The first episode represents the expulsion of Joachim, the father of Mary, from the Temple of Jerusalem. A ceremony is taking place in which several figures are carrying lambs for sacrifice. However, Joachim was banned from attending due to his alleged sterility. Ghirlandaio set the scene in a sumptuous loggia of Greek cross plan, with a sequence of arches in the background and an octagonal altar in the middle, where the sacrificial fire is lit. The characters are illuminated from above, as if by the natural lighting from the real chapel windows.
Two groups of Florentine people, representing the populace, are shown to the sides of the scene. They wear contemporary fashionable clothes (for which the frescoes are a famous source), unlike the main biblical figures, who wear the usual "iconographic costume". On the left, two figures may be identified as Lorenzo Tornabuoni, son of Ghirlandaio's patron, and Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici, the former's friend. In the righthand group is a self-portrait of the artist with some of his relatives. The loggia in the background could be a representation of the Ospedale di San Paolo (St. Paul's Hospital), which was then under construction in the same square as Santa Maria Novella. The two buildings on the sides are examples of typical edifices of 15th-century Florence, characterized by rustication and an upper loggia.