temple
22 The time came for Joseph and Mary to perform the ceremony of purification, as the Law of Moses commanded. So they took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, 23 as it is written in the law of the Lord: “Every first-born male is to be dedicated to the Lord.” 24They also went to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the law of the Lord.
25At that time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, God-fearing man and was waiting for Israel to be saved. The Holy Spirit was with him 26and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s promised Messiah. 27Led by the Spirit, Simeon went into the Temple. When the parents brought the child Jesus into the Temple to do for him what the Law required, 28Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God:
29“Now, Lord, you have kept your promise,
and you may let your servant go in peace.
30With my own eyes I have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples:
32 A light to reveal your will to the Gentiles
and bring glory to your people Israel.”
33The child’s father and mother were amazed at the things Simeon said about him. 34Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, “This child is chosen by God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God which many people will speak against 35and so reveal their secret thoughts. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.”
36-37 There was a very old prophet, a widow named Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She had been married for only seven years and was now eighty-four years old. She never left the Temple; day and night she worshiped God, fasting and praying. 38That very same hour she arrived and gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were waiting for God to set Jerusalem free.
The Return to Nazareth
39 When Joseph and Mary had finished doing all that was required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their hometown of Nazareth in Galilee. 40The child grew and became strong; he was full of wisdom, and God’s blessings were upon him.
The Boy Jesus in the Temple
41 Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. 42When Jesus was twelve years old, they went to the festival as usual. 43When the festival was over, they started back home, but the boy Jesus stayed in Jerusalem. His parents did not know this; 44they thought that he was with the group, so they traveled a whole day and then started looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45They did not find him, so they went back to Jerusalem looking for him. 46On the third day they found him in the Temple, sitting with the Jewish teachers, listening to them and asking questions. 47All who heard him were amazed at his intelligent answers. 48His parents were astonished when they saw him, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been terribly worried trying to find you.”
49He answered them, “Why did you have to look for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50But they did not understand his answer.
51So Jesus went back with them to Nazareth, where he was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 Jesus grew both in body and in wisdom, gaining favor with God and people.
Today’s Key Verse: Luke 2:40
The child grew and became strong; he was full of wisdom, and God’s blessings were upon him.
Leviticus 12 outlines the purification ritual for women after childbirth which Mary and Joseph follow according to the Law of Moses. Mary and Joseph’s sacrifice of two doves or pigeons (verse 24) indicates their status as poor. In what ways do we offer sacrifices today? How are Simeon and Anna described? For what were they waiting (verses 25-26, 38)? What does Simeon say to Mary (verses 34-35)? Upon hearing his words, what might Mary have thought? Reread verses 41-52. Why did Jesus stay behind in Jerusalem? What did the teachers think of him? Why were his parents astonished when they found him?
Lord God, you keep your promises, and your promised Messiah has come to bring us your salvation. He is the light who reveals your will for us. Help me to grow in the knowledge of you and do what is pleasing in your sight. Glory to you, O Lord! Amen.
Titus 1:1-16: The apostle Paul reminds Titus of the work to be done in Crete.