News & Events

The Institute of Lutheran theology not only provides programs to train pastors and teachers, but it also provides educational and devotional resources for individuals and congregations. These resources are provided free of charge and made available through our web page. Please subscribe to and use any of these resources.

The First Sunday after Christmas, December 31, 2023

Download Printable

The First Sunday after Christmas, December 31, 2023

Behold!  An incongruity presents itself in verses 33-35.  Initially, Jesus’ father and mother marvel at Simeon’s lifting up of their son.  Simeon equates Jesus with the salvation God has prepared in the presence of all peoples (vs. 29-30).  When Simeon completes his blessing of God, he turns to Joseph and Mary and gives them a blessing (vs. 34).  The words that follow, though, hardly seem like a blessing; they don’t necessarily convey a positive future.

Mary and Joseph’s son, Jesus is destined for the rising and falling of many (vs 34).  Rising and falling, a prophecy of social upheaval and the loss or gain of status, sounds only vaguely positive, at best.  “A sign that is opposed” definitely prophecies the persecution and antagonism directed against Jesus as he takes up his ministry.  The religious elite oppose him all the way to the cross.  And there… there is the sword that will pierce Mary’s own soul as well.  Jesus’ ignoble, shameful, and humiliating end hardly seems appropriate for the salvation prepared by God.  It is an end that Mother Mary may well have traded away all of Simeon’s accolades to avoid.  The glory of God’s people Israel went to the cross.  There in the humiliation of crucifixion, the glory of Israel was revealed.  Israel had a savior who would die for them… die at their hands… die because sinners wanted him dead… die so God’s people would have revealed to them the depths of sin forgiven by their God.

These future events intrude upon the sentimentality of Christmas and its extended twelve days of celebration.  The events intrude because the sword that pierces Mary’s soul also pierces your soul… because the thoughts of your heart, sinful beyond comprehension, are revealed… because Jesus, the child, the infant that nursed on Mary’s lap, suffers and dies for you… you with the blood-stained hands still clutching hammer and surplus nails… Jesus, the Son of God, dies so that you will know that there is no sin… THERE IS NO SIN… which will separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Ro. 8:39).

Table Talk:  Discuss your understanding of the incongruities of vs. 33-35.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, so deliver unto me the forgiveness of my sin that my heart, too, is pierced and its contents revealed.  Amen

Luke 2:(22–32) 33–40

(22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,

according to your word;

30 for my eyes have seen your salvation

31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory to your people Israel.)

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.


Looking for an exhilarating online casino experience in Zambia? Your search ends here with Bwin Zambia!