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Luke 2:22-38: Simeon and Anna prophesy about Jesus
We see Jesus growing amid the Jewish religion as two pious people praise God and foretell the future of Jesus.

Verses 22-24: Presentation of Jesus

The time came for Mary and Joseph to do what the Law of Moses says a mother is supposed to do after her baby is born. They took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and presented him to the Lord, just as the Law of the Lord says, "Each first-born baby boy belongs to the Lord." The Law of the Lord also says that parents have to offer a sacrifice, giving at least a pair of doves or two young pigeons. so that is what Mary and Joseph did. [CEV verses 22-24]

Some notes on these verses:

  • Again we see Mary and Joseph as pious Jews, doing everything commanded of them.
  • Took Jesus to the temple. Bethlehem and the temple in Jerusalem were no more than about five miles apart.
  • All first born males were to serve as priests (Exodus 34.19-20). In accordance with Godís commands in Exodus, it was typical to "redeem" them by paying a fee that went to support those who did serve as priests.
  • A women who gave birth spent 40 days before being purified (Leviticus 12). The specific sacrifice they offer is the one Leviticus allows for poor people.


Verses 25-35: Simeon

Some notes on these verses:

We began this chapter by talking about Luke putting Jesusí birth in the context of the Roman Empire. But we have also had several occasions to notice how Luke describes those around Jesus as pious and devote Jews. Here he does so again in the story of Simon and Anna.

Luke often tells about a promise, the fulfillment of that promise, and the praise of God that occurs when people see Godís promise fulfilled. We see this for Simon who had a promise made to him, and now that he sees the promise met, he bursts forth in praise of God. In his praise, Simon conveys some more of Godís promises about Jesus. (Notice that twice we are told that Godís spirit is speaking to Simon.)

There have been many examples of this pattern (promise, fulfillment, praise) so far in both Chapter 1 and 2 of Lukeís gospel. See if you can find some of them.

What does Simon prophesy or foretell about Jesus?

  • "A light for all nations." Again, we are told that Jesusí mission will be universal. It will include the Jewish people, but not be limited to them.
  • "many people in Israel to fall and others to stand." In these chapters there is an undertone that Jesus will not be just about private matters of spirituality, but will have political or economic consequences. See Luke 1.51-53 for another example.
  • "Many people will reject him." While Jesus offers a universal salvation, not all will accept it.
  • "you, Mary, will suffer" Not all is sweetness and light at Christmas time. Here is a clear warning that the way of Jesus will bring suffering, even for Mary. As Mary later watches her son being put to death on the cross, these words might have come back to her.
  • "will show what people are thinking" A theme in the Bible is that Godís word and actions reveal things. The truth will out. How people react to Jesus reveals something vital about them. In this way we see that "light" is not just wonderful and positive (bringing light in our darkness) but also revealing of evil (casting light on bad things people want hidden).


Verses 36-38: Anna

Some notes on these verses:

  • While Anna doesnít get as many verses as Simon, she is also described as unusually devote. She is also given the very high title "prophet."
  • "Anna" is the Greek form of the Hebrew name, "Hanna."
  • Did you know that not all branches of the Christian church have exactly the same books in their Bibles? In Bibles used by Roman Catholics there is the book of Judith. It tells about a pious Jewish woman who through her courage and intelligence saves her village from an attacking army. Scholars have noted parallels between the descriptions of Judith and Anna.
  • "everyone who hoped for Jerusalem to be set free." If Simon emphasized the universal nature of Jesusí mission, Anna emphasizes that Jesus will still be for the Jews as well.

Last updated 12/17/07; posted 12/11/00; © 2000 John P. Nordin