Christian Art and the Bible – Luke 2: 22-52

Splits in to two section, verses 22-40 & 40-52.

Luke 2:22-52New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple

22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,

according to your word;

30 

for my eyes have seen your salvation,

31 

which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

32 

a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon[f] blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Return to Nazareth

39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

The Boy Jesus in the Temple

41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, a Cloisonné enamel work from Georgia. 12th Century Icon on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Tbilisi, Georgia.

I love this simple depiction of the presentation of Jesus, no intricate detail in the background just showing the point of the story of Mary presenting Jesus to Simeon.

One of the main differences between Eastern Orthodox and Western Art that Simeon the temple priest is often already holding the infant or at the moment he is handed over. Like this icon Mary is still holding Jesus.

The Presentation is celebrated at Candlemas https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candlemas

Luke 2: 40-52 Jesus’ return to the temple

We move quickly through Jesus’ early years to when he is 12 years old. With Mary and Joseph and a group of relatives Jesus goes on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On their return from the temple they thought Jesus was with the group but he had stayed behind.

The picture above is a page from a Book of Hours from the 15th Century. It shows a medieval composition that shows Jesus seated on a large thrown-like chair. This image of the thrown-like chair was typical from the 12th Century onwards.

Jesus and the doctors of faith by Giuseppe Ribera

Renaissance painters, painted more “close-up” compositions, showing Jesus surrounded and interacting with the scholars. Focusing on his being the Word of God – sharing his insight and knowledge, teaching the scriptures. On this journey, his return to the temple signposted his divinity.

Ribera’s painting highlights Jesus by making him brighter than anyone else. This painting always reminds me of Jesus time and time again telling the Pharisees of God’s kingdom and his place within it – yet like here in this painting they don’t take any real notice of what he is saying, they don’t take him seriously, and think they can find the Truth for themselves in writings or their own understandings.

About localpreacherforkliftdriver

I am currently a Methodist Minister in the Huddersfield Circuit with pasoral charge of Hade edge, Scholes, Parkwood and Bradley churches. Views are my own.
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