Sunday, January 01, 2012

Luke 2:21-40 - The Presentation of Jesus

Presentation in the Temple (Philippe de Champaigne, 1648)
Luke begins his gospel in the Temple with an unbelieving priest, Zechariah, and he ends the birth narrative at the Temple with a believing man, woman, and the boy Jesus. Joseph and Mary are careful to keep the requirements of the Law. His circumcision was apparently in Bethlehem but for the purification they had to travel to the Temple in Jerusalem. There they are greeted by two remarkable individuals, both aged and devout, Simeon and Anna, who speak about the future of the child.

Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 2:21-40 to teach believers how the Presentation of Jesus is a call to consecration for his people, a call to the Glory of the Lord among the nations, and a call to worshiping intercession before the Lord of the nations.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about God’s call to us in the New Year.
Key Verse: Luke 2:31-32
Pray and Read:  Luke 2:21-40

Sermon Points: In this New Year we have a
1.   Call to Consecration to the Lord among His people (Luke 2:21-24)
2.   Call to Glory of the Lord among the nations (Luke 2:25-35)
3.   Call to Prayer before the Lord of the nations (Luke 2:36-40)

Exposition:   Note well,

a.   Luke 2:21-24 – the Mosaic Law required (Lev 12:3) that boys be circumcised at eight days of age. Just as with the birth of John, the baby receives the name Jesus at this time. The Law also required the redemption of the firstborn son 30 days after childbirth (Num 3:14) and a service of purification of the mother 40 days after childbirth (Lev 12:4-8). The ceremony of redeeming the firstborn son is a reminder of the redemption from slavery in Egypt at Passover (Exod 12:3-14, 21-28; 13:2-16) and of avoiding the last of the ten plagues (Exod 11:45; 12:29-30). Because of this, every Israelite family dedicates its firstborn son to God’s service but then redeems the boy for a payment of five sanctuary shekels (Numbers 18:16). In return, God accepts instead the Levites, the sons of Levi, for service in the Temple (Numbers 3:12-13, 45; 8:14-19). Since there is no mention of Mary “redeeming” their son with five shekels, then he was probably dedicated wholly to the Lord, after the model of the child Samuel (1 Sam 1-2). Note the echoes in Luke 2:22-23 to 1 Sam 1:24, 28 (cf. Luke 2:34, 40)
b.   The offering is of a lamb or a pair of turtledoves as a substitute (Exod 13:2, 12; Lev 12:6-8). This was Joseph’s offering, further evidence of their adverse poverty. Mary would lay hands on the pigeons, then a priest would take them to the southwest corner of the altar, wring one bird’s neck as a sin offering and burning the other as a whole burnt offering in a complete picture of the Messiah to come.
c.   APPLICATION: In this New Year, the Lord is calling you and me to a renewed commitment to walk in belief and do the things that He requires.
d.   One thing that keeps a church from growing as a body is that the Focus Is on Trying to Please Everyone. There is NO church on the planet that will make everyone happy every single week—and according to the Scriptures, that isn’t really supposed to be our obsession.  Too many times, we become so concerned with offending people that we actually offend Jesus.[1]
The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Presentation of Christ in the Temple (James Tissot)
a.   This encounter with Simeon happened no doubt in the Court of Women. Simeon’s prayer, must more than Zechariah’s prophecy, marks a transition from the OT era to the NT.

b.   SIMEON (meaning "One who hears and obeys"). All we know of Simeon is what Luke tells us. Simeon is
             i.        Clean (righteous) before God B holiness (Luke 2:25)
            ii.        Expecting the Promises of God (Luke 2:25). His heart is set upon the Messianic promises of God
          iii.        In the Presence of God (Luke 2:25). The Holy Spirit was upon him.
          iv.        Heard God speak (Luke 2:26) and knew he would live to see the Messiah. He realizes this baby is He.
           v.        Submitted to the Spirit of God (Luke 2:27)
          vi.        Man of the Word, of prayer and a worshiper (Luke 2:29-32). Simeon likens himself to a slave who has dutifully scanned the horizon for the long-awaited visitor. Now he reports to his master that he has fulfilled his trust. Now he claims the privilege of going off duty.

c.   Luke 2:29-32 – These words are known as the Nunc Dimittis (like Mary’s Magnificat and Zechariah’s Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79). This song, like Mary’s and Zechariah’s, is full of OT associations. The comfort of Israel is the main subject of the last section of Isaiah beginning with Isaiah 40 to which Simeon makes a number of allusions. That comfort was to come only through the Messiah (Isaiah 40:1, 49:13; 51:3; 52:9; 66:13). Simeon draws heavily on the OT for its style and subject matter. Verses 30-31 are closely tied to Isaiah 40:5; 52:10. In verse 30, the Heb. Yeshuah renders in Greek (soterion) as salvation, but there is a definite wordplay here on the name of the Messiah.
             i.        Force of Simeon's Worship: Toward the Nations (Luke 2:32). “A light to the Goyim. Compare Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; 51:4. And for glory for your people Israel (cf. Isaiah 46:13).
            ii.        Symbol of a Watchman for the Nations: Shades of Isaiah 49:6
d.   Luke 2:34-35 - Simeon then turns to Mary telling her of the great honor she has of raising this son will include suffering also. Simeon says this baby will cause the rising and falling of many (see Isaiah 8:14-15; 28:16), an expression used in the early church (1 Peter 2:6-8). It was a warning that he was a sign that would be spoken against (Isaiah 8:18; Luke 11:29-30), something she already knew, of a sword piercing her heart (cf. Psalm 37:15; Ezek 14:17) and an indication of the way by which salvation would be accomplished.

e.   APPLICATION: When a church chooses to focus only on itself and not on taking the message of Christ to the nations, that is called disobedience to the Scriptures. Need examples? Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:48, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, 2 Cor 5:16-21, Luke 19:10 … I could go on and on…but we MUST understand that Jesus didn’t come to Earth, live here for 33 years, give HIS life for us, and then return back to heaven to intercede for us so that we could get in little circles and talk about ourselves and condemn those who are not as good as us.  We are called to REACH PEOPLE FOR GOD—PERIOD![2]

a.   Anna : the NT form of the OT Hannah (1 Sam 1:2). She is in a category of prophetesses like Miriam (Exod 15:20), Deborah (Judg. 4:4), and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14).
b.   Look at the characteristics of Anna: She is a woman of prophetic worship and intercession. She is an example of a worshiping intercessor
             i.        In the Presence AShe never left the Temple (Luke 2:37)
            ii.        Of Asher, a Alost tribe@ (Luke 2:36) which vanished after the conquest of the northern Ten Tribes in 722 B.C.
          iii.        Worshiped, prayed, fasted (Luke 2:37)
          iv.        Full of Thanksgiving (Luke 2:38)
           v.        Full of Evangelism (Luke 2:38)
          vi.        Anna knew the Promises. She was waiting for Jerusalem to be redeemed or liberated (Luke 2:25; 1:68). Compare Isaiah 52:9.
c.   This entire passage (Luke 2:25-40) shows the interrelationship of intercessory worship and a vision for the nations. Luke wants it clear to his largely Gentile audience that Christ came for all the Nations, not only Jews.  Remember that Luke also wrote Acts 1:8!
d.   Luke 2:39-40 – Like the description of John in Luke 1:80, it echoes the description of Samuel in 1 Sam 2:21, 26; and Luke 2:52. The reference to wisdom (Luke 2:40) is related to Isaiah 11:2.
e.   APPLICATION: Many times, we work so hard putting our ideas together that we actually think there is no need for the supernatural power of God to be involved.  Prayer should not be the good luck charm that we stick at the beginning or the end of what we do…but rather it should be our constant desperation to see God do the undeniable among us.  Intense desperation often brings undeniable revelation![3]
f.    In this New Year, the Lord is calling our church to a greater measure of worship and intercession before the Lord of the nations. To be in the place of prayer more individually, with friends, in small groups, corporately as a church, for our nation and the nations.

[1] Perry Noble, “Eight Reasons Why Some Churches Never Grow,”
[2] Perry Noble, “Eight Reasons Why Some Churches Never Grow,”
[3] Perry Noble, “Eight Reasons Why Some Churches Never Grow,”