Law-abiding: Day ten
Please enjoy today's reflection from our September-December issue of New Daylight.
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons’. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him.
Luke 2:22 - 25 (NRSV)
Luke 2:22 - 25 (NRSV)
Under the law of Moses, after the birth of a male child, his mother is regarded as unclean for seven days and has to remain at home for a further 33 days; then a purification sacrifice must be offered. A firstborn child has to be redeemed – an animal is sacrificed, but a human child is redeemed by paying five shekels when they are a month old. The child does not need to be present, but it seems that Mary wants specially to dedicate her child to God, just as Hannah offered Samuel.
What stands out in this passage is Mary and Joseph’s scrupulous observance of the requirements of the law, echoed in the description of Simeon as ‘righteous and devout’: that is, in right relationship with God and wholehearted in his practice of worship. Although we are told that the Holy Spirit rests on him, this is not yet the age of the new covenant, when the Holy Spirit is poured out and salvation comes by faith, rather than by works. For now, all are living still under the old covenant, under law, though grace is just around the corner. Faithfulness, then, is marked by attention to what is required by ‘the law of the Lord’ and a steadfast trust that his promises will be fulfilled, however long that may take.
And that is surely all that is asked of any of us: to walk faithfully in whatever light we have received.
God of revelation, may we be wholehearted in our response to all you have already shown us, and to hunger and thirst for more of your righteousness, truth and love.
Written by SHEILA WALKER
Find our New Daylight Bible reading notes