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The Child Who Was Promised

The Child Who Was Promised

LUKE 2:21-39


Joseph and Mary remain in Bethlehem rather than return to Nazareth. When Jesus is eight days old, they have him circumcised, as God’s Law to Israel commands. (Leviticus 12:2, 3) It is also the custom to give a baby boy his name on that day. They name their son Jesus, as the angel Gabriel had directed.

More than a month passes, and Jesus is 40 days old. Where do his parents now take him? Up to the temple in Jerusalem, which is only a few miles from where they are staying. The Law says that 40 days after giving birth to a son, a mother is required to present a purification offering at the temple.​—Leviticus 12:4-8.

Mary does that. As her offering, she brings two small birds. This tells us something about the economic situation of Joseph and Mary. According to the Law, a young ram and a bird should be offered. But if the mother cannot afford a ram, two turtledoves or two pigeons will suffice. That is Mary’s situation and what she offers.

At the temple, an aged man approaches Joseph and Mary. His name is Simeon. God has revealed to him that before he dies, he will see Jehovah’s promised Christ, or Messiah. This day Simeon is directed by holy spirit to the temple, where he finds Joseph and Mary with their infant son. Simeon takes the baby into his arms.

While holding Jesus, Simeon thanks God, saying: “Now, Sovereign Lord, you are letting your slave go in peace according to your declaration, because my eyes have seen your means of salvation that you have prepared in the sight of all the peoples, a light for removing the veil from the nations and a glory of your people Israel.”​—Luke 2:29-32.

Joseph and Mary are amazed to hear this. Simeon blesses them and tells Mary that her son “is appointed for the falling and the rising again of many in Israel” and that sorrow, like a sharp sword, will run through her.​—Luke 2:34.

Someone else is present on this day. It is Anna, an 84-year-old prophetess. Actually, she is never missing from the temple. In this very hour, she comes to Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus. Anna begins thanking God and speaking about Jesus to all who will listen.

You can imagine how Joseph and Mary rejoice over these events at the temple! Surely, all of this confirms to them that their son is the Promised One of God.