Sunday, December 27, 2020

Posted on Dec 24 2020

Bible Background: Luke has started his gospel with pairs of people: Zechariah & Elizabeth, Mary & Joseph, and now Simeon & Anna. He’s also included a series of ‘songs’ or poems that celebrate what God is doing: The Magnificat by Mary, the Benedictus by Zechariah, and the Nunc Dimittis by Simeon (1st words in the Latin give them their titles.) The story of Jesus, the Savior of the world, is unfolding quickly and beautifully!

Digging Deeper: 1. We learn that Mary & Joseph are observant Jews. Jesus is circumcised and named on the 8th day. On the 40th day, it’s time for a new mother to go through a purification rite after childbirth. This allows her to participate fully again in the life of the faith community. The sacrifice of two pigeons or doves is what a family of modest means would bring to the temple priests.

2. The temple is where we meet old Simeon, who is “righteous and devout” and waiting expectantly for God to do something new for Israel. “The Holy Spirit rested on him.” The Spirit is very active in these first two chapters of Luke, and throughout Luke and Acts! Simeon takes the child in his arms and prays about how he has now seen God’s salvation. In fact, he’s satisfied; he is ready to die in peace!

3. Simeon’s words include this big news: “a light for revelation to the Gentiles”! In other words, Jesus is not just going to be a Messiah for the Jews. He’s going to be the Savior of all people, no exceptions!

4. V.33 suggests this statement amazes Joseph and Mary, which leads Simeon to speak a strange blessing on them: on how this child will be like a stumbling block to some, and the answer to prayer for others. We get the foreboding note: “a sword shall pierce your own soul too.” Not exactly a good sounding blessing!

5. Next, we meet old Anna, the only woman in the New Testament identified as a prophet! She is 84, a longtime widow, and she practically lives at the temple. (Is she perhaps homeless?) She worships and prays constantly, and immediately starts praising God for this child and all he will mean. There’s a lot happening in this short visit to the temple!

Questions/Thoughts: What does it mean to be righteous and devout? Would those two words describe us and our lives? What does it mean to be faithful in the practice of your religion? Do you think Mary, Joseph, Simeon, or Anna found that to be a chore or a source of delight? Whatever your age, what are you most thankful to God for? What can you tell other people about Jesus?