Luke 2:22—40

The Messiah had finally come! Born in humble circumstances, yet born at just the right time to redeem all mankind.

When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (Galatians 4:4)

At Jesus’ birth, angels appeared to shepherds, exclaiming:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. (Luke 2:14)

The news given the shepherds stirred their hearts and changed their lives:

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (Luke 2:10)

The phrase “great joy” means gaiety, hilarity, festivity, mirth, and laughter. This was how wonderful the news was: the long awaited Messiah had finally come. For the first time light had come into our dark world; hope was shed abroad in the hearts of people that had none. While we have to use our imaginations to understand how these shepherds felt, “great joy” is the right of all believers:

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. (1 Peter 1:8)

The exact same joy that overcame, motivated, and changed those shepherds now resides in all Christians! It is your right and privilege to feel as the shepherds did 2,000 years ago. When you know Jesus, you know joy!

To those poor, humble shepherds had been born the Messiah. Not to kings or emperors, but to devout, hardworking men. To them, Christ had been born:

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (2:11)

Without Jesus Christ as Lord, there is no real Christmas. Remembering the birth of a baby named Jesus, born to Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem won’t save anybody until they recognize that baby as their Savior and Lord.

1. Raised in faith, 2:21—24

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

According to Jewish custom, on the eighth day, Jesus was both circumcised and named. It is good understand what the requirements of Mosaic Law were in order to appreciate how our Lord was raised. The Law taught that a woman became ceremonially unclean after giving birth. On the eighth day after his birth, the child was circumcised, and after that the mother continued to be considered as being unclean for another 33 days if her baby was a boy and 66 days if the baby was a girl! At the end of her unclean period, if the family was not wealthy, two doves or two pigeons were given in sacrifice. At that time, the first born son was to be presented to the Lord.

The importance of verses 21—24 graphically illustrates that both Joseph and Mary were devout in their faith and were raising their Son Jesus in that same faith. Jesus may have been the Savior of the world, but He was a committed member of the Hebrew faith. He was not a radical religious troublemaker, as the religious leaders would contend He was years later. No, our Lord was never raised to be either a religious or political radical. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born into this world to save it and raised to be Man of faith.

How important was Jesus’ rearing? Consider this:

And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him. (verse 40)

Where do you suppose all this strength and wisdom came from? Thanks to godly parents who looked after Jesus’ physical, educational, and spiritual needs, our Lord grew and God’s grace was on Him. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus quoted hundreds of verses from the Old Testament; verses He learned at His earthly father’s side and at the Temple. Make no mistake about it: the man Jesus became was a result of the kind of childhood He had.

2. Simeon gets his wish, 2:25—33

Next to nothing is known about this man Simeon. The Gospel does not indicate that he was a religious leader, in fact he probably was not. We might call Simeon a layman; a simple believer in Judaism. It is encouraging to note this. In time of spiritual decline and apostasy and cultural degradation, God always has His Simeons—people who, despite whatever else may be to the contrary, remain immovably faithful to Him. Simeon was watching and waiting for the Messiah to come and establish His kingdom on the earth.

Not only was this man an orthodox and religious Jew, he apparently was sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit:

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God. (verses 26—28a)

What a coincidence! Simeon, who happened to watching and waiting for the Messiah to come just happens to wander into the Temple just in time to see Jesus. A coincidence? With God there are no coincidences! Suppose Simeon got up that morning with a sore throat or headache? Suppose it was raining that day and the road to the Temple was wet? Suppose any one a hundred good excuses kept Simeon out of the Temple that day? He would have missed out on meeting Jesus.

When Simeon saw the baby Jesus, there was no holding him back! There was nothing reserved about Simeon’s reaction to encountering the Messiah. Without hesitation, he proclaimed loudly and clearly for everybody to hear the significance of this baby not only for Israel by for the whole world. To the Jews, salvation is glory. Something promised to them since Abraham’s day. God’s presence, the Shekinah glory had long since left the land; with coming of the Messiah, that glory was to return. To the Gentiles, salvation is presented as light. When Jesus came, He shone the light of God’s truth into a dark world that had never experienced God’s holiness and righteousness.

As we look at the entire Christmas story, we see a series of 4 hymns or songs of praise given:

  • Elizabeth’s “Song of Love,” which concerns Mary (Luke 1:42, 43)
  • Mary’s “Song of Faith,” in which she confesses her faith by praising God for His power, holiness, and mercy (Luke 1:46—55)
  • Zechariah’s “Song of Hope.” His song comes closest to a Christmas carol, extolling the God of Israel and looking forward to the hope that is the Messiah.
  • Simeon’s “Song of Self-Surrender.” In this song we see a man who has finally gotten his wish. After a lifetime of waiting, watching, and hoping for the Messiah to come, he has lived to see that Messiah. Now, he can die a happy man. Here was contented man, to whom God had kept His promise.

3. The grace of Anna, 2:36—38

This was a quite a trip to the Temple for Joseph and Mary! Not only did they run into Simeon who confirmed who and what the baby Jesus was, would be, and would do, but now they bump into Anna, in another providential meeting. In contrast to Simeon, we are given a whole list of details about this elderly widow-prophetess.

Simeon was probably still holding the baby Jesus as Anna entered and walked up to him. The fact that she immediately gave thanks to God shows that she most definitely was a prophet who was being guided by the Holy Spirit. Though Luke does not give us the substance of her message, clearly she spoke of the salvation that had come into the world in the Person of Jesus. She was looking for the same thing Simeon was and they both found Him!

Through Zechariah, Elizabeth, the shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and others, the good news of the Savior coming into the world was spreading. But there is something very significant in how and to whom God revealed His good news. He did so only to those who had the spiritual qualifications for such a message. He did not tell just anybody that the Messiah had come; He told those who were looking for Him.

According to Matthew, the next major event in the life of Jesus was trip to Egypt. For some reason, Luke does not give an account of this. Of course, each of the four Gospels was written to a different audience and for different reasons. Matthew, for example, presents Jesus as King while Luke presents Him as the perfect Man. The wise men omitted by Luke did not fit into Luke’s purpose for writing. The wise men came looking for a king, not a man or savior. Luke shows us Jesus, the perfect Man, perfectly suited to be the Savior of not only Israel but of the whole world.

(c)  2010 WitzEnd

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