December 29, 2013

The Presentation of Jesus Christ at the Temple

The next account found in Luke 2, though not as well known as the appearance of the angels to the shepherds, is the presentation of Jesus Christ in the Temple forty days after he was born (see Luke 2:21-39).

According to the Law of Moses, a woman was considered unclean because of the blood that was associated with birth (see Leviticus 12). Anytime anybody touched blood in any way, they were considered unclean. If you touched a dead body, if you helped somebody that had been wounded, you would be considered unclean for seven days. On the eighth day the child, if male, was circumcised, and they were given a name. Thirty-three days later, for a total of forty days, the woman was to come to the temple and offer a sacrifice to complete the cleansing process because of the birth of the child.

The woman was to offer a lamb and a turtledove or a pigeon as part of the sacrifice (see Leviticus 12:6). If the woman did not have enough money, she was able to offer two turtledoves, or two pigeons instead (see Leviticus 12:8). We know that Mary and Joseph must have been poor because of the fact that they were only able to bring two turtledoves instead of the normal sacrifice of a lamb and a turtledove (see Luke 2:24).

Next in the account, we learn of Simeon and Anna who come and find the baby Jesus. Simeon had been waiting on the Lord and was a righteous man who was looking for the signs of the Messiah. When he saw the baby Jesus, he knew who he was (see Luke 2:25-32). Likewise, Anna who is called a prophetess, when she heard the words of Simeon immediately knew who Jesus Christ was. We read of her that she “served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (see Luke 2:37-38).

The interesting thing is how both of them respond; Simeon responds by praising God, Anna responds by telling everybody around her, both giving us an example of how we as disciples of Christ should act. Like Simeon, we should be looking for the signs of the Messiah, we should be looking for the signs of his second coming. And like Anna, as we learn about him, and as we hear more about his teachings, we should be willing to tell everybody around us.

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