Summary: The last of Luke's four songs celebrating the incarnation of Christ is the Song of Simeon. The righteous priest long anticipated the birth of the one who would bring salvation to the Jews and to the whole world.
Well, I was really thinking about another carol for all of us to sing together this morning but I thought maybe I would give you a break. The only reason is because I want your voices rested so you can join us for caroling at the Golden Living Center and Bristol Manor after church today.
Let me also express my thanks for those who planned, baked and attended her birthday celebration last Sunday evening. We are thankful for your kindness and the demonstration of love.
As many know, we have been studying the four songs recorded in the first two chapters of Luke. Each song was sung about the promise of or the reality Christ’s coming to earth. We have heard Elizabeth’s song of praise that her son John would be used to announce the Christ. We heard Mary’s song of gratitude for being chosen of God to carry the Christ. We heard the angels sing to shepherds proclaiming the birth of Christ.
Today, we will hear the final song of Luke’s record of Christ’s birth – Simeon’s Song.
Mary and Joseph had travelled to Bethlehem as part of Caesar Augustus’s decree that the whole Roman world be taxed and counted. But more importantly they were fulfilling the prophetic word of Micah that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem
While in Bethlehem Mary gave birth to her son. Magi from the East and shepherds from the hills surrounding Bethlehem visited the child. Gifts were offered. Angels sang. Stars appeared in the sky. It was an event like no other in history. Emmanuel – God with us – had arrived and the world would never be the same.
After the Magi left and the shepherds returned to their flocks, Mary and Joseph were left to raise the child they had now been blessed with.
As we all know Mary and Joseph were devout Jews. Because of their faith they knew there were certain obligations they would have to fulfill in order to satisfy the Law of Moses. We find the first of these obligations in Luke 2:21
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.
On the eighth day Joseph, or a hired rabbi called a Mohel, circumcises the newborn child.
• Even though the child was the Son of God – it was proper for Him to fulfill all the Law so His later testimony among the people would be legitimate.
• He was circumcised as an outward sign of His separation from the Gentiles and entrance into the community – he was “made like unto his brethren.” He was truly God incarnate in flesh.
• He was given the name JESUS – JEHOVAH IS SALVATION!
Look at Luke 2:22-23.
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”
Mary and Joseph travelled to Jerusalem from Bethlehem (6 or 7 miles) in order to present Jesus at The Temple. By this time Jesus is 40 days old.
• According to the Law of Moses, Mary was considered unclean for 40 days after giving birth to a boy. Because she was considered ceremonially unclean she could not enter the Temple until those 40 days had passed.
• But now her purification was complete and she, along with Joseph could “present” Jesus.
When the child was presented at the Temple Mary and Joseph were to “redeem” or “buy back” their firstborn son with an offering of 5 shekels (cf. Numbers 18:15-16).
• God had instituted this as a way to remind Israel of their deliverance from Egypt. It was to remind them of how God gave them the lives of their firstborn sons because of their obedience to place blood over their doorframes during the final plague.
• In reality God was pointing forward to a time when this child who is being presented at the Temple would REDEEM ALL OF MANKIND through repentance and faith.
The third thing Mary and Joseph were required to do was Purification of the Mother. Let’s look at Luke 2:24
24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
After Mary had completed her 40 days of purification the couple was required to offer a lamb (cf. Leviticus 12) and then the priest would declare her clean. However, Leviticus 12:8 tells us that if a woman could not afford a lamb then she could bring a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”