Lesson 5: Simeon and Anna Jesus: The Expected Gift
Read together Nunc Dimittis (Translation: Latin for “now release”) Lord, now You let Your servant go in peace: Your word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation which You have prepared in the sight of ev’ry people: A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of Your people Israel.
Into the Bible Luke 2:21-40
Ask your students: What did God’s law require of your parents when you were born? (Nothing, God’s law requires nothing.) What did the law of the state require of your parents when you were born? (Complete the birth certificate form which establishing the legal name of the child.)
Who named you? What is the history of your name?
Read 2:21-24 as a class. What did God’s law require of Mary and Joseph? (vs. 21 On the 8th day, Jesus was circumcised and given his name)
What did the law of the state (Rome) require of Mary and Joseph? (This is not told in the narrative of Jesus’ birth)
Who named Jesus? (The angel. Luke 1:31 and Matthew 1:21)
What is the history of Jesus’ name? (Matthew 1:21 …the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. This is God sharing with Joseph what Jesus’ name will mean to God’s people.)
Read 2:22-24 What do you think the term “Law of Moses” means? (These are the laws recorded by Moses in the Torah – the first five books of the Bible – as given to Moses by God when the Israelites were in the desert after leaving Egypt. These laws are the law of God for His people.)
In this passage we read Mary and Joseph followed the Laws of Moses. What two laws in this passage were obeyed?
Mary must complete her purification (a period of 40 days) after the birth of her son BEFORE presenting her son at the Temple.
All first born SONS must be presented at the Temple of God and a sacrifice must be offered.
Why do you think it was important to Luke to record this event in his narrative? (For our sake, Jesus must be the perfect sacrifice God requires to remove our sins with Jesus’ death on the cross. Mary and Joseph, being devout followers of God, obeyed His law, thereby, fulfilling the requirement for the perfect sacrifice for our sins.)
[Optional: verse 23 takes the reader back to the Exodus and the plague of the death of the firstborn son and the Passover. This is recorded in Exodus 11-12:30. In Exodus 13 God gives his law to “Consecrate to me every firstborn male.” God had adopted Israel as his firstborn and had delivered every firstborn among the Israelites, whether man or animal. All the firstborn in Israel were therefore his.)
Read 25-28 Here we meet Simeon. What does Luke say about the character of Simeon? (His was righteous and devout)
What does it mean to be righteous? (To do what is right in the sight of God) What does it mean to be devout? (religious, spiritual, sincere, dedicated, committed – in other words, Simeon worshiped God with his heart. He truly had a personal relationship with God.)
What was Simeon waiting for? (“consolation of Israel” – What does this mean? Simeon was waiting for the promised Messiah – the promised Savior given to Adam and Eve and promised to Abraham, Jacob, and King David.)
Verse 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Wow! How excited Simeon must have been after that revelation from the Holy Spirit. The time for the long ago promised Savior/Messiah was going to happen while he was alive and he, himself, would see this very long expected Messiah in person. This would be as if God sent His Holy Spirit to you and told you that you would see the second coming of Jesus. God’s people have waiting for his return since his ascension into heaven, about 2000 years ago. Imagine yourself as Simeon. YOU are going to see the Savior of the world!
Verse 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, Simeon took him in his arms and…… Simeon woke up that morning, things were as usual. The Holy Spirit directed him to the temple. Then, he saw the baby and the Holy Spirit caused him to recognize the baby in Mary’s arms as the Savior of the world. Again, WOW! God had given Simeon the gift of seeing and holding the Christ child. This child was the gift God had promised to Simeon, the expected gift.
Read verses 28-32 What was Simeon’s response to holding this child? (Simeon praised God.)
Do these words sound familiar to you? Explain: We sing them at the end of the communion service. During communion we, like Simeon, come into the presence of our Savior. We do not hold him as Simeon did. We expect to meet Jesus when we receive his body and blood in Holy Communion. Jesus comes to us. Jesus said, “This is my body and this is my blood”. The words of Simeon reflect heartfelt response to receiving Jesus. We, like Simeon, can leave in peace, knowing we have seen God’s salvation for us.
Verse 32 “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Why is this great news for us today? (We are Gentiles in the Biblical sense. We are not Jewish. God promised his people, the Israelites/Jews, the Savior of the world would come to them. In these words, God tells us the Savior of the world is indeed, the Savior for all people – the Jews and the Gentiles.)
Why is Jesus considered the “ glory to your people Israel.”? The Israelites have the bragging rights to say, “The Savior was one of our people.” God had promised Abraham, Jacob and King David the Savior of the world would come through their lineage. Because there were Israelites faithful to God, God blessed them by giving them these bragging rights.
Moved by the Holy Spirit, Simeon blesses Mary and gives her some news that must have saddened Mary’s heart. Listen to his words, “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.” Think about the events of Holy Week. The priests bring Jesus to trial; take Jesus to Pilate to be beaten and hung on the cross to die. That was God’s plan for our salvation but, as a mother, it must have made Mary’s heart very heavy. Listen again Mary’s response to the angel upon hearing she was to be the Messiah’s mother, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Mary had complete faith in God and his provisions for her care. We may have very sad things happen in our lives, but like Mary, we can trust in God to care for us.
Anna – the prophetess In Luke 2:36-38 we read about a woman who was a prophetess. (Prophetess is a woman who delivers the Word of God to His people.)
Luke reveals that Anna was 84 years old when she met Jesus. She had lived most of her life alone, living in the temple. She spent most of her time in prayer, an act of devotion to God. She had been faithful to God. She was at the temple the day Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the temple to offer sacrifices.
Read verse 38. What did Anna do when she met Jesus?
Spoke about Jesus to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
The Holy Spirit worked through Anna to share the Good News about Jesus. What does this mean to you? (The Holy Spirit can also use you to share about Jesus to those God puts into your life.)
Bible Verse: Luke 2:30-32 For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people.
Prayer Dear Father in Heaven, You reveal your Savior, your Son, through your Word, through the Bible, through worship, through our parents and teachers. Bless us with words and opportunities to share this Good News to all people you place in our lives. Amen