Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint
Today’s Passage: Luke 2
We’re just gonna chill in Luke 2 again today. More things happen here than just angels visiting shepherds, and when you spend a whole post focused on just one verse, you haven’t really hit all the bases.
So, what are the bases here? Yesterday we breezed past the journey to Bethlehem (necessitated by a Roman census) and the birth of Jesus in what appears to be some sort of stable or other manger-having location, because the local inn had no vacancy. After the shepherds get the angel’s message about the newborn Savior, they visit him, telling his parents about what the angel told them, which gives Mary ample food for thought (19). Jesus is formally named and circumcised, and then we come to a few bases that we’re going to hang out on for a bit longer.
There are roughly seven or eight bases in this chapter. It makes for a very weird game of baseball.
One of these bases is a trip to Jerusalem. See, the Torah prohibits a woman from entering the temple or touching consecrated objects for thirty-three days after her son is circumcised, and after that it commands her to offer a sacrifice (Leviticus 12). Mary and Joseph go to Jerusalem to follow the protocol, and Mary ends up offering two birds, an acceptable substitute for those too poor to sacrifice a lamb.
Luke also refers to a verse from Exodus. He notes in an aside, “As it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord'” (Luke 2:23, cf. Exodus 13:2), and the rest of Exodus 13 explains that sacrifices are offered for firstborns as a reminder of Israel’s liberation from Egypt. It recalls how God poured out his wrath on Egypt’s firstborns in order to rescue the Israelites from slavery. Once again, Luke’s account is weaving in that theme of salvation, and if you didn’t know your Exodus or at least the parts to reread for a refresher on the significance of firstborns, you’d miss the flags.
See, the bases have flags.
In the temple, an elderly man named Simeon and an eighty-four-year-old, widowed prophetess named Anna notice the newborn Jesus. They’ve both been waiting on the Messiah, waiting for God to move, and they’re elated to see him within their lifetime. I could probably dig up and discover hidden truths by the bucket in Simeon’s prophecies; I get a looking-through-the-keyhole feeling just reading them. But one thing I recognize: “For my eyes have seen Your salvation” (30). Simeon sees the presence of that same thing the angel told the shepherds about, that same thing buried in the meaning of Jesus’ name. It’s rescue; it’s remedy. Everyone knows there’s something wrong with the world, but Simeon got to hold in his hands the solution.
It’s not really part of the Christmas story as such, but the chapter concludes with the story of twelve-year-old Jesus’ Home-Alone-2-Lost-in-New-York-style big-city adventure and theological conversations with the rabbis of Jerusalem. In any event, we’ve hit all the bases, so it’s time to dribble on down the field to the next wicket. Tomorrow: Luke 3!