The Book of Luke, Psalm of Simeon and the Announcement of Anna, Part I - Lesson 17
Luke 2:21-40, And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 23(As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 24And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. 25And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 33And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 36And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 39And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 40And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
In verses 1-20 of Chapter Two, Luke has recorded the birth of the Lord Jesus and of the angelic announcement of Christ’s birth to the shepherds, who hurried to see the babe, wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a cattle feeding trough.
The rest of Luke, chapter two describes two important incidents in the early life of our Lord, both of which took place in the temple at Jerusalem, separated by twelve years.
Verses 21-40 focus on Simeon and Anna, who recognize the infant Jesus as Israel’s promised Messiah.
Simeon and Anna publicly praise God for this and proclaim this good news to those who are looking for the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people Israel.
The final segment of the chapter takes place twelve years later, when Jesus, went with His parents to Jerusalem, and then remained behind to be about His Father’s business in His Father’s house.
Three ceremonies take place in the passage of Luke 2 which we have just read.
When we read passages in the Bible we many times find that much is accomplished and much time may pass in just a few words.
Many events sometime seem to be one event but when upon a closer look need to be separated in our minds so that we may study them individually.
We need to rightly divide the word of truth even in passages like we have read so we can properly distinguish the three ceremonies mentioned by Luke.
The first ceremony is that of circumcision, referred to in verse 21.
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
This event probably took place where Mary and Joseph finally found a place to live in Bethlehem, and not at the temple because they did not go to Jerusalem until the days of her purification.
This mirrors what took place relative to John the Baptist.
And this circumcision took place in Bethlehem on the 8th day, as prescribed by God who directed Abraham (Gen. 17:9-14) and as prescribed by the law of Moses (Lev. 12:3).
Associated with the circumcision was the giving of the name of the child (cf. Luke 1:59-63; 2:21).
The presentation of the first-born son is the second ceremony recorded by Luke.
This, too, was a requirement of the Law, which Luke cites:
“As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb (firstborn) shall be called holy to the Lord;” (Luke 2:23; from Exodus 13:2, 12; cf. Num. 18:15-17).
Exodus 13:1-2, And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.
From the context of the passage in Exodus we know that during the final plague which God brought upon Egypt, all the first-born of Egypt were slain, both man and beast, while the first-born of the Israelites (that is, those who applied the blood of the Passover Lamb to their door posts and lintel) lived.
The redemption of the first-born was required because the first-born were spared by God and thus God declared that they belonged to Him.
When an Israelite family redeemed their first-born, they were acknowledging that this child belonged to God.
The redemption price for a first-born male Israelite a month or more old was set at five (sanctuary) shekels in Numbers 18:16.
Numbers 18:16,17 And those that are to be redeemed (ransomed) from a month old shalt thou redeem, according to thine estimation, for the money of five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs. But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou shalt not redeem; they are holy: thou shalt sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shalt burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet savour unto the LORD.
Apparently presentation of the first-born never occurred earlier than 31 days after birth.
This had much to do with the readiness of the mother to present the child to the Lord for her days of purification had to also pass.
The third ceremony was the purification of Mary, required by the Law after the birth of a child.
In Leviticus chapter 12 we are told that a woman is ceremonially unclean after the birth of a child.
For a male child the woman is unclean for seven days (12:2), and unable to enter the sanctuary for another 33 days (12:4).
For a female child the time doubles.
She is unclean for 14 days and unable to enter the sanctuary for 66 days (12:5).
This means that Jesus would have been approximately six weeks old at the time of his presentation at he temple in Jerusalem.
The sacrifice of the two turtledoves indicates that Mary and Joseph were poor people, as this was a provision for the poor (Lev. 12:6-8).
Lev 12:6-8, And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: 7Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. 8And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.
It is the second ceremony, the presentation of Jesus at the temple, which is most prominent in Luke’s account (Luke 2:27).
It is on this occasion that Simeon and Anna appear, to attest and announce that the baby Jesus is God’s Messiah, the Savior of the world.
We see verification in the passage that we read that the parents of the Lord Jesus Christ “performed all things according to the Law of the Lord” (Luke 2:39).
It was at the circumcision of Christ that His name was formally given just as at John’s circumcision John’s name was given.
The name, Jesus, had been specified before His birth, both to Joseph and to Mary by God through the angel:
“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.” (Luke 1:31).
The Hebrew form of the name Jesus is “Jeshua” (cf. Joshua), derived by the combination of two root words, meaning “the Lord” and “to save.”
Thus, Jesus means “the Lord’s salvation.”
Jesus Christ is the Lord’s salvation, and therefore Peter in the book of Acts could say with all authority:
Acts 4:12, Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
God absolutely does not give another name but Jesus Christ!
I believe that the name Jesus, which Luke tells us was formally given the Savior at the time of His circumcision, was one of the indications to Simeon that this child, Jesus (the Lord’s salvation), was the promised Messiah.
Thus Simeon says, “For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation” [i.e. Jesus, the Lord’s salvation] (Luke 2:30).
The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (2:22-38)
It is in connection with the presentation of Jesus at the temple that both Simeon and Anna appear, and speak words of divine inspiration, identifying the Christ-child as God’s Messiah.
We need to look at these two godly saints in order to see what it is about them which Luke finds worthy of a place of honor in this, unique to the scriptures incident, in his account of Christ’s childhood.
Luke 2:25-35, And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 33And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Simeon is a man that is something like the old testament character, Melchizedek, in that he suddenly appears out of nowhere.
We are told very little about this man Simeon.
We are told that Anna was from the tribe of Asher but we are not given what tribe Simeon was from.
We know nothing about his family, whether he was married or had any children.
We are told nothing about his occupation, there is no indication that he was a priest, for he was directed of the Holy Spirit to go to the temple.
The only things we are told about Simeon are those things which matter most to God — things which pertain to his faith and his character, things which tell about his relationship with God.
I remember coming into this country when we went overseas.
We had to present only one thing to the official and the was our passport.
How we looked, how glib we talked how much money we had in our wallet, was of no consequence.
Just our passport. Were we Americans?
One thing we need to remember is that when we appear before God we do not need much, just the righteousness of Christ. Are we Christians?
Where we were from, who we knew, what we did for a living lose their importance that that time comes!