Today we’re going to split our reading up into chunks with some pauses to think more about each part as we go along.
Read Verses 22-24
Sometimes when you read, hear or watch a story there are little details – things that don’t seem to be important until you really pay attention to them. If you are familiar with Sherlock Holmes these are the sort of things that he regularly spots that have made the many books, films and TV series based on his character so popular. We’re talking about seemingly small details which are easy to overlook but which, once you really understand their significance, cast the whole story in a different light.
Today’s reading has one of those little details right at the start. Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph are bringing Jesus to the Temple to be dedicated to the Lord and Luke throws in a small but important detail: “They offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord – “either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons”.”
That little detail is actually really powerful and wonderful. Because all the way back in Leviticus 12, where the instructions are first given for the sacrifice people like Mary and Joseph should bring, the people are told to bring a lamb. But then it says that if they are too poor to afford a lamb, they can bring doves instead.
So we learn from that little detail that Mary and Joseph were just a peasant family bringing to the temple the little that they could afford.
Read verses 25-33
Simeon is an elderly man who Luke says has been waiting for God to fulfil a promise to him. As Jesus is handed to Simeon there is an amazing moment where he recognises that that this is the one that he has been waiting for.
But then his tone seems to change:
Read verses 34-35
Those must have been difficult words to hear.
But later people would realise that as Jesus fulfilled them, the was the “lamb of God”. As he gave his life, he was the one perfect sacrifice, which all the other sacrifices pointed towards.
Joseph and Mary thought that they couldn’t afford to bring a lamb with them the temple. But actually although they didn’t realise it at the time, they did bring a lamb. The lamb. The lamb of God.
Mary and Joseph couldn’t afford a lamb, but they still offered God all that they could. Gave their sacrifice of doves, and even more than that devoted their precious son to God.
As they did so, they couldn’t afford a lamb. But God provided the lamb. Jesus was and is the lamb they couldn’t give.
For us the challenge might be this, We can’t “pay the price”, we can’t give God enough, he did it already. He already was our sacrifice. Our lamb.
And as we know that and receive that, we can realise that he loves us to bring what we do have. To offer out of our own poverty. Like Mary and Joseph, to bring to God the little that we have, offering it to him and, even if we feel like our contribution is only a small, insignificant thing, to trust that through it Jesus can work to achieve something that we never expected.
This talk was followed by the activity “Offering“