The Nunc Dimittis

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

March 2, 2023

Luke 2:21-40

Jesus presented at the temple

“The Nunc Dimittis”

The photo you see above is of my Mom. The year is 1951. She is holding me in her arms, and we are 0n the way to church for my baptism.

I was born on June 30. I know very little about my baptism other than it was in the Catholic Church. But I do know I was baptized 2-3 weeks after my birth. I know this because I was a Cesarean birth, and my Mom was in the hospital for over a week after I was born.

When I was born, my family lived in an apartment in Chicago, just off Waveland ave. and Grace St. If the word Waveland and Chicago rings a bell with you at all, it’s because Waveland runs just outside Wrigley Field (Right Field). At the time, we only lived 4 blocks from the park. Perhaps that’s why I’m a lifelong Cubs fan. 😊

Sorry I got a little off track.

A little over 2000 years ago, Jesus was born. He, too, was presented at the temple (church). It’s interesting how rituals change and how much religious laws dictated when and how the mother and son could be presented at the temple.

*************************The Point*********************

As you read the account of Jesus’ presentation at the temple, let’s focus on three things. The circumcision and purification, Simeon, and the prophet Anna.

“On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Now, there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be spoken against so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.” Luke 2:21-40

I’m not sure if you picked up on it, but circumcision and purification were two separate events. The circumcision of Jesus took place eight days after He was born. We don’t know where it took place. But when it did, it was the day He was given the name Jesus as Gabriel told Mary to do. Joseph was told to give him the name Jesus during a dream in the Gospel of Matthew.

“an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21

The purification rites were for Mary, not Jesus. Jewish law said that after the birth of a male child, his mother was unclean for seven days. She was then required to stay home for an additional 33 days. Following this period, a purification sacrifice had to be offered. As stated in the text, the sacrifice was two doves or two pigeons. Mary and Joseph were not affluent, so they probably provided two pigeons as sacrifices.

As you read in the Bible passage, Simeon had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until after he saw the coming Savior, Jesus Christ. So Simeon was “Moved by the Spirit” to enter the temple. There he encountered Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus.

At that moment, Simeon knew that this baby was the Christ. So he took Jesus into his arms and praised God.

Simeon’s praise song is called the “Nunc Dimittis.” The words Nunc Dimittis mean, “Now let us depart” The Holy Spirit had done exactly what He promised. Simeon had seen the Savior of the world before he died.

Once again, here is Simeon’s song/words, The Nunc Dimittis.

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and the glory of your people Israel.”

It’s pretty self-explanatory. The Holy Spirits’ promise had been fulfilled. Simeon had seen the source of the salvation of the world, Jesus. He was ready to depart this world.

As late-night commercials say, “But wait, there’s more.” Enter Anna. The NIV calls her a prophetess. Perhaps, her words were not quite as dramatic as Simeon’s, but when she saw the baby, Jesus, she gave thanks to God. She, like Simeon, recognized the baby as the promised Savior. Then, Anna took it one more step. She went out and spread the word of the newborn Savior to everyone who would listen.

Luke’s account does not speak of the coming of wise men. But, he does say something at the end of this passage that I have always felt was necessary.

“He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.”

One only has to think of Jesus’ encounters later in life and the wisdom He showed as He spoke, healed, and taught. God’s grace was truly upon Him.

Remember this. As a believer and follower of Jesus, God’s grace is upon you too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s