Startup: From all the Christmases you’ve known and all the times you’ve heard the Christmas story, what images have formed in your mind of the shepherds? the angels? Mary and Joseph? the baby Jesus? the city of Bethlehem?
SEEING WHAT’S THERE
1. Make a list together of all the people who are actually mentioned in this chapter. Notice also those who are not mentioned here—the innkeeper, and the wise men (magi), and Herod, for example.
2. What in this chapter do you think might be most surprising to a new Christian reading it for the first time?
3. Compare verse 25 with verse 26. What does each one say that Simeon was waiting for? Is this two different ways of saying the same thing?
4. Looking again at verses 25 and 26, how would you explain in your own words Simeon’s spiritual condition?
5. If this chapter were the only Scripture portion you had ever read or heard, and you did not know any facts about the adult life of Jesus, what would you expect this child to be like when He grew up?
6. EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen “the Lord’s Christ.” After Simeon saw Jesus, he prayed and said, “My eyes have seen” What two words complete that sentence? (See verse 30.)
CAPTURE THE ESSENCE
7. From what you see in this chapter, how would you describe Mary and Joseph’s relationship with God?
8. Why do you think God chose shepherds to receive the announcement from His angels of the birth of Christ?
9. Look at verse 49. What would you say the boy Jesus at this time understood about Himself, and about His purpose in life?
10. How does this chapter demonstrate God’s control over history?
FOR LIFE TODAY
11. What aspects of the story of Christ’s birth as presented here do you think are most easily overlooked in the way the Christmas holiday is celebrated?
12. Think again about the description of Simeon in verses 25 and 26. In what ways could this be an example for us?
FOR GOING DEEPER
Compare the Christmas story in Luke 1 and 2—which focuses more on Mary and the shepherds—with the Christmas story as told in Matt 1 and 2, which focuses more on Joseph and the magi. What are the most important ways in which these accounts complement each other?
(from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament, © 1992 by Questar Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.)