The Presentation: God’s revelation
“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
1 Corinthians 12:5-7 (NIV)
As the law required, Joseph and Mary bring the forty-day old Jesus to the temple. All around them the life of the temple goes on: priests, Levites, and scribes mill around. The sellers of the livestock and birds and the money changers are plying their trade; the ordinary people are coming and going. It’s probably quite noisy. They all go about their business unaware of what God is about to reveal to four people in his service (Luke 2:22-38).
Simeon sees the baby and he knows that he is looking at salvation: a light to the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. He delivers a personal message to Mary. It is given to him to give words that will be recorded for all peoples of the world to come. His work is over.
Anna comes up – she’s also old and coming to the end of her life, but her work is not done. She’s not given a specific prophecy to pass on, but with the knowledge of redemption that is given to her she bustles away to spread the news: she’s an evangelist with a mission.
For Mary there’s no great ‘oh I see’ moment. Without understanding she stores Simeon’s words in her heart. What was said to her that day was just part of the continuing revelation of who her son was, as she would see the ministry, the death, the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, till together with John, she is there with the disciples in the upper room and at Pentecost.
And Joseph? It seems he dies at some point in Jesus’ upbringing because there is no mention of him after Jesus was twelve. Not for him the despair of the cross or the ecstasy of the resurrection, or the fiery experience of the coming of the Holy Spirit. It would seem that understanding for him will come at a future time.
So in a few moments in the temple, through the lives of four people we see God working his purpose out in different ways but all for the furtherance of his redemptive work. So as Peter tells us, whatever our calling, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).
Father, we rejoice for the calling you have given us and trust you for the place where you have put us, through Christ who placed all his trust in you and was faithful to his calling to death.
Study by Hilary Buck
Grace Communion – Lewes
The Priory School
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