According to the Law, Leviticus 12:3 a
Jewish boy was to be circumcised when he was eight days old.
It was very important for Mary and Joseph to follow all the
Jewish laws. After all, they were laws laid down by God, and
this Baby was the Son of God. So on the eighth day Mary took
her Son to be circumcised. She had already been told by the
angel, before His birth, that His name would be Jesus, but at
this ceremony she made it official.
It was now forty days after Jesus' birth. Moses, under the
direction of God, had laid down **certain laws that must be
carried out. One of these laws was that a new mother of a son
must go through a certain ceremony to be declared clean. At
this ceremony a lamb for those who could afford it or two
pigeons for those who could not, were to be offered.
God had chosen that His Son should be born into a family
who were considered poor. Had Jesus been born into a wealthy,
or even moderately well off home, many of the world's
destitute might feel that they were unworthy of God's
Salvation. But God sent His Son into the world for ALL.
John 3:16 - "For God so loved the
world that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER
believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting
life." Jesus' family brought two pigeons to the
temple in Jerusalem, for their sacrifice. It was time to
present the Baby to God.
Many of the very devout believed that
they would not die until their eyes had seen His coming.
Simeon Sees The Savior
The Holy Spirit had revealed to one of these very devout
believers that he would not die until he had seen the
"Consolation of Israel. " As he did every day for as long as
he could remember, Simeon went to the Temple. He was now a
very old man and would welcome death, but not until he had
seen Israel's salvation. Simeon knew the time had come. He had
had a dream. Today would be special. Today was the day he had
been waiting for. Today he would meet the Redeemer face to
"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.
"Now I can die in peace," Simeon said, "for my eyes have
seen Your salvation. A long time ago You promised that You
would send a Redeemer for ALL people - a light for the Gentiles
and a glory for Your People Israel."
Mary and Joseph stood in awe as the old man poured out a
blessing on their Son. "How could Simeon have known?" Yet, in
their hearts they knew how Simeon knew. God had revealed His
Son to this Godly man in the same manner as He had revealed
Him to the humble shepherds, and to themselves.
Simeon continued his blessing. He laid his hands on Mary
and said: "This child is set for the fall
and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall
be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own
soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
2:34-35. Mary would not understand what
these words meant, until many years later, when she witnessed
the death of her Son, the Son of God, on the cross of Calvary.
Simeon's blessing was finished. He now could die in peace.
God had sent His promised Messiah to free Israel--and the
entire world--from the bondage of sin.
Not only did Simeon await the announcement of the Messiah,
but so also did a very elderly prophetess, Anna. She was
looking forward to the time when Israel would once again be
free from Roman oppression. "There was one
Anna, a prophetess the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of
Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband
seven years from her virginity; and was a widow about
fourscore and four years." 2:36-37
Anna had lost her husband after only seven years of
marriage. At the time she was still very young. According to
ancient Hebrew customs, the minimum marriage age was fourteen.
So Anna could have been as young as twenty-one when her
husband died. Ever since that time she had served in the
Temple. And now she was at least eighty-four, if not older.
Daily Anna preformed the duties that were assigned to her,
and every day she wondered when that day would come that she
knew in her heart would happen: the day when she would hold
the Christ Child in her arms and bless Him.
And now that special day was here. While she was doing her
Temple duties, she had noticed a couple come in, with a Baby
in their arms. She had witnessed the blessing by Simeon, the
elderly man of God whom she had seen every day at the temple.
Right away Anna knew that this was the Promised One. She took
the Baby in her arms and blessed Him. Now she was ready to die
whenever God called her. Her eyes had seen the glory of the
Joseph and Mary had finished all the ceremonies required by
law. * They could now return to Galilee, to their own city of
Nazareth. Everything that had transpired since their arrival
in Jerusalem, all the special blessings, all the puzzling
words that had been spoken by the two elderly people of God,
Mary kept stored in her heart. She would not fully realize
what they meant, until many years later.
* Please Note: The stories up
to here are ones presented by Luke. He omitted telling us that
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus went to Bethlehem from Jerusalem and
then took their flight into Egypt before returning to
Nazareth. Matthew makes this clear by taking up the story
while they were in Bethlehem following the presentation in the
temple. So if there seems to be a discrepancy, there isn't.
It is just that two people used by God to record the events on
and around Christ's birth, are telling their stories from two
different points of view.
Luke does not tell about the wise men's visit, or of the
flight to Egypt. The next two stories will be from Matthew's
point of view.