December 26 - 31
“The Prophecy of Simeon”
Monday, December 26 Matthew 2:1-12
“They fell down and worshipped him”
Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, a small town a couple miles south of Jerusalem. It was here that Jacob had buried Rachel; it was here that Ruth had lived when she married Boaz. More significantly, Bethlehem was the home of David and it remained in the history of Israel as uniquely the City of David. It was from the City of David that the Jewish community expected David’s greatest descendant to be born; from this city they expected God’s appointed Messiah, as predicted by the prophet Micah.
The magi represent Gentiles coming from distant areas of the world to worship the Christ. Apparently the wise men took some length of time after the birth of Christ to arrive in Bethlehem. There is no indication that they found Jesus in a stable; rather, we are told that they “came into the house.” It may have been all of two years until they actually arrived and found the “young child” (not, “baby” or “infant”), Jesus, for the text tells us that Herod’s attempt to destroy the “King of the Jews” included all of the boy children two years and under.
Like the wise men, Lord, I have found you and I worship you. Amen.
Tuesday, December 27 Matthew 2:13-18
“An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph”
Once again Joseph receives a message from an angel in a dream, this time instructing him to take the child Jesus and his mother and flee into Egypt. The instruction is very explicit that Herod would seek to take the child’s life and that they were to stay in Egypt until God gave them the next word of direction. The flight to Egypt was not especially unusual for a Jewish family. Through the history of Israel, in numerous times of persecution, Jewish people sought refuge in Egypt. In every major city in Egypt there was a colony of Jews. As a consequence, Joseph and Mary would have had no problem finding associations amidst their own people for the brief period of living there.
We are told that Herod felt tricked by the wise men. Having inquired of the magi as to when they had first seen the star and begun their journey, in his anger he concluded that he needed to kill all the male children the age of two years and under in order to ensure that any child born to be king would now be dead.
Human wickedness, Lord, will not ruin your plan for our salvation. Amen.
Wednesday, December 28 Matthew 2:19-23
“So they went and lived in a town called Nazareth”
Once again, divine instructions led Joseph, and he took Jesus and his mother, Mary, and returned to Israel. Again, he was instructed by God in a dream not to stay in Judea, and he journeyed on to Galilee. Upon Herod’s death, the kingdom he had ruled was divided into three parts, one for each of his sons. Judea was left to Archelaus, Galilee was left to Herod Antipas, and the northeast region beyond the Jordan River was left to Philip. While Archelaus continued the pattern of violence of his father, Herod Antipas reigned with a more tolerant and peaceful authority.
Nazareth was a town located on the trade routes of the Middle East. The great western road led to the Mediterranean Sea where ships came and went from Rome, and “the way of the south” carried the huge trade caravans from Damascus in the north to Egypt in the south. Jesus’ boyhood days would have exposed him to the cultures and philosophies of people of all nations. Later, he would preach the good news of God’s grace, the gospel for all the world.
As did Joseph, Lord, may I obey your directions for my life. Amen.
December 26 - 31
“The Prophecy of Simeon”
Thursday, December 29 Luke 2:21-24
“His name was called Jesus”
As any eight-day-old Jewish boy would be, Jesus is circumcised and officially given his name, “Jesus.” Jesus was born to parents who kept the laws of Judaism, engaging in the prescribed rites of purification after the birth of a child and travelling to Jerusalem to present Jesus to the Lord. Such acts of piety show that Jesus has roots in pious faith. The point is significant because of Jesus’ later conflict with the Jewish religious leadership. Does he challenge them because he was raised in a home that did not honor the faith? Obviously not. Jesus came from a family that sought to honor God.
The journey of Jesus’ parents to the temple combines three separate ceremonies as recorded in God’s law: the purification of a woman forty days after the birth of a child, the presentation of the firstborn to God, and the dedication of the firstborn into the Lord’s service. Though this dedication to service is like many others that took place in Israel for centuries, this one is unique because of the call of this child.
My life is dedicated, Lord, to your service. Amen.
Friday,December 30 Luke 2:25-35
“My eyes have seen your salvation”
While Joseph and Mary were in the temple with Jesus, they met a pious old man, Simeon. We are not told Simeon’s vocation; all we know is that he is “righteous and devout.” Whereas the shepherds symbolized the average person on the street, Simeon represents the testimony of a wise elder who has walked with God. Part of his wisdom is seen in that he is looking for the hope of the nation, the fulfillment of God’s promise. Saints in touch with God’s heart look expectantly for God’s will to be done in the world.
Simeon is expectant that God will deliver Israel. He has not given up believing that God will complete his promise, and his living in light of that hope brings perspective to the present. The Spirit, the source of all revelation and testimony, has told him that before he passes away, he will see “the Lord’s Christ.” Therefore, when the child Jesus arrives, he is there and is led by God to offer a note of praise. In his song, which includes some prediction, not all the notes are happy, for the career of the Lord’s Christ, though glorious, is not absent of trial and disappointment.
Help me, Lord, to see how you are at work in the world. Amen.
Saturday, December 31 Luke 2:36-40
“Anna, a prophetess, was also there”
The second prophetic witness in the temple is Anna (the first being Simeon – see above). The Greek text is not clear whether she had been a widow for eighty-four years (thus, being well over one hundred years old when she sees Jesus), or is eighty-four years of age (some English translations go one way, others go the other way). Regardless, she has served God faithfully with worship, prayer, and fasting for years since she lost her husband after only seven years of marriage. Sometimes our most productive years in spiritual service for God come after our most productive years of marriage and family.
Like Simeon, she hopes for “the redemption of Jerusalem” and tells others that the baby Jesus is a reason for praising and thanking God. While her words are not recorded in Luke, her testimony makes everyone aware that God is doing something special through this child. Those who are faithful to God will hear her report and share in her praise. After these days of worship, Jesus’ parents return home and set about raising their child.
May I serve you well, Lord, until my final day here on earth. Amen.