Jesus Presented in the Temple
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”), 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.”
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. 27 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, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 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, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 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.
Luke records in verses 22-23 the record of Mary & Joseph bringing Jesus to be consecrated to the Lord at the temple. As an Israelite Mary was required to make atonement for her uncleanness (because of childbirth) and to offer a sacrifice for her atonement to be made ceremonially clean. As was part of the Law, Mary was required to bring a lamb and a pigeon, but if you could not afford the lamb then you could bring 2 doves or 2 pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. We understand from the text that Mary & Joseph did not have much and so they brought what they could afford. This is a reminder to us in passing that Jesus’ parents wished to obey the laws of God and therefore be considered righteous before Him.
As the family is going thru the temple they are approached by Simeon, who Luke records as righteous and devout. The greek words here imply that he earnestly and carefully sought to follow all the laws of God. We understand from the text that the reason he was at the temple was because the Holy Spirit was ‘on him‘ and led him there to be assured of the message he had received from Him. Prior to Christ’s ascension the record of the Holy Spirit is shown as being ‘on’ or ‘with’ people. He was not ‘in’ them like we experience today. The Spirit’s purposes before the day of Pentecost in Acts was to specifically be ‘on’ a person and move them to a place (or have them speak a thing) that would glorify God in some way. We still see that role played out today but on a much grander scale. Now the Spirit lives in us, and all that we do is subject to Him guiding and leading us for God’s glory.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. – Romans 8
Simeon takes the child (who would have been almost 6 weeks old) and praises God while still in the Spirit. As he was promised, Simeon is witness to the child who is Messiah (he could not have known this apart from being in the Spirit, as there was no indicator besides God telling this to him). He openly prays and thanks God for His fulfilment of promises made long ago. Simeon calls God sovereign – no doubt because God has brought all things to this point, in front of all who came before and who are currently witness that it is God’s work to bring about salvation. It is interesting that Simeon points out inside the temple, to the hearing of any who pass by, that this child will bring light to the Gentiles. Gentiles were considered dogs to the Jews, but a man led by the Spirit of God has no fear of speaking the truth.
Mary and Joseph marveled at what was said about their son. How often do we know a thing to be true (they were given revelation by angels) and yet we are in disbelief when we get glimpses of that truth. Then Simeon gives a solemn mention of things to come for Jesus and for Mary: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” As was said, Jesus would in fact reveal the hearts of all who came to Him as we will see in our future studies. Not only does Jesus confront all who come in contact with Him, but He also will confront His mother about where her heart lies. As a mother, I can understand that you expect to have the favor of your child, but Mary was no different than any other person to Christ. She had a soul – one that could be lost – and so she also had to come before the Lord, ask for forgiveness, and believe that He truly was the Christ.
In verses 36-40 we are introduced to another person inside the temple: Anna. She is called a prophetess, one to whom future events are revealed. Luke notes her origin, giving her a line of credit to the Israelites, and then describes the misfortune that she endured with the death of her husband early on in their marriage. This woman, who had experience tragedy, devoted her life to God as a widow instead of re-marrying. She is an example to all of the devotion of a heart committed to God – always in prayer and supplication, never leaving the temple. She speaks of the child, Jesus, and the redemption of Israel to all who pass by them (and because of her recognized status, she was probably joined by a crowd of witnesses and believers).