Updated: March 9, 2022
by Louis Templeman
Luke 2: 25, “Simeon . . . came in the Spirit . . . when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law . . . The child’s mother and father were amazed at what was said about him and Simeon blessed them . . . .”
Could Joseph have felt any greater anonymity than he did at the Temple that day? There was no feast to swell Jerusalem’s walls, but there was a census the entire population of the Roman Empire was responding to.
Jerusalem may have been very crowded. Accidental pilgrims, taking advantage of their trip to Jerusalem or surrounding areas, were visiting the Temple and ancient sites, holy to Jews. Looking very ordinary and feeling rather common Joseph purchased the economy priced sacrificial animals and took his wife and son to the Temple.
Even though Joseph knew (through his own dreams, Mary’s testimony and the strange story of the shepherds) he had something very special in Mary and Jesus he still was swallowed up in the goings-on in the Ancient city. Its history and tradition radiated a past and promised a future that dimmed the mundane lives of visitors.
Perhaps, he thought; no, he knew somewhere deep inside that his son and perhaps even his wife would join the luminaries that shone forth in the celestial backdrop of Israel’s amazing history. Still, as he walked through the Temple and city recently rebuilt by King Herod, one of history’s most successful city-builders, his own sense of personal significance must have been overwhelmed.
It is an all too human condition that allows the daily drudge of life to shadow over and lessen the impact of God’s words and acts in our lives. Joseph was participating in a walking miracle. Did he feel it at that moment as he entered the Temple with hundreds of other seekers?
Joseph heard the words of Simeon; saw the delight in Anna’s eyes. Soon after he heard of the reputations of this prophet and prophetess. They were out of character in their prophetic action and words that day. They quit preaching, “He is coming.” Now they proclaimed, “He is here!”
Even in all the excitement Joseph understood the gravity of the prophet’s words. His son would face a tough road and his wife would experience injury and sorrow in her care and support of him. The Scripture says, “The child’s mother and father were amazed at what was said about him and Simeon blessed them . . .”
Joseph took his little family back to Bethlehem. The last several months gave him a good deal to consider:
- Fears of immorality versus the angelic claim of virgin conception and birth.
- Reception of May at the angel’s bidding.
- An unplanned, government initiated trip the Bethlehem.
- A chilly reception in Bethlehem.
- The unpleasant experience of his wife giving birth in a barn.
- The strange ecstasy and surprise visit by shepherds.
- The public spectacle of offering a poor person’s sacrifice.
- The prophesies of Simeon and Anna.
In all this Joseph had been a helper, a supporter and stage hand in a divine play. He saw by prophesy all that lay in store for Jesus and Mary and yet his name was unmentioned. This was not his show. Yet, without him the show could not go on. Joseph embraced his secondary role while enabling the story to be told.