Jesus' Presentation in the Temple
(Luke 2:21-40)

Father God we rejoice in you this lovely day that you have so graciously given to us. We worship you and give you praise. We thank you most of all for sending your son to us, to bring us salvation. We are grateful also for the Word you have given us, to speak to us of our savior and to teach us how to live. Holy Spirit we invite you to be our teacher tonight, and to bring all things to our remembrance.

satan we bind you and rebuke you and cast you out of this holy place in Jesus Name. We come against any plans you may have to disrupt the study and block them in Jesus Name AMEN

Father help us to understand how much Jesus gave up to give us our joy. AMEN Thank You Lord for your bounty, Your love and Your grace

Last time we were talking about the birth of Jesus and how the angels had told the shepherds to go find the baby. We talked about how the shepherds were lowly and despised of men, but they were the ones that God chose to tell of the birth of the Good Shepherd. When the angels told the shepherds where to find Jesus, they HURRIED and SEARCHED until they found the baby.

Now we are going to look at what happened when the shepherds left. The next verses tell how Mary and Joseph obeyed God's Law after Jesus was born. In order for Jesus to do His work as Savior, it was also necessary for Him to become identified with the covenants and promises given to Israel. LAW is mentioned 5 times in this chapter, more than the rest of Luke to emphasize the fact that Jesus was born under the Law.

Paul said that Galatians 4:4-5 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

In order for Jesus to fulfill what He came to do, He had to obey the law perfectly. Now some of the teachers, etc., of His day didn't think He did fulfill the Law, because He didn't keep THEIR rules, but God was satisfied that He did. The first thing Mary and Joseph did was to have Jesus circumcised.

Luke 2:21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

According to the Law in Leviticus 12:3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. So Mary and Joseph did that.

Circumcision is a sign that a boy is a son of Abraham, and heir to all the promises that God gave Abraham, a son of Promise. "It was customary at this time to give him a name: and so Mary and Joseph officially gave the baby the name God had already given Him -- Jesus, meaning "Savior" We talked about the Greek word for savior is soter - and salvation includes not only forgiveness of sins and eternal life, but health and healing for the body, and deliverance from the enemy. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew Jehoshua (Yeshua, Joshua) Lord- meaning Lord-Savior or 'God who is salvation' So they were obedient to the Law and to the message of God sent by Gabriel.

Luke 2:22-24 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), 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."

Now after a mother gave birth, she was considered ritually "unclean" for 40 days. This was a time of purification, and when this period was over, Mary had to give a sacrifice. The pair of doves was Mary's sacrifice for her purification, according to Leviticus 12:8 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. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.

So Mary and Joseph were obedient to the Law in offering that sacrifice. Mary's sacrifice was the smallest permitted that of a poor person, and that is why most scholars believe that Mary and Joseph were poor. Mary and Joseph also came to the temple to "present Him [Jesus]" Every firstborn belonged to God; he had to be either ransomed with a fee or offered to God.

Samuel, if you recall, was offered back to God and literally was given to the temple after he was weaned.

His mother said 1 Samuel 1:11 And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head."

1 Samuel 1:22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, "After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always." Then at the appointed time, Hannah gave him up to the Lord:1 Samuel 1:28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there.

There seems to be some disagreement among the experts as to whether Jesus was offered to God or redeemed. The text does NOT say that the redemption price of 5 shekels was offered:

According to Numbers 3:44-47 The LORD also said to Moses, "Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. The Levites are to be mine. I am the LORD. To redeem the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of the Levites, collect five shekels for each one, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs [about 2 ounces].

Luke was writing to the Gentiles remember, and took great care to include details about the unfamiliar Jewish rituals. He also most likely interviewed Mary in writing his book, so if he doesn't mentioned the 5 shekel (about $2.50) redemption price, then Jesus was probably actually offered to God. Jesus, then, was evidently offered to become holy - set apart for God's service. That Jesus was offered to God and not redeemed would explain Jesus' attitude later when he was with the teachers in the temple. At any rate, the important point is that Jesus was born under the Law and Mary and Joseph followed all the necessary rituals.

Luke 2:25 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 upon him.

Simeon is only mentioned here in Luke. An aged man, whose name means "hearing", was just, righteous with God and man, and devout, conscientious in all matters of worship and religion. There is no indication that he was a priest or had any official duties in the Temple Apparently he was a pious Jew who frequently came to the temple to pray. And he came not only to pray, but also to listen, as his name implies.

Because he really believed God's promises, he waited with expectation for the consolation of Israel. That is, for the coming of the Messiah. The Consoler or Comforter was a title used for the Messiah in those days.

Luke 2:26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

You know what happens when you come into God's presence with faith and a listening attitude? You hear from God! The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would live until he actually saw the Messiah! Remember it had been 400 years since the last prophet had spoken, and around 2000 years since the Promise was give to Abraham.

There is a type of knowledge that can only come from God - revelation knowledge. This wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit and speaks directly to our spirit. You can't learn it from books, it is a word spoken to you from above.

James 1: 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Do you have a problem you can't solve? Ask God! He'll give you the answer and not make fun of you for asking. Do you financial woes, health concerns, relationship conflicts? Ask God! He has the answer for you, and He won't browbeat you for getting in a jam AGAIN! And God's wisdom is always just right!

James 3: 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

You know a lot of times when we ask the world for wisdom, it's got a lot of junk attached to it. But God's wisdom is pure - you can rely wholly upon it! God's wisdom always brings peacefulness - you don't have to fret and stress out if you're following God's instructions. God doesn't put anybody down, His love is not rude and oppressive. If we wait on His wisdom, which He gives in His timing, it will always produce good fruit.

And Simeon knew this, and waited upon the Lord's timing. Lord let me be a "Simeon", let me be a hearer of your Word Lord! Now the only way that Simeon could have received this wisdom was from God through the Holy Spirit. The Bible doesn't tell us how many years that he had waited patiently for God's promise to come true. But one day he was moved by the Spirit to go to the temple courts. His promise had come true!

Sometimes we have to wait a while for the promises God has given us to come true. If you've asked him to save your loved ones, don't give up, the harvest is coming. If you have needs in your life, don't accept the "second best" that the enemy will try to trick you with, be patient and trust in God, and He will bring the very best.

Jackie - Never give up press on

Abram - Did Simeon know that Jesus would come, from the Holy Spirit, or did God tell him that?

aquarius - I pray for 3 years for something and god finally gave it to me

Praise the Lord AQ! God told Simeon through the Holy Spirit that Jesus would come. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Messiah.

Luke 2:27-29 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace."

Like I said, we don't know how many years Simeon waited, he must have been very old. But one day he was "moved by the Spirit" to go into the temple. Are you close enough to God that He can get you to move when the Holy Spirit tells you too? Think what a blessing Simeon would have missed if he had hesitated.

casper - he took the bread of life in his hands

Learning to hear the voice of God, to be sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit, to receive revelation knowledge from God, takes practice. The more you pray and get into the Word, the more you will learn how to discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit and obey them.

The Simeon reached out and took baby Jesus in his arms and praised God. How did Simeon know this was the right baby? Mary and Joseph looked no different than any other poor couple, coming to the temple to give their offerings. The Holy Spirit revealed it to him. Then he said, "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace."

The Greek word for Lord here is an unusual one, despota, despot in English, in the sense of a master, one who has a bondservant. Since God had fulfilled His promise concerning the Messiah, Simeon was ready to depart (be set free, as a "master" would set free his bond servant) in peace (with a sense of well-being).

To be able to take the Savior into your hands and Know that He is your wonderful that would be! Simeon was the first on record to have seen and handled the Word of Life. As John witnessed in I John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

Luke 2:30 "For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

The fulfillment of God's promise was salvation, available to all, a light for a revelation to the Gentiles and glory for Israel. Historians tell us that Israel's expectations of Messiah were at a fever pitch. Every woman prayed to bear the Messiah. The Jews longed for someone to deliver them from bondage to Rome.

But if they knew about the prophecies that Messiah would be a light to the

Gentiles, they ignored them. They wanted to smash the Gentiles not enlighten them.

Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Jesus was born, was given to us, Jews and Gentiles alike, to be our wonderful counselor, mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace! Hallelujah.

Isaiah 42:6 "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles."

This is what Simeon saw through the eyes of faith - not only was this child the Messiah of Israel, but a light to the Gentiles, Savior of the world.

Isaiah 52:10 The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.

Luke 2:33 The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.

Why do you think Mary and Joseph marveled at Simeon's words?

casper - because they recognize it was coming from the holy spirit

OlePappy - "because they were amazed at how far reaching the power of God and the Holy Spirit was enlightening people about Jesus"

Jackie - first time they heard the starling prophecy that Jesus significance will extend even to the gentiles

It would seem that all that had happened so far would have been more wonderful to them. However, the Jews of this day were very exclusive, being certain that God's special blessings were reserved for them alone. But Simeon, being led by the Holy Spirit, made it very clear that God would offer salvation to the Gentiles through their Son.

This first announcement by a Jewish prophet (in 400 years) proclaims Jesus to be a "light to the Gentiles". Human prejudices are such that it took a divine rebuke for the apostles to concede this point (Acts 10:18; 11:8). It was over this that controversies raged in the early church (Acts 15, Galatians 2). This was a wonderful, but difficult thing for the Jews to realize. Some today still don't.

Luke 2:34-35 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

I wish we'd get back into the habit of blessing one another today. A lot of cursing goes out day and night, but how much blessing? Blessing is the invocation of God's favor upon a person. Blessing is wishing them well, wanting the very best for them. Simeon blessed them - Mary and Joseph and Jesus and then gave a prophecy over them.

Notice that he spoke to Mary. Many believe that Joseph died before Jesus was thirty and Jesus had to take care of the household as the oldest son because Joseph is not mentioned again after the infancy narratives.

"This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel" - Christ raises up those who believe in Him, but is a stumbling block to those who don't. "And to be a sign that will be spoken against" - Jesus would be a supernatural sign (semeion, John 2:11 -a sign or token by which something is known; a confirmation of a divine work or call, also translated in KJV as miracle) "spoken against" (disputed, debated; opposed refused). "So that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed" - When Jesus taught, he taught truth. Many who pretended to be holy were revealed to be hypocrites. Many who were thought to be sinners were found to be repentant. The Word reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart.

"And a sword will pierce your own soul too" - this is the first indication that Mary would suffer because of the calling of the Son. Remember she had to watch Him slowly and horribly die on the cross - I can't think of a worse piercing than that.

Luke 2:36-37 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four [or for 84 years]. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.

Now here is another "every day" person who was faithful to the Lord and who worshipped in the temple day and night. Anna, meaning "grace", now comes up at the very moment that Simeon was blessing Mary. She was a prophetess, a speaker for God, moved by the Holy Spirit. She was from 84 to 100 years old and had spent most of her life in the temple, in the Lord's service in fasting and prayer.

We often overlook elderly saints such as Anna and Simeon; but their ministries in God's sight are of exceedingly great value. They were privileged to be the first prophets to PUBLICALLY announce the birth of Messiah. Before this; there seems to have been no major prophets for a period of 400 years. Anna was from the tribe of Asher; meaning "happy" - an otherwise insignificant tribe who produced no deliverer for Israel, and never did conquer much of its inheritance in Canaan.

Luke 2:38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Notice that the Holy Spirit moved upon an ordinary man and woman to announce the birth of the Messiah. She not only gave thanks to God, but also began to immediately testify to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. "Her testimony, added to that of Simeon, must have made a double impact on her hearers. Perhaps she continued her prophetic testimony for some time after Joseph and Mary had left the temple with Jesus." What a day for Mary and Joseph! They started out by obeying God's commandments, and ended up with those two prophetic acclamations about Jesus!

Luke 2:39-40 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

We are told that Mary treasured these things in her heart and pondered upon them. But then life settled into a rather ordinary routine. In v. 39 Luke summarizes some of Jesus' life; leaving out a period of about two years; including the visit of the magi (Matthew 2:1-12) in Bethlehem, the death of the innocents (Matthew 2:16-18), the flight to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15) where they stayed until Herod's death in 4 B. C, and the return to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23).

The only information about the childhood years of Jesus is to be found in the next section of Luke's gospel. There are some fanciful accounts of Jesus childhood told in legends and such, but we know that this was a large family who knew poverty and sacrifice and the weariness of common toil.

"God could have sent His Son full grown into the world, but He chose rather to send Him as a helpless Babe to attain a perfect manhood through all the natural stages of human growth - physical, mental; social, and spiritual." Nazareth was a little, secluded town; though not entirely cut off from the world. It is not specifically mentioned in Old Testament prophecy: perhaps God was guaranteeing that no one would recognize Him before the appointed time. Also, it was a fine place to have a normal childhood.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth: Hebrew Netseret probably derived from netser, branch; shoot; sprout. As a Nazarene; Hebrew Netseri, Jesus would be identified with the Old Testament prophecies; which speak of Messiah as a branch; a new shoot from the old stump that was all that was left of the once-glorious family tree of David.

However, the Jews at the time of Jesus birth didn't expect the Messiah to be a Nazarene, it was only later that it was realized that this too was a fulfillment of prophecy.

Isaiah 4:2 In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.

Isaiah 53:2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

Jeremiah 23:5 "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.

Hallelujah! It seemed that the line of David was a withered branch that could no longer produce fruit. But a tender shoot shot out the day that Jesus was born, a righteous mighty BRANCH that now is our soon coming King! But at this time, Nazareth was just a dusty little town of little importance to the world. And Jesus had an ordinary boyhood in the hills of Judea. A country boy, if you will! Why do you think that God wanted His Son to have an ordinary normal childhood?

Z - so that He could grow, learn, experience the things of a "common" person

Athie - Jesus needed to be just like every day people to know their feelings

Hebrews 2:14-15 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

He had to share in our humanity so that by his death he would DESTROY the devil and the power of death and SET US FREE! Glory!

Hebrews 4:14-16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Jesus shared our humanity so He would be able to sympathize with our weaknesses, and function as our high priest. He is also an example to us - He was tempted like we are, yet without sin!

Whatever pain or disappointment or frustration you feel, Jesus can sympathize! He knows the limitations of our bodies, He knows how hard it is to have to work to earn a living. He knows how the tempter tries to trip us up! He KNOWS.

And He is our high Priest! He intercedes for us to God. His blood covers our sin. He gives us strength and hope and love. He has "walked a mile in our moccasins" as the old saying goes.

casper - the WORD MADE FLESH

Cowgirl - OT kinda like us we have compassion for people that r walking where we've been right?

Z - Thank You Jesus for Your Awesome Love and sacrifice for us!

Now God knows us inside and out and identifies with our suffering. But it is REAL to us because He has come down and actually walked and talked with us.

"And the child grew and became strong" - Here was the physical march to adulthood. The phrase indicates that He gained knowledge, as all children do by observation questions, and instructions. He was filled with wisdom - this is the gradual day-by-day filling of wisdom - the learning of the Word and knowing God as Creator and Lord.

The Jews were (and most still are) very meticulous in teaching their children the Word of God. They take very seriously the commandment to constantly be telling their children about God. They teach it at home, and also, even then, had special schools for the boys where the rabbis (teachers) thoroughly explained the Law to them.

Cowgirl - yes we need to be continually filled, because we leak - just like filling a cup it would evaporate so we have to drink more.....

As the prophet Isaiah said, Isaiah 50:4 The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.

casper - at what age did he know he was the son of god

Casper - good ? and it has been debated for centuries. Certainly by the time He was baptized by John and began His ministry. Perhaps as early as age 12 as we will study next time. From His earliest years He took His place in the worship and training provided in the local synagogue. At an early age He would also begin to help Joseph in the carpenter shop, making doors and window fittings, furniture, bowls, boxes, plows, yokes, carts, and other wooden articles.

Cowgirl - So does it state that in the bible anywhere? What casper asked.

There isn't anywhere in the Bible that says, at such and such a time Jesus realized He was the Son of God. Some believe that He knew it from birth (this is called a high Christology) and was supernaturally spiritual all of His life. Others believe it was gradually revealed to Him as He grew up (low Christology). The important thing to me is that by the time He was old enough to start His ministry He KNEW beyond a shadow of doubt WHO He was and WHAT He was here for. And He was willing to give His life as atonement for sin, yours and mine!

I'm sure Mary told Him many times, Casper. But at what age did He really understand what it meant? In other words, how much of His pre-incarnate knowledge did He retain? We just don't know. That is one thing I want to ask when I meet Him face to face.

Philippians 4:5b-6 "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but make himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."

I believe He was sinless. But I also believe that Jesus learned about God like we do - through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, the Word, and through the things God created.

casper - Jesus said I only do what the father tells me to do

This is a good place to stop. God sent His Son to earth, birthed in a humble stable, a feeding trough for a cradle, born under the Law and raised faithfully under the Law - an ordinary, normal childhood for that day and time.

Father thank you for Your Word that has gone out tonight. May it bless the hearers and give them much fruit in their lives. May they ponder over the wonder of your gift to us - Jesus Christ - and give glory to your name. AMEN

Original Lesson 7/13/98

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned!
And put it into practice!

Return to Luke Homepage

*Picture Sources:

Unger, Merrill F. The New Unger's Bible Handbook. Revised by Gary N Larson. Moody Press, Chicago, 1966: 1984.

The Family Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. by Pat Alexander.  Chancelor Press, London, 1988.

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Original Lesson 7/13/98
Revised: May 02, 2001.