21 When the eight days were completed for His circumcision, He was named Jesus —the name given by the angel before He was conceived. 22 And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (just as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord) 24 and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons).
25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said: 29 “Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, as You promised. 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation. 31 You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples— 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.” 33 His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about Him.
34 Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed — 35 and a sword will pierce your own soul —that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” 36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. 38 At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on Him.
41 Every year His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. 42 When He was 12 years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival. 43 After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it. 44 Assuming He was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him. 46 After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all those who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers.
48 When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.” 49 “Why were you searching for Me?” He asked them. “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what He said to them. 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
“Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” —Luke 2:49b
At first glance, these stories might seem to be strung together as a quick overview of some highlights from Jesus’ childhood—a way for Luke to move quickly from the birth of Jesus to His public ministry, the “real” business of Luke’s gospel. But these stories are carefully placed, and they each tell us something central to Luke’s Gospel: who Jesus is and why He came.
This is the lens through which Simeon and Anna were praying and watching the events of their day. Luke tells us that both of them were looking for the “consolation” or “redemption” of Israel.
They were watching for God to fulfill all the promises made in the Old Testament. They were looking for the Messiah, the appointed Servant whom God would send to accomplish everything He promised. Because they were looking through this lens, they recognized Jesus when they saw Him.
They also understood why He had come. Simeon spoke about Christ’s destiny: He is the Light who will bring salvation to the Gentiles: He is the glory of the people of Israel. He will be the point of controversy: a stumbling block to some and salvation to others. He will face opposition. And a sword. And He will reveal the hearts of men.
Jesus would later say many of these same things about Himself. Even as a boy, we see that Jesus understood who He was and why He had come: Didn’t you know I had to be about My Father’s business?
Jesus lived for only 33 years on this earth—only 3 years in public ministry. He didn’t heal everyone or perform a miracle every time. He didn’t take on the Romans, as many expected, or go to every town. But at the end of His life, He was able to say to His Father, “I have finished the work You gave me to do” (John 17:4). How did He choose?
Luke gives us a clue. He brackets the story of the boy Jesus in the temple with two parallel statements: Jesus grew and became filled with wisdom. The Greek word for wisdom is sophia. It means “skilled at living.”
Where do we acquire this kind of skill at living? Proverbs 1:7 tells us the fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom. To fear God is to know who God is and what He is about—to value these supremely. Because Jesus knew who His Father was and what His Father’s business was, He was skilled at living out His own identity and destiny.
- After a year spent with Jesus in the New Testament, do you understand who He is and why He came? How would you explain it to someone?
- Do you understand who God is? Do you understand what His purpose, His business, is throughout history and in the world today? How would you describe it?
- Can you recognize God at work around you? How willing are you to join Him?
- When you are forced to choose between your to-do list and what God has given you to do, how do you respond? What kind of adjustments are required?
- How might this lens change the way you view the events of your day and this time in history?