Luke 2:22-40—Jesus Is Presented in the Temple
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeontook him in his arms and praised God, saying,
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
The story of Simeon, an elderly man who had spent decades looking for the “consolation of Israel,” is a less-noticed but much-loved part of the material that surrounds the account of the nativity in the Gospel of Luke. As soon as Jesus’ parents bring him into the Temple, there is Simeon, and he immediately recognizes that this child is the one whom he has awaited. It is a story about patience, faith, hope and spiritual wisdom. Precious little detail is given which makes the story all the more tantalizing. Read the story over several times. Each time, think about where your imagination is drawn, where your questions are, what touches you most in the story.
- How good are you at waiting? What is it that makes waiting difficult?
- What does the phrase “consolation of Israel” evoke for you?
- What would the “consolation of the world” look like today?