Chrysalis Bible Study Luke 2: 21-40
Ref: Oxford Bible Commentary – Barton and Muddiman
Luke – Tyndale New Testament Commentaries – L Morris
The Wrong Messiah – N Page
Jesus presented to the Temple for naming and circumcision day 8, See notes on presentation and naming of John the Baptist. Focus on name given by Angel Gabriel
At a different time, presumably Joseph and Mary were living somewhere in the city or just outside – could they have been staying at Bethany?? - my opinion only - Could the parents of Lazarus, Mary and Martha have been related to Joseph or Mary?? We don’t know. Most authorities would probably suggest they stayed in Bethlehem for a while (5 miles from Jerusalem), but IF they had further relatives in Bethany, this was only 1 ½ miles from the City so may have been a useful short stop over base.
There are 2 presentations here. One is for the purification of Mary at 40 days, (it would have been 80 days if Jesus was a girl! – a commentary of the overtly patriarchal society of the time), and one for the purchase of Jesus (the first born) from God.
Luke suggests the purification was for both parents, which is unusual according to the Law, but Joseph, may well have been considered defiled by his close proximity to Mary, especially if they were being forced to live in a one-roomed domicile due to their poverty.
The gift they gave was a part of the sacrifice as outlined in Leviticus 12:8, for people who could not afford a young lamb. This is another clue to their poverty.
The other presentation was of a payment of 5 shekels to the Temple. Why? Numbers 18:14. The firstborn male offspring of a womb is devoted to God and needs to be redeemed. Only animals such as Ox, Sheep and Goat, were exempted only as they were sacrificed!
Always considered to be an old man, but there is no evidence for this. Apart from this interaction we know nothing of this man.
He is filled with the Spirit and arrives at the temple at the same time as the parents. Simeon offers acceptance of Jesus the Messiah by the Temple, which stands for Israel. He also focuses in his speech (now known within Church music as the Nunc Dimitis – Now I can be dismissed - ) the proclamation that Jesus is for all peoples. Jesus’ being the light to the Gentiles does not lessen the glory of Israel but rather gives it it’s fullest realization.
It further points out that the Salvation work will not be achieved through military power but by surrender. He foresees the hurt Mary will face in a personal level, the word for sword used was Rhomphaia meaning a LARGE sword as opposed to to Machaira used during the last supper and in Gethsemane which refers to a small sword.
Anna is added as a prophetess, her name means “Grace”. We know more about her than Simeon. She lived in the temple compound, she was 84 years old , and had been widowed for many years. The curious bit is that she is of the tribe of Asher. This was one of the northern tribes of Israel, Anna is the only Jewish figure in the New Testament to be so. Everyone else comes from the tribes of Levi, Judah or Benjamin. Anna then is an outsider. Again this is a strong theme of Luke’s Gospel who highlights Jesus Gospel to outsiders. Anna spoke of the child to all who were searching for the Redemption of Jerusalem. This phrase was referring to the deliverance to be produced by the Messiah.
Anna is highlighted as a Prophetess, there had been no prophet for hundreds of years so this is important and noteworthy, and the Talmud (a central sacred text of Rabbinic Judaism) only references 7 prophetesses in all.
Luke tells us that the family then return to Nazareth. There is no mention of the flight to Egypt. We don’t know whether that had occurred prior to the events or after. My suspicion is that is occurred after, as Herod called for the destruction of all boys under the age of 2 in Bethlehem not realizing that the child’s family was not a resident, though the flight to Egypt may in fact speak of a wider threat to the child’s safety.
Interestingly the Child Messiah would have been in Jerusalem perhaps at the same time as the arch enemy Herod the Great, who would shortly attempt to destroy him.