The news of a baby does not usually mix with ominous language about the future of the child. And so far we have had news of unadulterated joy – “good news of great joy which shall be for all the people.”
But, as believers in Jesus – the Messiah born in a manger, the fulfillment of all the hopes and prophecies of centuries – we know. The story has some dark moments – darker than death.
In the midst of all the joy and frivolity of the season, we need to remember the story continues. This babe will grow into a boy, the boy into a man, who will one day sacrifice His life.
Today we meet two characters who foreshadow the future of the story of Jesus – the dark days.
What is interesting about these two characters is they are on death’s threshold. They have experienced the pain of loss and look forward to imminent death.
Into these two elders arms land the Savior of the world – the long-expected one. What they have to say is important to the story of the birth of Jesus, too.
This post may include affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase based on my recommendation, I get a small remuneration at no extra expense to you. I only recommend things I use and believe to be a blessing.
A couple of weeks ago we began our Inductive Study of the Story of the Birth of Jesus. And we are finally to the end of the story! Yea!
We have looked at the characters who dot the Christmas story, as well as the setting. Then we met the Long-awaited One! Then, a couple of days ago, we started to look at the reaction to the birth of Jesus. The responses of two groups and one individual may give us an idea of how we should react to our Savior’s birth.
Let’s dig in!
After the Manger
We have seen all the characters of the Story of the Birth of Jesus along the way in our Bible study – except one. Today we will look at an important figure in the story: Simeon. This is a longer passage than on previous days, so we will just look at the basic details and then look at Simeon’s statement about Jesus. But first, we need to get Jesus in front of Simeon.
According to the Law
Read Luke 2:21-24 and note the things Mary and Joseph did in obedience to the word of the angel and/or the Law of Moses.
- waited eight days after His birth for His circumcision (21)
- named Him Jesus (21)
- completed the days of their purification (22)
- presented Him to the Lord (22)
- offered sacrifice (24) – a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons
An Awaited Meeting
Now that Mary and Joseph had done all the things they were required to do, they meet a special man. Read Luke 2:25-36 and note what you learn about Simeon. We will look at his statements separately, so just get the details about Simeon on this read-through.
- a man in Jerusalem (25)
- righteous and devout (25)
- he was looking for the consolation of Israel (25)
- the Holy Spirit was upon him (25)
- the Holy Spirit had revealed to him he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (26)
- came to the temple (27)
- he took Jesus into his arms, and blessed God (27)
- blessed Mary and Joseph (34)
How would you describe Simeon? Is he old? Is he a man of God? Wouldn’t it be special to know that we would definitely live to see a special event? What special event would you hope to see? (discussion questions)
Now that we have a good idea of who Simeon was, let’s look at what he said when he held Jesus. He spoke a prayer, didn’t he? Read verses 28-35 and make a list of what he said to God.
- Lord, You let your bond-servant depart in peace (29) – remember what a bond-servant is?
- my eyes have seen Your salvation (30)
- You have prepared (His salvation) in the presence of all peoples (31)
Simeon knew he would not die without seeing the Lord’s Christ – the salvation God Himself prepared. And when he held Jesus, he knew this was the One! What is his reaction? (discussion question)
Now Simeon wasn’t done talking. He had some more to say, didn’t he? Let’s look at verses 28-35 again and note what he calls Jesus and what he had to say about Him.
- A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES (32)
- the glory of God’s people Israel (32)
- this child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel (34)
- He is appointed for a sign to be opposed (34)
- He will be opposed to the end (result) that thoughts from many hearts will be revealed (35)
This statement could take a while to unpack, but let’s just simplify it down to the very basics. Who are the Gentiles? (anyone who is not Jewish) Who are God’s people? (Israel, the Jews) What is Simeon saying by including both Gentiles and Jews in this statement about the Savior of the world? (Jesus is meant for everyone’s salvation) Does Simeon say Jesus will have an easy life? That everyone will like Him and see Him as their Savior? (no!)
A Word for Mary
Simeon has one more thing to say while he is holding Jesus. And he says it to Mary. Read verse 35 and note what Simeon, a man with the Holy Spirit upon him, said will happen.
And a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.Luke 2:35
Mary’s heart will be pierced by a sword. Do you think this is a real sword? Or do you think it is referring to a heartbreaking event in her life regarding Jesus?
There is one last person God included in the story of the birth of Jesus. Let’s read verses 36-38 of chapter 2 to see what we learn about her.
- prophetess (36)
- daughter of Phanuel (36)
- of the tribe of Asher (36)
- advanced in years (36)
- married for seven years (36)
- widowed until the age of 84 (37)
- never left the temple (37)
- served night and day with fastings and prayers (37)
- came up at that very moment (38)
- giving thanks to God (38)
- continued to speak of Jesus to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem (38)
At the end of the story of Jesus’ birth, who is left to share the “good news of great joy” with the world? Can you remember? (shepherds, Anna) Remember Simeon is about to die, so he could only share until he died. All the other characters in the story were second-hand witnesses to the details of the story of Jesus’ birth.
But now, over 2000 years later, YOU know the story of the birth of Jesus. Will you share it with others?
A New Resource for You
I want to thank you for coming along on this journey with me! It has been such a blessing to walk through the story of the birth of Jesus with my kids (and with you). I pray this has been a blessing to you.
In response to questions about printable resources for this study, I put together an e-book version of this Bible study for you. The resource will allow you to step away from the computer or phone and have a printed copy of this study (all the prompts and questions). It is available in our shop.
I also created a workbook version of this study. It has more space to work on the questions and doesn’t provide the lists. This resource would be a great fit for older students ready for independent Bible study. Or it would be perfect for one-on-one discipleship study with your older kids!
May God richly bless you as you study the Word with one another!