Once Christmas becomes a happy memory, what do you do? Do you go to the store and exchange your gifts for something that fits better or is a better color? Do you play with all the fun new gadgets you received from loved ones? We all have traditions, but on that first Christmas, a young mother was simply caring for her baby… the Son of God.
There were certain things that had to be done in order to fulfill Jewish Law. Even though Jesus was God incarnate, He had put aside His deity in order to be a kinsman to the humans He created. He was born under very humble conditions to a very normal mother and stepfather who followed the Law precisely. After all, Jesus became human to be our Kinsman Redeemer, and He wouldn’t allow Himself to be above the Law. There were different requirements for male babies than for female. God knows there is a difference and that gender isn’t a choice, nor is it “fluid.”
God told Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days: according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled” (Leviticus 12:2-4). This was the Law when a son was born.
Joseph and Mary were obedient to the Law and did all that was required. “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21).
When Mary was visited by Gabriel and told she was chosen to give birth to the Son of God, he also told her to name Him Jesus. This is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, meaning “Jehovah is salvation.” The name is important because that’s descriptive of why He was born. Salvation is only found in Him, and by faith, we are saved by His grace.
The next big event took place when Mary’s days of purification were accomplished. “And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord)” (Luke 2:22-23).
Children are important to God. They are to be loved and nurtured. When God chose Mary to give birth to His Son, He knew that she would be faithful to the Law and love and nurture Jesus. Joseph, too, was a special man who would make sure the Law was followed. This is the example of a Godly family. A father who leads his family in the ways of the Lord, a mother who humbly submits to her husband, and both parents are God-honoring examples to their children.
The reason they were in the Temple that day was to present Jesus to the Lord. “And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:24). The Law required a sacrifice. “And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her: and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female” (Leviticus 12:6-7).
You see, not only was the child to be presented to God, but the mother had to be cleansed. Mary wasn’t perfect, nor was she above the Law. She was required to fulfill her responsibility. There was more required of her. “And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean” (Leviticus 12:8).
These offerings were for cleansing of her sins. Gabriel had greeted her, saying that she was highly favored and blessed among women (Luke 1:28). He didn’t say she was perfect and without sin. She needed salvation as much as anybody. We know from reading the account in Luke chapter 2 that she brought a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. She didn’t have a lamb to sacrifice… or did she? She brought with her the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. Jesus.
It would seem logical that the priests of the Temple, who very religiously served God, would have recognized that it was their Messiah who was being presented to them that day. After all, not many days before, there had been angels proclaiming the birth of the King of kings to a group of shepherds. Those shepherds probably herded sheep to be used as sacrifices at the Temple. It would be reasonable that the priests would have heard about what the shepherds had seen and heard.
Much like today, the religious leaders weren’t watching and waiting for their Messiah. They knew that one day He would appear, but surely He would be a man of war who would save them from the oppression of the Romans. They weren’t looking for a baby born in a manger. They just didn’t believe prophecy, nor did they understand that there would be two comings of the same Messiah. The first would be a man of peace who would teach humility and love. An example for all to follow. The second coming will be when He destroys Satan, the true enemy of all mankind, and establishes His Eternal Kingdom.
Many people today are blind to the truth and deny that prophecy is quickly being fulfilled and that the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord, will return with power and might. Some of us today do understand that Christ will call us Home soon, then fight the final battle, defeating Satan and his minions. Many people are willingly ignorant. “Knowing this first that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant…” (2 Peter 3:3-5a). God’s word is truth, and prophecy will be fulfilled.
Today, there are many of us who do believe God and are looking for our Lord to call us Home. There were some long ago who also were looking for the Messiah. When Mary was on her way to fulfill her duty under the Law, she encountered two people who were not blinded by religious rites and those who wanted to control people. They believed God. “And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him” (Luke 2:25).
Simeon was a special man. I’d like to be described as “just and devout.” The Holy Spirit wasn’t something new that appeared on the Day of Pentecost. The difference is that after Pentecost, believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Simeon had the Holy Ghost upon him. It’s the same Spirit, whether before or after the cross, who will lead a person to a close walk with the Lord. So, it was with Simeon.
“And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms and blessed God and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:26-32).
That’s quite a statement. Simeon, being led by the Holy Spirit, took joy in knowing that Jesus came to the nation of Israel and also to Gentiles, an unusual statement by a Jewish man but a statement inspired by the Holy Spirit. A Pharisee or priest would never make such a statement. We can learn more from Simeon than we know. He was content to die, having seen his Saviour with his own eyes. Until we come to salvation through Jesus Christ, we cannot die in peace. Only faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ will bring eternal life.
Simeon lived prior to the cross but had been looking forward to the Messiah. Simeon also spoke a prophecy to Mary. “And Simeon blessed them and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, 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” (Luke 2:34-35). The day would come when Mary would be devastated as she watched her Son being crucified and pierced with a sword.
Simeon wasn’t the only one that day who recognized Jesus. “And 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 a husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:36-37).
It seems as if the only ones who understood who this Child was were the ones who walked closest to God. If you are upset because you don’t know where God is leading you, or you think He doesn’t speak to you, maybe you should study Simeon and Anna and learn their ways. “And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). Once she found Jesus, she couldn’t keep Him to herself. She told everyone.
This was a short study about people who were greatly blessed by walking close to God, believing His word, and patiently watching and waiting for His promise. Many people today call themselves Christians but have no idea what that means. At one time, my husband thought he was a Christian because he lived in the United States. Then he met Jesus. What a revelation that was to Ron! Like the shepherds who were told by angels to go find the Child in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, they couldn’t keep their discovery quiet, and they shared what they had found. Ron couldn’t keep his joy to himself but shared the Good News. Simeon and Anna had been watching and waiting for many years, and because they lived close to God, they recognized their Redeemer when they met Him.
What about you? Do you desire to find Salvation? If you’ve met Jesus, do you share with others? We need to because if you study Scripture and walk close to the Lord, you know that Jesus is about to call born-again believers Home. We all need to be watching and waiting for that call, but we need to share the Gospel with everyone we know. The Rapture will happen soon.
The Apostle John was given the revelation of the end of days but was shown that before the Tribulation, Christians will be called Home. “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne” (Revelation 4:1-2).
I’m watching and waiting; how about you? Until then, I’m walking as close to God as I can. How about you?
God bless you all,
Recommended prophecy sites:
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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