John T. Willis

Monday, December 19, 2011

Jesus' Circumcision, The Manifestation to Simeon and Anna--Luke 2:21-40

After Luke relates his account of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-20, he relates the account of the circumcision of Jesus and the manifestation of Jesus to two old Israelite people: Simeon and Anna, preserved in Luke 2:21-40. There are numerous similarities between this account at Old Testament texts, especially the birth and growth of Samuel in 1 Samuel 1-2. The account in Luke 2:21-40 falls into four parts.

I. The Circumcision of Jesus. Luke 2:21-24.
a. The Law of Moses in Leviticus 12:2-8 gives three instructions in conjunction with the birth of a male child. (1) When a woman bears a child, she is unclean for seven days. On the eighth day, the male child must be circumcised. (2) The time of blood purification of mother of the new male child is 33 days. (3) After the time of 33 days of blood purification, she must bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb for a burnt offering and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. If she is too poor to bring a sheep, she may bring two turtledoves or two pigeons. Then she shall be clean from her flow of blood. 2:21.
b. Joseph and Mary named this child Jesus, following the instruction of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. See 1:31. 2:22-24. [Note: 1:22-24 is very similar to the story of the presentation of Samuel by his mother in the sanctuary at Shiloh. 1 Samuel 1:22-24].

II. The Manifestation to Simeon. Luke 1:25-35.
a. There was an old man named Simeon in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout and looked forward to the consolation of Israel. One who is devout is one who stands in reverence and awe in the presence of God. 2:25.
b. The Holy Spirit came upon Simeon to reveal to him that he would not die before he has seen the Lord's Messiah, the Anointed of Yahweh--see 1 Samuel 24:7,
11; 26:9, 11, 16, 23. The Holy Spirit guided Simeon into the temple. Joseph and Mary had brought in Jesus to do for Jesus what the Law of Moses had commanded. 2:26-27.
c. Simeon put Jesus in his arms and and praised God [just as Zechariah did in 1:64] in the Nunc Dimittis. Simeon addressed God as "Master," and himself as "servant." He praised God because God is dismissing Simeon to die in peace according to his word, because Simeon has seen the newborn baby Jesus, God's "salvation." This is an allusion to Isaiah 40:5, and recurs in Luke 3:6; Acts 28:28. Simeon proclaims that God has "prepared" Jesus "in the presence of ALL PEOPLES." God's concern is both for Israel and for all nations. This concept emerges from Isaiah 52:10. Simeon declared that God have Jesus "a light for revelation to the Gentiles," an expression derived from Isaiah 49:6, 9, and "glory for God's people Israel," an expression based on Isaiah 46:13. Ephesians 2:11-16 ties all these concepts together. 2:28-32.
d. Joseph and Mary were amazed at what Simeon said about Jesus. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary: (1) Jesus is destined to the fall and rise of many in Israel. The fall of Jesus is his rejection by the people of Israel, and his rise is his resurrection. (2) The whole life of Jesus, his rejection and crucifixion, and his resurrection, will reveal the inner thoughts of many. Jesus becomes an apex or dividing line between the good and the evil, between the righteous and the wicked.
(3) A sword will pierce through the soul of Mary. It is wrenching when God through Jesus Christ separates families between father and son, mother and daugther, and all other types of relationships. See Luke 8:19-21; 11:27-28; 12:51-53. 2:33-35.

III. The Manifestation to Anna. Luke 2:36-38.
a. In the Jerusalem temple, there was also an old woman, a widow, at the age of 84. She was from the tribe of Asher located in North Israel. See Deuteronomy
33:24-25. Her name was Anna, the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Hannah. Hannah was the mother of Samuel the prophet. 1 Samuel 1:19-20. 2:36-37a.
b. Anna never left the temple, but there she "worshipped God with fasting and prayer night and day." See the same expression in Acts 26:7. Godly people regularly worship God with fasting and prayer. See Matthew 17:21; Mark 9:29; Acts 13:3; 14:23; 1 Corinthians 7:5. 2:37b.
c. Anna was a prophet--a preacher. When she saw the newborn Jesus, she praised God, and SPOKE about Jesus to ALL who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. According to the Bible, both God raises up both men and women to prophesy, that is, to preach God's words, God's eternal message--see Exodus 2:20-21; Judges 4:4;
2 Kings 22:14-20; Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:17-21; 21:9. 2:38.

IV. Joseph and Mary return to Nazareth. Luke 2:39-40.
a. When Joseph and Mary did everything required by the Law of Moses in conjunction with the birth and circumcision of Jesus, they returned to their home in Nazareth in Galilee. 2:39.
b. Jesus grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him. Similar language appears in the stories of Samuel in 1 Samuel 2:21, 26, and of John in Luke 1:80. 2:40.

These biblical accounts contain rich and inspiring thoughts. I hope all of YOU rejoice in these accounts.

Share YOUR ideas and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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