A Good Jewish Kid
This week’s text is Luke 2:22-40. This is the story of Jesus being presented in the temple at Jerusalem. The first thing to note is how very Jewish all this is. It is beyond ironic that people like to excessively distinguish between Jews and Christians, given how observant a Jew Jesus and His family were.
They go to Jerusalem to present Jesus to the temple as is the custom. It is clear in Verse 23 that they are adhering to the Law of the Lord. They are to consecrate the firstborn male to the Lord. This is what is expected of observant Jews during this time and Mary and Joseph are all about adhering to this as it is clearly important to them. It is also important to the Gospel writer to connect Jesus firmly to Jewish tradition. This connection will serve as the foundation for Jesus’s earthly ministry.
A Poor Kid
The text also illuminates the reality that Jesus is from a poor family. This is clear by the fact that they are sacrificing “a pair of doves or two young pigeons” (Verse 24). Leviticus 12:8 allows for this as a sacrifice instead of a lamb if they cannot afford a lamb. So, while Jesus and His family are not beggars, likely if for no other reason than that Joseph was a workman, with some skills, they are of modest means. This too is important because this humble beginning is in keeping with a tradition going deep into the Old Testament of God bringing forth the unlikeliest of characters to carry forth His message.
Who Jesus is Here For
The other notable thing about this passage is who sees Jesus for who is really is. That is, who does He appeal to. The first is Simeon. He was a devout and upstanding old man who was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Verse 25). He sees Jesus for the promised Messiah and is now ready to die as Hs deepest wish has been fulfilled. It seems that Simeon is a stand in for the Jewish community in general. Jesus is here as the savior promised to the nation Israel. Again, tying Jesus to the prophetic tradition is important as a foundation of His ministry.
The second person to recognize Jesus as the Messiah is Anna. She is an old woman who was widowed at a young age and is now 84 years old. Widows were among the most discarded groups in the ancient world. Nonetheless, Anna is extraordinarily faithful and worships at the temple day and night. This figure is to highlight that Jesus is here for the downcast, the maligned, and the forgotten. Also highlighted is the fact that members of these outgroups can and often are some of the most faithful in our midst.
The lesson in all this is clear. Jesus is firmly in the Jewish prophetic tradition, although as we will see not at all limited to just the Jewish community. Also Jesus is here for the least among us, who are to be given extra care and concern. This passage is a harbinger for what is to come in the ministry of Jesus. As the passage ends it states that He had done all that the law required and that the grace of God was upon Him.
Indeed, the grace of God is upon us as well for the faith that He has placed withing us through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. Ours is now to simply believe, and then go out and obey.
Praise Be to God