Luke 2:22-40 The Consolation of Israel
As we study Luke, we have been looking at it from at least two views, one is the content that is being conveyed and what that means for us, the other is the reason why Luke has included certain things for the certainty of Theophilus to whom he is writing this letter. Today as we look at this text we will do the same thing. You will notice as we read that we get two more people who are witnesses, even from Jesus’ birth of the fact that this baby is the savior. We also get more clues as to what his purpose is in being there.
Let me give you a quick rundown of the elements of this story:
Mary and Joseph were pious Jews, they followed the Law of Moses to be purified.
40 Days after Jesus’ birth. This was to remove the ceremonially uncleanness from them after childbirth, in Leviticus 12, every woman who has had a child is ceremonially unclean for either 33, or 66 days, and must be purified. This required two sacrifices, A lamb for a burnt offering, and a pigeon for a sin offering.
The burnt offering You can read about in Leviticus 1. It is the most costly offering to the Lord, because there is nothing left but the skin of whatever was burnt. The motivation of a burnt offering could be thanksgiving, penitence, vows, and self dedication. The common theme when scripture talks about a burnt offering is the pleasing aroma to the Lord. My guess is that in this context of being cleansed after a child, it is partially an offering of thanksgiving to the Lord for providing the child. There are two levels, if you will of what is prescribed to be used for the burnt offering. If someone has the means, a lamb should be offered, but if the person does not have the means they could bring a turtledove, or pigeon as Mary and Joseph did, which shows us that they were either poor, or of modest means.
The next Sacrifice is the sin offering, this was an offering of atonement for sins that had been committed. This offering was about the sprinkling of blood to atone for sins. It is also called a purification ritual, because the blood was purifying what had been made unclean by sin.
The second thing that is happening is that They are presenting Jesus to the Lord as the first born son. Exodus 13:1, “God says to consecrate to me all the firstborn.” so they are consecrating Jesus to the Lord as well as offering atonement for their sins.
We then meet the next witness in Luke’s case for Jesus, Simeon.
devout, Righteous, waiting for the consolation (paraklesis) of Israel.
He Prophesies over Jesus, recognizing what the Lord had told him that he would not die until he sees the Christ.
After he Prophesied we meet another witness Anna, who had bee a widow for most of her life. She too saw what was going on and began to tell people of what she saw.
Now, lets take a few minutes and look at the content of Simeon’s prophesy:
Jesus is Salvation… nothing new there…
A light for revelation to the Gentiles… this is new…This is huge…
Glory for your people Israel…
Appointed for the falling and rising of many in Israel… Jesus’ life was one of division and destruction. Those who do not receive Him face the full force of God’s wrath towards sin. Those who do, receive mercy and eternal life.
A sign that is opposed…
A sword will pierce your heart also…