Stories of Baby Jesus

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Luke 2:21-40

This is the first place we find a discrepancy in the tale of Jesus’s life. In Matthew, Joseph takes the child to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. But in Luke’s gospel no mention of Egypt is made, and instead Joseph takes Jesus to the Temple to be presented to the Lord. Now, that’s not to say these stories can’t still work together. Perhaps Joseph went to Egypt after presenting Jesus at the Temple, or possibly this presentation was made after they got back. Now, I’m no Biblical scholar, so I can’t really give any kind of definitive answer, but I don’t see any reason that these two accounts can’t both be true.

This story, as I see it, has two main purposes. The first is to show how Jesus was raised in exact accordance with the Law. His circumcision ritual was all in order, He was presented appropriately at the Temple, etc. Luke is continuing his proof of Mary and Joseph being the most righteous of people. They obey the Law to the best of their abilities. This is important because when Jesus starts saying stuff to abolish the Law later, it’s important for the reader to understand that He isn’t doing it because the Law is too hard for Him, or something like that. Jesus followed the Law perfectly from day one. Understanding that helps us to understand His authority. He has authority over the Law BECAUSE he can obey it so perfectly. (And also because He is the Son of God, but obviously the Pharisees didn’t believe that part.)

The other purpose of this story is to continue to show how God revealed Jesus first to unexpected people. Again, it’s not the Chief Priests or Pharisees who recognize Jesus as the Messiah, but Simeon, a man mentioned only this once in the entire Bible! Yet Simeon knows who Jesus is instantly. He is also revealed to Anna, a lowly widow, yet a devout and righteous woman. Certainly not the person you would expect. Both Simeon and Anna are so full of joy upon seeing baby Jesus that it overflows in praise for God. Which is exactly how we should feel and respond when we meet Jesus in our lives.

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