Setting

Just as the birth narrative began in the temple, it now concludes in the temple. The events that took place and the words spoken about the child Jesus clearly point out that He is the Savior whom Israel had been waiting for. The passages we have studied thus far are mostly unique to Luke. In a way that is characteristic of Luke, the stories carefully depict the individuals who played a part in the narratives, including their character, words, feelings, and interactions.

Key Verse

(2:30-32)

Did You Know...?

1. Days of her purification (2:22): According to Jewish law a woman became ceremonially unclean on the birth of a child. On the eighth day the child was circumcised (cf. 1:59; Gen 17:12), after which the mother was unclean an additional thirty-three days—sixty-six if the child was female (Lev 12:1-5). [ref]
2. The hymn of Simeon (2:29-32) is known as Nunc Dimittis, from the first words of the Latin version, meaning “Now dismiss.”
3. Feast of Passover (2:41): The law commanded that all adult males should attend the three major annual feasts in Jerusalem—Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Doing so was not possible for many because of the distance, but most tried to attend the Passover.
4. Twelve years old (2:42): With puberty, a boy became a “son of the covenant.” [ref] At age 12 boys began preparing to take their places in the religious community the following year. [ref]

Outline

  • Presentation in the Temple
    (2:21-39)
  • Circumcision and naming
    (2:21)
  • Presentation
    (2:22-24)
  • Simeon’s praise, blessing, and prediction
    (2:25-35)
  • Anna’s praise and proclamation
    (2:36-38)
  • Returning to Nazareth
    (2:40)
  • The Maturing Years of Jesus
    (2:40-52)

Segment Analysis

  • 2:21-39

    1.

    What does verse 24 imply about the financial status of Joseph and Mary (cf. Lev 12:7-8)?

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  • 2.

    How is the narrative of the presentation of Jesus significant?

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    Not only does it show that Jesus came from the devout Jewish family that conformed to the law of the Lord, it also convinces the reader that Jesus was the Messiah Israel had been expecting. His consecration to the Lord served to also reveal His identity to the devout worshippers at the temple.

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  • 3.

    Describe Simeon and his role in the narrative.

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  • 4.

    What do Simeon’s words in 31 and 32 tell us about the gospel?

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    Simeon’s words emphasized the universal nature of the gospel. As prophesied in the OT, all nations will see the salvation of the Lord (Isa 52:10; Ps 98:3). While the light of the gospel brings revelation to the Gentiles, it also means glory for Israel because the Savior has come out of Israel in keeping with God’s covenant with His people (cf. Jn 4:22).

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  • 5.

    Explain Simeon’s words to Mary (34-35).

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    To the believers, Jesus is the cornerstone; but to the unbelievers, He has become the stumbling block (1Pet 2:6-8). “The thoughts of many hearts will be revealed” because a person’s decision to accept or reject Christ will reveal whether he is a true worshiper of God (Lk 10:16). Just as Jonah was a sign to his generation, Jesus will be a sign that will condemn the unbelieving generation (Mt 12:38-42).
    Jesus will be a sign which will be spoken against, and He will eventually suffer at the hands of the ungodly. Mary would see her son mocked, ridiculed, and crucified (Jn 19:25-27). The pain that Mary would suffer as a mother would be as if a sword was piercing her own soul as well.

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  • 6.

    Describe Anna and her role in the narrative.

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  • 7.

    Why were Simeon and Anna an important part of the narrative?

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    Both Simeon and Anna were devout worshippers who had been waiting for the redemption of Israel. They were also prominent figures in the community of Jerusalem. Their proclamations and predictions about Jesus confirmed that Jesus was indeed the Christ and prepared the hearts of the people (especially those who looked for redemption; see verse 38) to accept the Lord’s salvation.

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  • 2:40-51

    8.

    Based on the descriptions of Jesus’ growth (40 and 52), what characterize a sound and well-rounded growth?

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    A healthy growth should be both physical and spiritual. Just as Jesus became strong in spirit (referring to His wisdom and character), we should grow in our spiritual knowledge and character (cf. Phil 1:9-11). Jesus increased in favor with God and men. Likewise, we need to seek continual spiritual maturity, which is commendable by God and men (cf. Prov 3:1-4).

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  • 9.

    What significance does this story have?

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    The story not only displays Jesus’ unusual wisdom, it also reveals Jesus’ divine mission. At the age of twelve, Jesus was already acquainted with God’s law. His longing for the things of God is seen in His lingering behind in the temple and His earnest discussion with the teachers. Even at this early stage of His life, Jesus was keenly aware of God’s purpose for His life.

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  • 10.

    What did Jesus mean when He said, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”?

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    Not yet being fully aware of Jesus’ identity and mission, Joseph and Mary were amazed at what Jesus was doing, and Mary spoke to Jesus with great concern and even a tone of rebuke. Jesus’ response suggested that He belonged to the house of God rather than the guardianship of His parents. The word “must” conveys a strong sense of purpose that is prominent in Luke. Jesus came for the purpose of accomplishing the salvation of God, and so His loyalty to the Father’s business must take priority over His family ties.

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  • 11.

    How can we imitate the Lord Jesus and “be about my Father’s business” (also translated as “in my Father’s house”)?

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    We must understand our identity as children of the Lord and live with a sense of mission and purpose. We live in this world for our Father’s business—to proclaim the message of salvation and live according to God’s command for His glory. With this goal in mind, we will center our hearts and lives on the things of God.

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  • 12.

    Jesus returned to Nazareth with His parents and was subject to them, even though He had told them that He must be about His Father’s business. What can we learn here about our responsibilities toward God and toward our family?

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    Although He was the Son of God, Jesus did not neglect His duties toward His parents. Although He had much greater authority and power than them, He honored them in accordance with God’s command. By the same token, our mission to serve God should not become an excuse for neglecting our duties in the family (cf. Mt 15:3-6). Whenever possible, we should faithfully fulfill our God-given roles and live responsible lives while carrying out the Lord’s work (cf. 1Tim 3:5).

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