Often the excitement of the Nativity story centers around the typical manger scene images: shepherds, angels, Mary and Joseph…somehow we skip from that to the remainder of Christ’s life and neglect some of the significant details. This lesson focuses on the dedication of Jesus in the temple, and the excitement of Simeon and Anna as they meet the Savior.
Lesson focus: From the beginning God had prepared a special path for the life of Jesus; He has a plan and purpose for our lives, too!
Passage: Luke 2:22-40 Lesson – Jesus is Presented at the Temple (Prophecy Fulfilled)
Target Audience: Elementary school (adaptable older/younger)
Materials Needed: Pictures of celebrities (and/or church leaders!) as babies and modern; Bibles; picture of temple; map of Holy Land; cardstock; yarn; markers/crayons for decorating.
Start out with a little game…Guess who? Display for students several baby photos of well-known people (famous, celebrities, church members, etc). See if they can match up with pictures of the same people as adults. For added challenge, though, do not show the adult pictures right away (or just give a list of names). Ask a couple of leading questions…do you think these people and their parents knew that they would grow to be special and famous? Did they have any idea as kids how life would turn out? Explain that today they will hear a special story from Jesus’s childhood, and from it get an idea of how God has a special plan for everyone.
After the stable…this lesson takes a look at the events of Christ’s dedication in the temple. Ask students if any of them have been dedicated as babies in church. Explain that in the days of Jesus, all people were required to bring new babies to church to be blessed by God. Since Jesus was a person of course, his parents took him to the temple:
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses,Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
Show students a simple map to point out places in the life of Jesus (Jerusalem, Galilee, Bethlehem, Nazareth). Point out Jerusalem in particular and pass around pictures of the Temple, emphasizing its significance. The holy parents were offering Jesus to God for His use. They knew He was meant to do amazing things. There were some people in the Temple who also knew that Jesus had a very special destiny…
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Provide a brief explanation of who Simeon was. He studied the Bible, and it says here that God promised he would see the Messiah before he died. After witnessing Jesus, he was satisfied and felt he had all he needed. Jesus is all we need, too! There was another person in the temple who recognized Christ’s purpose:
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
These people had waited their whole lives and were thrilled and overjoyed to have a glimpse of the Savior. They knew that Jesus was called by God and dedicated to something special. The word “dedicated” means committed, set apart, or reserved for an important purpose. Jesus was dedicated to serve and to die for us. How can we be dedicated to Him??
Craft: Dedication cards: Have students make special dedication cards to remind them that they are meant for something special. Provide coloring materials, card stock, and string. Students can turn creations into bookmarks, door hangers, or just something to look at. They can put their names, a Bible verse, or a simple sentence reminding them to always seek the savior and be dedicated to HIM.
Close with prayer and thanks for God’s work in our lives. Thank Him for giving us Jesus and for giving our lives meaning. Ask Him to help direct our paths and show what His purpose for us is.