As Joseph and Mary approached the temple they stopped and looked up at the massive structure. Mary looked at Joseph, his mouth was open as he stared. “Do you think you’ll ever be involved in a project so grand?”
Joseph shook his head as he remained transfixed. “I don’t understand how someone as evil as Herod can be the force behind such a beautiful building for God.”
“It just goes to show that God can move in anyone’s heart to get His work done. We really must keep moving if you want to get back home and live like a married couple.”
Joseph looked at his wife, a smile preceded a blush. As they walked on he looked down at the crate he was carrying. “It doesn’t seem right that the parents of God’s Son can only afford two small birds to consecrate the Messiah.”
“If He wanted anything different He would have given the job to wealthier people. We’re doing all we can. That’s all He asks of anyone.” Mary looked down at the sleeping infant in her arms, a smile showed through the blanket opening.
Joseph glanced at Mary as they walked. “Do you know what today is? I mean the day this was supposed to be?”
“Its our wedding day.” A warm smile found her face.
“Today was originally scheduled to be the end of our betrothal period. I’m glad God worked it out so we could start our own family today of all days.” Joseph scanned the crowded outer sanctuary for the place they needed to be at.
Mary brought her left hand up to Joseph’s cheek, her thumb caressed his beard. “That’s what I said Dear Husband. Momma was right about men being rather slow on such events. I’m glad you remembered that on your own. I just wish we had somebody to share this moment with. Sometimes our journey is so lonely.” Suddenly the weight of the baby in her arm vanished.
Joseph’s eyes grew wide. “Simeon…!?”
The old man stared at the infant he now held. “I can now die in peace for I have seen the Anointed of God. The Messiah has come as a light to even the Gentiles.”
Simeon looked up at Mary, her mouth couldn’t decide to smile or gape. “This Child will cause the fall and rising of many in Israel… much misunderstood.” Then he paused, his eyebrows twitched downward. “…a sword will pierce your soul.” He looked at Joseph. “True hearts will be revealed.”
A very wrinkled woman approached, her bent fingers tugged the blanket down. “He’s finally here! He’s so… perfect.”
Simeon’s mouth hadn’t held such a big grin in many years. “Yes, Anna, He’s finally here. Just as God promised.”
Anna spun around, she grabbed the arm of a woman carrying a baby and pulled her over to see Jesus. “Look, it’s the Messiah!”
The young mother looked at Jesus, then at Mary. “What’s his name?”
Mary smiled. “His name is Jesus.”
“That’s what we named our son, too. We heard that’s to be the Messiah’s name. We hope our son is him, too.” She glanced at her husband, the sheep he held tugged at its rope.
He motioned for her to follow him. “Come along now. Let’s get this over with! I can’t keep the store closed all day. Tomorrow’s the Sabbath, two days down could ruin us.”
Mary looked at Joseph as the woman left. A tear rolled down his cheek. “He doesn’t understand at all.” Joseph whispered.
Anna worked her way through the crowd. Some of the people came to look at the child. A few only smiled in Mary’s direction. Most kept moving past the old woman, trying not to make eye contact.
Leviticus 12 lays out the Jewish laws concerning when a woman would be announced clean by the priest after giving birth. Eight days after the birth of a son he would be circumcised. Forty days after the birth the woman would be legally clean enough to enter the temple and offer her sacrifices for purification. If the couple could afford it they would bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a dove for a sin offering, otherwise two doves would suffice the requirements by law to make atonement for her. Joseph would have waited until this requirement before he would consummate their marriage.
At this same time Jesus would be consecrated to God because He was the firstborn son of Mary. The passover event in the book of Exodus precipitated this requirement of every Jewish family. The members of the tribe of Levi stood in as the actual Jews who were to do the duties in the temple, but the firstborn son was still ceremonially set aside to God’s service. These were the reasons for this trip to Jerusalem.
A strangely wonderful thing happens to those few who develop their relationship with God to the point of it being said that they are filled with the Holy Spirit. They hear the voice of God. Maybe not in an audible way, but they feel His heartbeat as it affects those around them. Of such were Simeon and Anna, two temple searchers who looked for the Messiah in their day. They didn’t live long enough to see any of the miracles that Jesus would later perform, but they were joyous in the fact that they witnessed the Promised One in their lifetime. It was enough for them, their faith was rewarded.
And what of Mary? It is repeated of her that she pondered things in her heart. No doubt she thought deeply about Simeon’s out-of-context phrase. She probably recalled that exact moment when the Roman soldier pierced Jesus’ side with his spear while His lifeless body hung on the cross. Pondering is a lost art to most in today’s society. We’re too busy to soak in the full meaning of anything. Our attention span only allows for entertainment.
Ponderers are the ones God speaks to best.
I’ll see you later. Wade