Jesus is Presented in the Temple
Key Verse: “Mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people.”
MARY AND JOSEPH WERE both pious servants of God, so in accordance with the instructions of the Law, they brought their new son, Jesus, to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice forty days after his birth. (Lev. 12:1-4) It was here that they met a man named Simeon, whose words are at the center of today’s lesson.
Of this man, Luke says, “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 Spirit was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And 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, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people.”—Luke 2:25-31
We might properly ask how this man could perceive the arrival of the “Lord’s Christ” when presented as a baby, while so many others could not perceive him as the Christ when, as a full-grown man, he preached the Gospel and performed miracles. We answer in the words of Peter: “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (II Pet. 1:21) Through the enlightening power of the Holy Spirit of God, Simeon was privileged to discern the “light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel,” and declare that light to be Jesus, though now only a babe. (Luke 2:32) Jesus’ position as the “Lord’s Christ” was reaffirmed later the same day when a prophetess named Anna, who served in the Temple, spoke similar words “to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”—vs. 38
The account of Simeon and Anna provide an important lesson for us to consider. While Jesus has been presented to the world, yet only those whose eyes of understanding have been opened by the Holy Spirit can perceive who he truly is. Paul tells us, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (I Cor. 2:9,10) Jesus himself declared that now is not the time for the world in general to understand these mysteries, because their hearts are not yet in a proper condition to receive this knowledge.—Matt. 13:10-15
Through the enlightenment of God’s Holy Spirit, we know the world is not to be excluded from the eventual blessing God has promised to all, but that now is not the time for the general blessing to be given them. Rather, now is the special time God has set aside in his plan to gather a family from amongst the peoples of the world to be Christ’s bride in the next age. For those striving to be of this class, now is the time to specially think upon the words of Simeon and Anna, and to consider how we should likewise be presented to God—holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service.—Rom. 12:1