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Twelve Great Feasts 5: The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple

Title: The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple

Subject: The Feast of the Presentation or Meeting of Our Lord in the Temple. This lesson studies the scripture, iconography, hymnology, and traditions surrounding this feast.

Age: 13 + years

Liturgical Time: February 2, forty days after the Feast of the Nativity
Note: This is the fifth class in the Twelve Great Feast series.

Doctrinal Content: Forty days after celebrating the Feast of the Nativity, we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple.

Direct Aim: The direct aim is to become more familiar with the Feast of Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple through examining history, iconography, hymns and traditions involved with this feast.

Indirect Aim: Through studying the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, we can become more familiar with the scripture passages of this feast, and through this have more reverence for Mary in fulfilling the Law in presenting her Son to God in the temple.

Materials for the Lesson Plan
Note taking is recommended for students.
Icon of the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord
Bible verses:

  • Leviticus 12.2-8
  • Numbers 18.15-18
  • Exodus 13.1-16
  • Isaiah 6.1-12, passages from Chapter 19
  • Hebrews 7.1-17
  • Luke 2.22-40
  • Psalm 90/91.16

Lesson Plan
Begin with a prayer and welcome the students.

History and Context
Today we are studying the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, also called the meeting of our Lord. We celebrate this feast of February 2, forty days after Christmas, or the Feast of the Nativity.

Leviticus 12.2-8 (read aloud) is a passage concerning the Law of Moses and the requirements of a mother after childbirth. Mothers are instructed to present their male children 40 days after birth in the Temple and offer a sacrifice. This passage also states that on the eighth day males are to be circumcised. This passage is seen to be symbolic of baptism in that the 7 days represent the old life of sin that is on the 8th day renewed by the Holy Spirit.

In Numbers 18.15-18, we learn that the first born belongs to the Lord. This passage also speaks about the concept of redemption, i.e. buying back essentially what is understood to be the Lord's. This was done by making an offering of a sacrifice. These two texts govern the activity of Joseph and Mary who present their first born son to the Lord in the Temple.

Show and discuss the Icon of the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple.

During vespers we hear meditations on the thoughts of Simeon and a call to participate in this feast as Simeon did. Recall the constant idea of Chronos and Kairos. Especially prevalent is a comparison to Moses' experience and Simeon's:

  • The one, Moses, received the law from Christ
  • The other, Simeon, receives the fulfillment of the Law in Christ.
  • The one is deemed worthy only to see God through darkness and an indistinct voice.
  • He is also sent with face veiled to reprove the Hebrews.
  • The other sees the Word of the Father, God before all ages; he carries the true light Who is a revelation not only to the Hebrew but the Nations.

This idea is carried over from the Nativity. Mary who carried Christ, and who is therefore greater than the Temple, brings Christ to the Temple.

One hymn is worth repeating word for word: "Christ, the live Coal foreseen, by the divine Isaiah, is given to the Elder, upon the Theotokos' spotless hands as though with tongs." (Comment on the beauty and depth of these hymns.)

Exodus 13.1-16: Three themes are found in this passage:

  • The first born are to be sanctified unto the Lord, for they are His.
  • The feast of the Unleavened Bread; the remembrance of Israel's deliverance from bondage
  • The tradition of the first born; the first born of Egypt died but those of Israel were redeemed and delivered from bondage

This prefigures the release from bondage that comes through the first born child of Mary.

Isaiah 6.1-12: This passage concerns Isaiah's vision in the Temple of God.

  • God is present not just in the holy of holies but His presence fills the Temple.
  • Symbolically these words prefigure Christ's entrance into the Temple; God indeed has come to be present and He now truly fills the Temple. As Isaiah says, "Woe is me, because I am pierced to the heart, for being a man and having unclean lips, I dwell in the midst of a people with unclean lips; for I saw the King, the Lord of hosts, with my eyes!"

Passages from the 19th chapter of Isaiah:
This reading only makes sense when:

  • "One sees that the coming of the Lord in Egypt, the destruction of the Egyptian idols in his presence, and the worship of him by the Egyptians can be applied to the revelation that Christ made of himself to the heathen (‘the light to lighten the Gentiles' as it says in the Song of Simeon)."

Hebrews 7.1-17:

  • Abraham pays homage to Melchisedec, which is a way of saying that the priesthood of Aaron pays homage to the priesthood of Christ. That is to say that the Levitical priesthood is a prefigurement and a type of the true priesthood, and the precursor falls away in the presence of the actual.

Luke 2.22-40 tells the story of the Lord's presentation:
Verses 22-24, Jesus is Dedicated in the Temple.

  • Mary and Joseph fulfill the requirements of the Law, which required that an offering of an unblemished land be offered. If the mother can afford this, then a pair of turtledoves could be offered or two young pigeons. Consider that Mary and Joseph offer up exactly what is required, the unblemished Lamb of God. Therefore they perfectly fulfill the precepts of the Law.
  • It brings to mind the prophecy found in (Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac) Genesis 22.8, "God will provide for Himself the sheep for a whole burnt offering."

Verses 25-33, Simeon's Song:

  • In Simeon we see mankind. We see our waiting for the consolation of Israel.
  • See Psalm 90/91. 16
  • We have said earlier in our conversation about the Feast of the Annunciation that we are each called to function as a type of Mary, to prepare inside each of us a resting place, a womb, for God to reside. We are to grow this life of Christ within us and when it has fully developed, to give birth, to give to the world Christ.
  • Likewise we are to be Simeon: We are to hold the Savior in our arms. We are to present a Holy Temple in which the Lord of Hosts can enter, and then we too can utter the phrase "now lettest thy servant depart in peace." Now the phrase itself not only refers to the peace that comes at the time of our death from having held Christ, it also refers to the peace that comes from when we hold Christ. We are no longer at war with sin and the flesh no longer rules the spirit. As a result we have peace we can leave behind us the realm of evil and sin. Simeon also prefigures Mary's presence and role at Christ's passion.

Verses 36-38, Anna's Prophecy:

  • A woman who fasts and prays continually is also rewarded with a vision of Christ and the redemption of Israel. This is an example of what life we should live.

Customs and Traditions
Customs and Traditions surrounding the Feast of the presentation of Our Lord include viewing baptism as the fulfillment of circumcision, thus constructing baptismal fonts eight sided. We present children to the Church on their 40th day. On that day the parents give the child to the Priest, who then brings them into the Temple to be presented unto the Lord. Also, the prayer of Simeon is a part of the daily prayers of the Church.

Prepared by Fr. Evan Armatas

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