I want us to look at Luke 2:22-24
Luke 2:22 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 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”[a]), 24 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.”
The Israelite’s and their religious leaders had been praying for years for the Lord to send them a Savior. The problem was they had expectations of how the Lord would accomplish this goal. Have you ever placed expectations on anyone, including God? What happened when things did not go as you had “expected”? Generally, the attitude is terrible, and a feeling of disappointment abides . The answer to their prayers had already been fulfilled. The expectation was a grand ruler, with great force. The reality was a baby, in a lowly manager.
When they brought Jesus into the temple to be presented to the Lord there was no grand parade, actually right the opposite. Mary and Joseph would have been required to bring a sin offering and a burnt offering to sacrifice in the temple. Normally, the sacrifice would include a lamb, and a pigeon, however in Leviticus twelve it gives another option for those who could not afford a lamb.
8 But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a
burnt offering and the other for a sin offering.
So don’t miss this part of the story. Mary (the mother of Jesus) walks into the temple with a pair of turtledoves. She did not have enough money for a lamb. Immediately, people would have looked at Mary and Joseph with their turtledoves and acknowledged they were poor. They surely would have felt a sense of condemnation and judgement for not living up to the standard of others in the temple. Just a small side note. How many people are written off daily because the person does not think, look, or act a certain way? Hmmmmm...........
What the people missed about Mary and Joseph was that although they did not have “a lamb”, they had THE lamb! The Lamb of God was in the temple, as the answered prayer, and those around them did not even know it. As I write these words, in my mind I envision priest-offering sacrifices, the Pharisees reading over the law, people making donations of money, and the list goes on and on. Because they were so busy with activities in the temple, they were missing the point “of the Temple”- the Lord! The Lord was right in front of them, the Savior, the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, but they didn’t even see Him. Because they put expectations on the Lord, it blinded them to all the possibilities of how God could work. Today the answer to your prayer might be sitting right in front of you, but you don’t even know it because you are refusing to receive it, the way God delivered it!! It makes me cringe to think of how many times I have missed God in my own life because I would not accept the way the Lord chose to answer it.
Priscilla Shirer told a story about a lady in Africa. They lady said, “we here in Africa pray for you in America.” Priscilla curiously asked, “Why? As she sat in a small hut with a mud floor.” She said “Americans try to buy their lamb with all their stuff, we don’t have any stuff, so The Lamb is all we’ve got. He is enough.” If there were ever a time to drop the mic, it would have been after these words!! It drives my heart to repentance for desiring things that could never bring real joy and contentment, and not allowing God to be enough!
God only acknowledges two people in a large crowd, that recognizes Jesus, Simeon and Anna.
25 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. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
36There was also a prophetess named Anna, who was well along in years. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming forward at that moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the Child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Notice that the scripture said the Holy Spirit was upon him. I believe when we are saved we have the Holy Spirit in us, but I also believe when we are feverishly seeking Him, He also rest a special portion of favor upon us. Christina Caine stated, "A gifted speaker/pastor can stir up emotions in a room full of people, but lack power to break sin. The anointed can speak, and chains of bondage are broken in the name of Jesus. What we need are more who are anointed, not gifted." Simeon was a priest who was expecting the Lord. He was always looking for the Lord to show up to save His people. Simeon did not put expectations on how the Lord would show up, only that He would! Because of His willingness to accept the Lord at His word he was blessed to recognize the Savior. Also, Anna was able to recognize Jesus as the redeemer. Now some of you may want to hold onto your seats because Anna was a woman, and a prophetess. She had duties in the temple, and she prophesied when she saw Jesus. Because she earnestly sought the Lord in the temple, the Lord opened her eyes to see. This is a great reminder that the Lord can speak and allow insight through anyone he chooses, no matter the shape, size, color, or gender.
Please don't miss the main point that all these people were in "church", but missed the Lord. May we not be guilty of playing church, but rather God would faithfully find us being the church!
As the journey begins for the next forty-days I am asking the Lord to open my eyes like never before. Maybe your prayer could be like mine, “Lord I am so sorry for all the times I missed your work in my life. I ask that as I intentionally walk closer with you these forty-days, you would open my spiritual eyes in ways I could never imagine. Lord that you would allow me to see where you are working in all areas of my life, and get on board with you. Lord help me to be like Simeon and Anna, that I may seek you morning and night, always expecting you to show up in my day.