Christmas 1 • Luke 2:22–40 • December 27, 2015
By Todd Jones
Joy to the world, Christmas has come! For many, the joy of this holiday season is in the opened gifts and the abundant food and beverage options. The glow of that Christmas is fading fast. Our text today challenges us to rediscover the joy that gave a song of love for the ages, Joy to the World, the Lord has come! The joy of the things of this world is as empty as the packages strewn around our floors and the platter of Aunt Bessie’s pumpkin pie. In contrast, our Christ fills us with a joy that cannot be contained, a joy that can redefine our lives, from those who are waiting to those who are witnessing.
2:22: The purification requirements referenced in the text are found in Leviticus 12 and the redemption laws for the firstborn are found in Exodus 13 and Numbers 3:47‒51. Note that they came to the temple for two reasons, the purification of Mary and the redemption (presentation) of their firstborn son, Jesus. With this passage Luke demonstrates the integrity of Joseph and Mary. Their integrity and the integrity of Simeon and Anna stood in contrast to the corruption of the opportunistic money changers, the greedy priests, and Pharisees who bent religion to serve their needs.
2:24: Redemption of the firstborn. A quick search online found that you can spend about $10‒$80 per bird, depending on the variety, and a lamb would cost about $100 if purchased today.
2:25: Notice that Simeon is just a man. He is not a prophet or one of the priesthood, he is just a man. However, he is a man that is righteous before God and upright before man.
2:26: Revelation and light are important cues in this text. Jesus, the Christ, was revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit and Jesus would be the light for the Gentiles and the glory, the brilliance for the Jews.
2:29: Some interpret Simeon’s words as an expression of relief from a burden lifted. Not unlike countless people who struggle with depression or lingering illness that cry out, “why doesn’t the Lord just take me.” However, a closer look at the text reveals that Simeon and Anna’s celebration is not from a burden lifted but a gift given. Both Anna and Simeon came to the temple with nothing but a promise. Both leave with a heart full of hope and a message so wonderful that it transforms the tired fixtures of the temple into bold witnesses of God’s promise fulfilled.
2:32: Notice the order of Simeon’s words. One would expect the Israelites to be mentioned first. At the very least, the Gentiles should be totally subdued and humiliated before Israel is exalted. But that is not the case. Jesus will bring truth, and the freedom it gives to the Gentiles. The fulfillment God made to Abraham, Moses, and David brings glory to the nation of Israel. The salvation of the Gentiles is to Israel’s glory. It vindicates their long wait.
Exegetical idea: Luke reveals the true mission of Jesus the Messiah. Through Simeon and Anna we see the transformative power of Christ on the lives of God’s people.
Homiletic idea: Jesus and his mission challenge us to redefine joy in our lives.
Malady: Too often we see joy as freedom from a burden. The burden might be obedience to God’s word, or lingering in this life without one we love, or struggling with an illness that leaves us begging for a quick passage to heaven.
Means: Joy is found, not in having empty hands, but having hands and a heart that are full of the right things. Things like: the gift of salvation given to us in baptism, the promise that we will never be alone, the truth that the gospel light really does change people even as it changes the world.