Luke was what we would call a people person and a gatherer of information and was one of Paul’s companions. Luke was always a writer of fact, meticulous in detail and accurate to a fault. For this reason These verses we look closely at today are special.
The Jews had always regarded themselves as the chosen people and nation of God, so destined to attain greatness in this world but to their credit they knew this destiny could never be by human means. There were other means that would bring this about and there was one among the many who quietly waited with prayers patiently waiting with humble expectations, they waited for the day God would confront his people.
There was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, who all knew to be a good and pious man. Generations of God’s people had waited for the Messiah, the Savior to bring consolation or comfort to the nation of Israel. The people had faith he would come and deliver them once again just as he had done in the past…Out of Egypt and slavery. Simeon too knew he would come because he had received the promise from the Holy Spirit and on that day he was led to the Temple. One of the things that I have learned from studying over the years is that Jewish tradition will prevail in most all situations and at this point of the story it does not disappoint. Joseph and Mary, in faithfulness to the Law, traveled to Jerusalem while Jesus was still an infant to present Him to God in the temple and at this time the promise to Simeon was granted. Simeon knew the baby Jesus instantly and as he picked him up in his arms…these words rushed from his mouth…
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:29–32).
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[f] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. NRSV
In these verses we see how Jewish Tradition once again becomes a determining factor in our story. Tradition required that every adult male Jew within fifteen miles of Jerusalem must attend the Passover. It was in fact a goal of every Jew in the world to attend the Passover at least once in their lifetime. There was the Tradition also that every male Jew when they became twelve years of age become a son of the law and take obligations of the law upon themselves. This trip, the holy city and the Temple and the sacred ritual had a huge impact on Jesus. At the close of the festival as people set out for home Jesus stayed behind, his parents were not aware of this, not to be attributed to carelessness on their part. It was the customs of those traveling to do so in groups as a protection against the hazards of the road both natural and otherwise. The women would always leave a bit earlier than the men because they traveled at a slower pace. The men traveling at a faster pace would catch up with the women and children about the time the evening encampment was reached. Jesus was now 12 years old and by Jewish tradition a man. In this time of excitement both Mary and Joseph believed he was with the other group. They missed him soon after the groups came together that evening. When they were sure he was not with either group, they then set out for Jerusalem to find him. At Passover it was the custom of the Sanhedrin to come to the middle court of the Temple and publicly in the presence of all who would listen, discuss religious and theological questions. This is where they found him listening and asking questions as was the Jewish way of learning from your elders. This was an important time in the life of Jesus, this was the day when he discovered who he was. Jesus left then to go back home with Mary and Joseph and he was obedient to them.
In this chapter we read of the Angels giving thanks, the Shepherds going to see this child and giving thanks. Elisabeth welcoming Mary and both praising and giving thanks for the goodness of God. Simeon, to whom the Spirit had made a promise that he would not die until he had seen the Christ… giving thanks. I hope that you have given Thanks…this holiday and continue to do so. Our God is a great God.
Life is Good