Forty days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph presented Him to God in the temple. According to Luke 2:22 these forty days were “for the purification rites by the Law of Moses” and we can find this law in Leviticus 12:1-4.
They go to the temple to present Him to the Lord (another law, specifically for the firstborn male, found in Exodus 13:2,12). We are about to meet two of my favorite characters in the early days of Jesus’ life. The first is a man called Simeon who was righteous and devout (Luke 2:25), “He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.” (verse 26)
How beautiful is this! Normally we do not talk about Simeon around Christmas time, but I think we need to consider this aspect of his story today. God is a promise keeper and there is no greater promise than that of the Messiah. And this man was promised to see Him! We do not know Simeon’s age, but I cannot help but ponder if he was older. If he had been waiting a while. And get this, his plan hadn’t been to be in the temple courts that day, but then God moves through the Holy Spirit.
“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, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:27-32
His saying to God, “you may now dismiss your servant in peace,” brings tears to my eyes because here we see as Simeon does – God’s salvation for all mankind, and it is personal. It is all we need.
God brought this man to the right place, at the right time for this one promised moment. And for the declaration as well that Jesus is a light for revelation to the Gentiles. Salvation for all. A moment of reconciliation to God, and peace forever possible in the name of this child.
Simeon held a baby who would have been around forty days old, with both parents before him. He probably looked crazy, but there was nothing more natural than this moment. He knew the promise being fulfilled before him. In this moment, Simeon blesses them but also speaks over Mary what must have seemed a curse, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:34-35
This is speaking of the pain Mary would experience in seeing Jesus die on the cross. She would be with him to the end. At forty days(ish) old, and she is already having to face the other side of this blessing given to her. But God knew He would rise! It makes me think of the song “Mary did you know” and the lyrics that say, “This child you delivered will soon deliver you.”
Breaking into this moment we see another person God had given the gift of meeting the Messiah, we meet the prophet Anna. Scripture says she was very old and that she had been a widow for many decades. “She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:37-38)
This was her routine, coming to the temple courts and God knew in her faithfulness and old age – she would meet the Messiah! How amazing is that!
Today, Jesus is meeting you here in your daily place. He is, God with us. “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
The Messiah left Heaven, to bring us home with Him. To offer us true peace that only He can give. The good news provides us with an option. Just as Joseph could have said no, the Magi could have stayed home and studied, the Shepherds could have kept with their flocks, and Simeon could have not listened to the Holy Spirit moving in him… we often see the story set because we know the end. But what part are you in this story?
Are you Simeon waiting for the promise kept because it is before you now!
Are you the Shepherds so moved by what they have heard that they choose to go; to see this good news come to life for themselves?
For this gift has come for you, and this side of the cross – we know how the story ends and you can know how yours ends too. Today, you can choose what that moment before eternity looks like. And you can then see Jesus with His nail scarred hands reaching for yours – to take you home.
This was Jesus’ favorite part of the story. Its why He came. You are why He came.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
You might not see your name written in the pages of the Christmas story, but for all who accept Christ – we are written into the Lamb’s book of life. For Jesus paid it all. He is enough, and we are welcome home.
You are why He came.