Letting the Spirit Lead: Luke 2:21-38

Focus Passage: Luke 2:21-38 (GNT)

21 A week later, when the time came for the baby to be circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name which the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

22 The time came for Joseph and Mary to perform the ceremony of purification, as the Law of Moses commanded. So they took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, 23 as it is written in the law of the Lord: “Every first-born male is to be dedicated to the Lord.” 24 They also went to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the law of the Lord.

25 At that time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, God-fearing man and was waiting for Israel to be saved. The Holy Spirit was with him 26 and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s promised Messiah. 27 Led by the Spirit, Simeon went into the Temple. When the parents brought the child Jesus into the Temple to do for him what the Law required, 28 Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God:

29 “Now, Lord, you have kept your promise,
    and you may let your servant go in peace.
30 With my own eyes I have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples:
32 A light to reveal your will to the Gentiles
    and bring glory to your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother were amazed at the things Simeon said about him. 34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, “This child is chosen by God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God which many people will speak against 35 and so reveal their secret thoughts. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.”

36-37 There was a very old prophet, a widow named Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She had been married for only seven years and was now eighty-four years old. She never left the Temple; day and night she worshiped God, fasting and praying. 38 That very same hour she arrived and gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were waiting for God to set Jerusalem free.

Read Luke 2:21-38 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In the days that followed Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem to have Him dedicated. In their trip to the temple, there are some interesting things that stand out in my mind – especially knowing what Jesus ultimately faces 30+ years later.

Luke tells us that “At that time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, God-fearing man and was waiting for Israel to be saved. The Holy Spirit was with him and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s promised Messiah.” (v. 25-26)

I have always pictured Simeon as being one of the priests on duty at the temple for Jesus’ dedication, but according to what Luke tells us, Simeon was simply a God-fearing man who the Holy Spirit was with. “Led by the Spirit, Simeon went into the Temple. When the parents brought the child Jesus into the Temple to do for him what the Law required, Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God.” (v. 27-28)

What really stands out in my mind is that too often, we are quick to believe that those in Jerusalem had fallen away from God because of how the priests and leaders treated Jesus. However, in this passage, at the time of Jesus’ birth, we see a glimpse of someone (Luke does not give him a title) who God was with and who God had promised would live to see the Messiah arrive.

In the description of Simeon, we see hope for God’s chosen people, even if many of the leaders were unwilling to accept the Messiah who had recently arrived. In Simeon’s life, we can see a promise from God about seeing the Messiah arrive. In this promise, we can see God’s direction, His leading, and the choice on our part to follow. Simeon was led by the Spirit at exactly the right time to meet Jesus, and He was one of the first to truly grasp that this baby was the Messiah that God had promised to send to His people.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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