Imagine if you will, a young couple proudly presenting their precious baby boy before family members and witnesses as that sweet child is dedicated to the Lord. Many churches today have some type of baby dedication service where Christian parents promise to raise a child in the ways of the Lord God. It is a joyous time in the life of a new family. A similar, although quite different ceremony, is where we find Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus in Luke 2:22-38.
According to the law of Moses, the firstborn of all creatures belonged to God. In Mary and Joseph’s day it was required that a firstborn son be redeemed from his service to the Lord. The pidyon-haben (redemption of the firstborn son) was an important rite for law-abiding Israelites. In a moving scene set against the backdrop of the temple, the father is asked by the priest to offer a sacrifice for the privilege of keeping his son.
Don’t you wonder how Joseph and Mary prepared for this occasion, how it played out in their minds as they traveled to Jerusalem? Stranger still is this paradox: in accordance with the law, the Redeemer of mankind was being taken to the Temple to be redeemed. And yet all was going exactly according to the plan of God.
Whatever Mary and Joseph planned or imagined, I feel certain it was not their intention for the presentation to be interrupted by a stranger called Simeon on mission from God [see the December 13 devotional for more about Simeon]. Nor do I suppose that the elderly widowed prophetess Anna’s appearance was anticipated. However, almost like surrogate grandparents, they fit perfectly into God’s plan for the day of His only son’s redemption ceremony.
There is no telling how long Anna or Simeon prayed for and awaited the day of the Promised One. Luke tells us very little about the uninvited guests other than both were devout followers of God. Although Simeon came to the temple grounds due to a prompting of the Spirit, Anna was a different story. She never left the grounds. The eighty-four years of her widowhood were spent in service to the Father, praying, worshiping and fasting right there at the temple. Her nearly lifelong dedication was rewarded with the revelation of the baby Jesus, the Messiah. Luke also reveals that Anna didn’t keep the news to herself. She spoke to ALL who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Just as Anna waited for the Messiah’s arrival, we also wait. We watch and wait for Jesus’ Second Coming, for the day He comes to redeem us and claim us as His own. Because of examples such as Anna’s found in the Bible, I believe it’s evident that our waiting should be done patiently but not idly; the Lord has prepared good works for us to be doing. Anna was a devoted lady in waiting all her days, and scripture tells us that her devotion was rewarded.
“For this reason the Lord is ready to show you mercy; he sits on his throne, ready to have compassion on you. Indeed, the Lord is a just God; all who wait for him in faith will be blessed.” Isaiah 30:18
TO PONDER IN YOUR HEART: How about you? Are you a lady in waiting–patiently, expectantly, and actively waiting on the Lord?