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And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” – Luke 2:22-35
Luke includes some seemingly inconsequential facts in this portion of his account of Jesus’ presentation and circumcision. For some reason he needs us to know that this was done in obedience to the Law of Moses, including the need to offer a sacrifice of two turtledoves or two young pigeons. I suppose those details are there in order to give us some context for what is about to happen.
It seems more significant that Simeon is a righteous man who was waiting for the consolation of Israel. These are more obviously important. Three times Luke mentions the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. That’s important to be sure. All this is coming together as a ballet of God’s grace.
God is not aloof, nor is he content to act and leave it at that. He desires that we know him. He desires that we perceive his work. He desires that we believe in him. He desires that we find joy in his grace. All that comes together here.
God has acted. He has taken on human flesh. He has revealed this to shepherds in the fields. He has announced it with the praise of angels. The shepherds have told everyone they met of the message of the angels and birth of the Savior. Now he is letting Simeon know that he can depart in peace. He has fulfilled his promise. Jesus is God’s salvation, and Simeon has seen it with his own eyes.
But what about that Law of Moses and Law of the Lord comments? Here is something to learn. God often sets the table for extraordinary things with ordinary tableware. Shepherds and stables. Turtledoves and temple visits. Daily devotions and an afternoon walk. Morning coffee and a phone call or text with a friend. Add the Holy Spirit and you have the makings of God at work.
Our response may not be as significant as Simeon’s. For his was truly a once-in-all-of-history event. But whenever the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see his ballet of grace in our lives, we surely must also sing his praise.