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Advent Readings: Day 23

For this Advent season we offer you a Bible reading for each day which points to the first coming of the Lord Jesus at Christmas and his return in glory!

Luke 2:21 - 40

21On 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.

22When 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”), 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27Moved 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, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

33The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

A few comments

There is something bizarre and incongruous about Simeon’s great declaration in verses 29-32. All through the Old Testament we’ve seen how the greatest of humans have failed to bring salvation to God’s people and the truth of God to the other nations. By the end of Malachi you are longing for a king mightier than David, wiser than Solomon, who preached more compellingly than Isaiah… And instead, God reveals to Simeon that the answer is this tiny vulnerable baby born to a poor couple from a dusty village. He is God’s salvation. He is God’s light to the nations.

This is still the pattern with God – his mighty power is seen in unexpected places and his servants appear weak and frail. God’s might works are rarely well-resourced or widely reported in the press. Just as the baby must have seemed thoroughly unremarkable to any who even noticed him in the temple that day, so too the work of God in our day and our church will often seem unremarkable at the time and on the surface.

Point for Prayer

That we would not wobble in our faith when we can’t see obvious mighty signs of God’s work in ourselves and our churches. Pray too that like Anna we who have seen God’s salvation in Jesus would tell others!