September 8 - Luke 2:21-40

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Luke 2:21-40 – Jesus Presented at the Temple

Luke does something interesting in this passage. In seminary, we call it an ‘inclusio.’ He encapsulates the story between the same word (or phrase or idea). In this case, it is the word “Law” and the location of the incident.

In verse 22, we read that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem because it was time – according to the Law.  In verse 39, we read that they left Jerusalem and returned home because they had fulfilled everything required by the Law.

The Law and the Holy City are then the framework for this final prophecy regarding the child – the Messiah. When Jesus says that he came to fulfill the Law, Luke’s words echo as a reminder that everything was done in accordance with the Law and the prophets.

Notice though, that Joseph and Mary responded to both the law of the land, by traveling to Bethlehem in response to a Roman census and the Law of their faith, by traveling to Jerusalem to present Jesus, offer a sacrifice and have him circumcised. Jesus came as Savior for the Jews as well as the Gentiles. His birth signaled that he was part of the world and God’s chosen people.

Take a moment to notice something else that is interesting in this passage. Luke writes of the Law three separate times (repeating its requirements in Luke 2:24). He also writes of the Holy Spirit three times in introducing Simeon.  The Law and the Spirit are integral and never separated in the life of Jesus Christ. Things are done according to the Law. Things occur through the action of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, it is unified.

Joseph and Mary had come to fulfill their obligations to the Law, but once they were in the Temple, soon discovered that God had something else in mind as well. Simeon, an old and righteous man had been waiting to see the Messiah. He cradled the child in his arms – a gesture of trust from a mother whose baby was still so young.  Mary and Joseph had their own angelic visitations and knew that the baby was God’s son, but still, to hear it from the mouth of someone else astounded them.

Before they could leave, another prophetess named Anna recognized that the Messiah had been born.

From mundane requirements to extraordinary prophecy, this trip to Jerusalem was a symbol of what would come in the life of Jesus, the Christ.