God’s Saving Word: Joy
Luke 2:21–38: Today’s reading picks up the storyline from verse 20 in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is named and circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. This is required by the Law (Leviticus 12:3) to indicate belonging to the Lord and as a sign of the covenant God made with Abraham (see Genesis 17:11–14). 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.
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.” 24 They also went to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the law of the Lord.
25 At 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 26 and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s promised Messiah. 27 Led 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, 28 Simeon 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.
30 With my own eyes I have seen your salvation,
31 which 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.”
33 The child’s father and mother were amazed at the things Simeon said about him. 34 Simeon 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 35 and 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.[a] She never left the Temple; day and night she worshiped God, fasting and praying. 38 That 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.
Today’s Key Verse: Luke 2:30–31
[Simeon prayed:] “With my own eyes I have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.”
Leviticus 12:4–8 outlines the purification ritual for women after childbirth that Mary and Joseph follow. Mary and Joseph’s sacrifice of two doves or pigeons (verse 24) shows that they are 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?
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.
Luke 2:39–52: Jesus is brought to the Temple at age 12.