An Angel appears to Joseph
There were three steps in a Jewish marriage. First, the two families agreed to the union. Second, a public announcement was made. St this point the couple was “pledged.” This was similar to engagement today except that their relationship could be broken only through death or divorce (even though sexual relations were not yet permitted). Third, the couple was married and began living together. Because Mary and Joseph were engaged, Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness caused a severe social stigma. According to Jewish civil law, Joseph had a right to divorce her, and the Jewish authorities could have had her stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:23, 24).
Why is the virgin birth important to the Christian faith? Jesus Christ, God’s Son, had to be free from the sinful nature passed on to all other human beings by Adam. Because Jesus was born of a woman, he was a human being; but as the Son of God. Jesus was born without any trace of human sin. Jesus is both fully human and fully divine.
Because Jesus lived as a man, we know that He fully understands our experiences and struggles (Hebrews 4:15, 16). Because he is God, he has the power and authority to deliver us from sin (Collossians 2:13-15). We can tell Jesus all our thoughts, feelings, and needs. He has been where we are now, and has the ability to help.
Joseph was faced with a difficult choice after discovering that Mary was pregnant. Although he knew that taking Mary as his wife could be humiliating. Joseph chose to obey the angel’s command to marry her. His action revealed four admirable qualities: (1) righteousness (1:19), (2) discretion and sensitivity (1:19), (3) responsiveness to God (1:24), and (4) self discipline (1:25).
Perhaps Joseph thought he had only two options divorce Mary quietly, or have her stoned. But God had a third option-marry her (20-23). In view of the circumstances, that had not occurred to Joseph. But God often shows us that there are more options available than we think. Although Joseph seemed, to be doing the right thing by breaking the engagement only God’s guidance helped him make the best decision. When our decisions affect the lives of others, we must always seek God’s wisdom.
The conception and birth of Jesus Christ are supernatural events beyond human logic or reasoning. Because of this, God sent angels to help certain people understanding the significance of what was happening (see 2:13, 19: Luke 1:11, 26, 2:9).
Angels are spiritual beings created by God who help carry out his work on earth. They bring God’s messages to people (Luke 1:26), protect God’s people (Daniel 6:22), offer encouragement (Genesis 16:7ff), give guidance (Exodus 14:19), carry out punishment (2 Samuel 24:16), patrol the earth (Zechariah 1:9-14), and fight the forces of evil (2 Kings 6:16-18; Revelations 20:1, 2). There are both good and bad angels (Revelation 12:7), but because bad angels are allied with the devil or Satan, they have considerably less power and authority than good angels. Eventually the main role of angels will be to offer continuous praise to God (Revelation 7:11, 12).”
The angel declared to Joseph that Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit and would be a son. This reveals an important truth about Jesus-He is both God and human. The infinite, unlimited, God took on the limitations of humanity so he could live and die for the salvation of all who would believe in him.
Jesus means “the Lord saves.” Jesus came to earth to save us because we can’t save ourselves from sin and its consequences. No matter how good we are, we can’t eliminate the sinful nature present in all of us. Only jesus can do that. Jesus didn’t come to help people save themselves; he came to be their Savior from the power and penalty of sin. Thank Christ for his death on the cross for your sin, and then ask him to take control of your life. Your new life begins at that moment.
Jesus was to be called Immanuel (God with us”) as predicted by Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 7:14). Jesus was God in the flesh; thus God was literally among us, “with us.” Through the Holy Spirit. Christ is present today in the life of every believer. Perhaps not even Isaiah understood how far-reaching the meaning of “Immanuel” would be.
Joseph changed his plans quickly after learning that Mary had not been unfaithful to him (1:19). He obeyed God and proceeded with the marriage plans. Although others may have disapproved of his decision. Joseph went ahead with what he knew was right. Sometimes we avoid doing what is right because of what others might think like Joseph we must choose to obey God rather than seek the approval of others.
Because Matthew wrote for a Jewish audience, he began his Gospel by showing through family records that Jesus was a descendant of both King David and Abraham. Joseph found it difficult to understand the supernatural conception and birth of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps changes are in the air right now. Maybe you’re in the midst of a decision. it’s disrupting, isn’t it? You like your branch…. And, like Joseph, you’ve been a pretty good branch -sitter. And then you hear the call. “I need you to go out on the limb and
… move. Take your family and move overseas, I have a special work for you.”
… forgive, It doesn’t matter who hurt who first. What matters is that you go and build the bridge.”
… evangelize. That new family down the block? They don’t know anyone in town. Go meet them.”
… sacrifice. The orphanage has a mortgage payment due this month. They can’t meet it. Remember the bonus you received last week?”
Regardless of the nature of the call, the consequences are the same: civil war. Though your heart may say yes, your feet say no. Excuses blow numerously as golden leaves in an autum wind. “That’s not my talent.” “It’s time for someone else to take charge.” “Notnow. I’ll get to it tomorrow.”
But eventually you’re left staring at a bare tree and a hard choice: His will or yours?
(From God Came Near by Max Lucado)
God’s plan encompasses your personality, your talents, and your future. Ask God today to help you be a witness, open to new assignments, and eager to grow in faith.
“A virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means, “God is with us”). Matt. 1:23)
Two musicians offered to play at a Christmas fundraising event. Two women who accompanied these men had come to a few of the practices, but Celine Bastien had not really had a chance to get to know them. These woman surprised he by saying, “Maybe I’ll come to church sometime.” And they did.
The same thing happened about a month later with their language teacher. She also said, “I was thinking I might come to church one of these Sunday mornings.” And she did.
As Celine thinks back, one thing stands out to her…and amazes her: They hadn’t witnessed to these women or engaged them in any spiritual conversation directly or anything of the sort. And here they both expressed the desire to come to church! So what was it that drew them?
Celine thought what drew them is what Christmas is all about: Emmanuel, God with us. No, we cannot compare ourselves to Jesus, the ultimate Incarnation of God, but as members of the body of Christ we are often the only Bible some people read. We, the church, are His body, and God’s Holy Spirit indwells us. perhaps in some small way these women were able to see a reflection of the Incarnate God in us … just enough so that God’s Holy Spirit could begin stirring up within them a tug on their hearts.
Lord, we thank you that Jesus took on human flesh and lived among us so that we could see you in tangible form and that we would understand your love for us. Thank you that you live in us and by your Holy Spirit help us to be true reflections of you to the world. May people be drawn to You because of it.
Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife….
When you are dealing with waiting; consider, Joseph and how he was ready to walk away from Mary when he discovered she was pregnant until an angel in a dream reassured him, “Fear not.” The rest he had to take on trust. The trip to Bethlehem, the visits from wise men and shepherds, the hurried escape to Egypt – the Christmas story wouldn’t have happened if Joseph hadn’t trusted God.
So promise to trust God.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife. – Matthew 1:24
God usually performs His miracles out of what was already there.
Lord, thank You for answers to prayer that sneak up on us from right under our noses. Just like the first Christmas.
How would you feel in Joseph’s place in verse 19? In verses 20-21? What would you say to family and friends? To God?
What reason does Matthew give as to why Jesus was born (v. 21)?
Apart from fulfilling prophecy, why was Jesus’ virgin birth necessary?
How have you experienced Jesus as “Immanuel” in your life lately?
What do you learn about faith from Joseph?
The angel of the Lord appeared onto him [Joseph] in a dream…. – Matthew 1:20
Joseph was a man of great faith; and has shown us that receiving guidance is a matter of trusting inner leadings. God spoke to him in dreams. He sometimes speads to us that way, too. Or else His guidance comes through something you read in the Scriptures, or in a chance remark by a friend. But it only happens when you ask.
Provide me with the guidance I need, O Lord.
Jesus is Born in Bethlehem
Luke is the only Gospel writer who related the events he recorded to world history. His account was addressed to a predominantly Greek audience that would have been interested in and familiar with the political situation. Palestine was under the rule of the Roman emperor, was in charge. The Roman rulers, considered to be like gods, stood in contrast to the tiny baby in a manger who was truly God in the flesh.
A Roman census (Student_registration) was taken to aid military conscription or tax collection. The Jews didn’t have to serve in the Roman army, but they could not avoid paying taxes. Augustus’s decree went out in God’s perfect timing and according to God’s perfect timing and according to God’s perfect plan to bring His Son into the world.
The government forced Joseph to make a long trip just to pay his taxes. His fiancée, who had to go with him, was going to have a baby any moment. But when they arrived in Bethlehem, they couldn’t even find a place to stay. When we do God’s will, we are not guaranteed a comfortable life. But we are promised that everything, even our discomfort, has meaning in God’s plan.
God controls all history. By the decree of Augustus, Jesus was born in the very town prophesied for his birth (Micah 5:2), even though his parents did not live there.
Joseph and Mary were both descendents of David. The Old Testament is filled with prophecies that the Messiah would be born in David’s royal line (see for example, (Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 33:15; Ezekiel 37:24; Hosea 3:5).
Bands of cloth were used to keep a baby warm and give it a sense of security. These cloths were believed to protect its internal organs. The custom of wrapping infants this way is still practiced in many Mideastern countries.
The mention of the manger is the basis for the traditional belief that Jesus was born in a stable. Stables were often caves with feeding troughs (managers) carved into the rock walls. Despite popular Christmas card pictures, the surroundings were dark and dirty. This was not the atmosphere the Jews expected as the birth place of the Messiah king. They thought their promised Messiah would be born in royal surroundings. We should not limited God by our expectations. He is at work wherever He is needed in our sin-darkened and dirty world.
Although our first picture of Jesus is a baby in a manger, it must not be our last. The Christ-child in the manger has been made into a beautiful Christmas scene, but we cannot leave him there. This tiny, helpless baby lived an amazing life, died for us ascended to heaven, and will come back to this earth as king of kings. Christ will rule the world and judge all people according to their decisions about him. Do you still picture Jesus as a baby in a manger-or is be your Lord? Make sure you don’t underestimate Jesus. Let him grow up in your life.
Luke gave an account of the birth of Jesus and his early life. God’s son became a person and lived with us for a while. During his life he was sad, happy, excited, and disappointed. God knows what life on earth is like.
The implications of the name Immanuel are both comforting and unsettling. Comforting, because He has come to share the danger as well as the drudgery of our everyday lives. He desires to weep with us and to wipe away our tears. And what seems most bizarre, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, longs to share in and to be the source of the laughter and the joy we all too rarely know.
The implications are unsettling. It is one thing to claim that God looks down upon us, from a save distance, and speaks to us (via long distance, we hope). But to say that He is right here, is to put ourselves and Him in a totally new situation. He is no longer the calm and benevolent observer in the sky, the kindly old caricature with the beard. His image becomes that of Jesus, who wept and laughed, who fasted and feasted, and who, above all, was fully present to those He loved. He was there with them. He is here with us….
Most incredible, however, are the times we know He is with us in the midst of our daily, routine lives. In the middle of cleaning the house or driving somewhere in the pick-up, He stops us… in our tracks and makes His presence known. Often it’s in the middle of the most mundane task that He lets us know He is there with us. We realize, then, that there can be no “ordinary” moments for people who live their lives with Jesus.
Jesus paid a tremendous price to be with us. Certainly the cross was the most obvious cost. But I believe more is in view.
We focus so much on the fact that Jesus died for us, we sometimes forget that He also lived for us and lives for us still. If Jesus had simply come as Himself, and not as one of us, the Bible makes it quite clear that we could not have borne the sight of His presence, any more than Moses could have looked directly at the face of God.
Imagine what it would be like to be at the Father’s side one moment and struggling to sleep in a cattle trough the next. Imagine what it would be like to go from hearing the praise of angels to suffering the taunts of stupid men. The cost to Jesus is an indication of the incredible value of what He came to give us. And because no one will ever fully know what that cost Jesus, we can only begin to understand the incredible value of His gift to us.
(From Immanuel by Michael Card).
Take a moment and reflect on what “Immanuel – God with us” means to you in your daily life. Make it a point to seek God even in the mundane tasks of your life.
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world… [Joseph] went there to register with Mary (Luke 2:1, 5).
Do you remember a small cartoon boy named Linus, standing alone on the stage with his blanket, reciting Luke’s Christmas story.
The circumstances of Jesus’ birth fulfill yet another of God’s promises. The emperor ordered that a census be taken, so Joseph took Mary from their home in Galilee and traveled “to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David” (luke 2:4). And there Micah’s prophecy came to pass. Out of the smallest clan of Judah, the birthplace of David, came the Messiah. Now Micah’s enigmatic words, that He is “one whose origins are from of old, from ancient times,” makes sense. Jesus is the Son of God and has been King from the very beginning.
Today, join the shepherds who received the news of Messiah’s birth. Glorify and praise God for all the things you have heard and seen, which are just as you have been told.
Thank You, God, for the miracle of Christmas, the fulfillment of your promise.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:7
Release your children to God. Help the homeless.
Lord, I let go of my doubts and fears about the future of my children and myself. Lord, some things are unspeakably sad. I try to help in some small way, but sometimes it just get’s to me. help me to remember the good that can come out of the sad: people who have no place to stay – only a manger – make it work, somehow, and they grow and live and absolutely change the world forever, and ever.
In light of the promises of 1:30-35, how might Mary feel as she awaits delivery in a stable? How does this tie in to God’s plan (Mic. 5:2)?
What does this story say about God’s control of Political affairs and “closed doors”?
How did God take your “hopeless situation” and use it for good? What does that teach you?
What impresses you about Joseph and Mary in this account?
Why do you suppose the Savior of the world was born in an obscure village and laid in a manger?
Why do you think God chose to announce the birth of His Son to shepherds?
Do you think Mary and Joseph understood the cosmic significance of the child they had just brought into the world?
Pick at random a score of great saints whose lives and testimonies are widely known. Let them be Bible characters or well-known Christians of post-biblical times. You will be struck instantly with the fact that the saints were not alike. Sometimes the unlikenesses were so great as to be positively glaring. How different, for example, was Moses from Isaiah; how different, for example, was Moses from Isaiah. The differences are as wide as human life itself – differences of race, nationality, education, temperament, habit and personal qualities. Yet they all walked, each in his day, upon a high road of spiritual living faar above the common way.
Their differences must have been incidental and in the eyes of God of no significance. In some vital quality they must have been alike. What was it?
I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them Godward. Without attempting anything like a profound analysis, I shall say simply that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing, they did something about it (day by day). They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response. They were not disobedient to the heavenly vision. As David put it neatly, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord , will I seek” (Ps. 27:8).
(From The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer)
In the life of Jesus Christ, we learn the important lesson that seeking God and being obedient to him is far more important than all of the human abilities we may acquire. If you want to be used by God, what do you see as the source of your potential success? Are you relying too heavily on your human abilities or doubting because of your human weaknesses? Remember, only God’s power can make us useful for service in his kingdom, and then we are successful.
The Herod Family
The man who was King of Palestine when Jesus was born was commonly called Herod the Great. he wasn’t Roman. He was a national governor appointed by the Romans. Herod, like the tax-collectors, was someone who sympathized with Roman imperialism. He stood to make personal gain from the political situation. Therefore, he was just another traitor to his people like the tax-collectors.
Because of his success in stopping rebellions and putting down anti-Roman uprisings, Herod the Great was given a reward. The Romans gave him authority over all five Jewish Provinces.
However, although Herod the Great wasn’t Roman, neither was he purely Jewish. He was a descendant of Abraham, but he wasn’t of David’s family.
Because he was hated by the Jews as an Intruder, Herod the Great did everything possible to “buy” popularity. He built them a magnificent Temple in Jerusalem, made of marble and gold.
How many years did it take to construct this marvelous temple? Read John 2:20.
Herod didn’t only build the temple in Jerusalem for the Jews to worship the one true God. He built another temple for the Samaritans. He even built temples for the pagan gods (the Roman idols). Because of this, the Jews were not fooled by Herod, they were well aware of the true motives for his generosity.
The hands of Herod the Great dripped with the blood of many murders. He even killed people in his own family, including his wife and several of his sons. His victims were strangled, hanged, burned, knifed and tortured. There was a saying in those times which went: “Better to be a pig than a son of Herod.”
What terrible act did Herod the Great commit during Jesus’ infancy? Read Matthew 2:16.
When Herod the Great died, his five provinces were divided between several of his sons: Archelaus, the Tetrarch, Philip.
The Tetrarch governed Galilee and Perea. Archelaus governed Judea and Samaria. Philip governed Iturea.
Only two of the Gospels Matthew and Luke tell the infancy of Christ. Read Luke 2:15-16, what does it cover?
Read Matthew 2:1, 10 and 11, what does it cover?
Luke tells us that all the countries of the world, including Palestine, were subjected to a Census, or an official count and survey of population. Who decreed this Census of the whole Roman world, including Palestine?
What was the name of the Caesar in Rome who decreed this census for all the countries in his empire? Read Luke 2:11.
Each citizen, according to the law of the census had to be in the city of his ancestors to fill in the census. Read Luke 2:4.
Because a great number of people had come to the small town of Bethlehem for the census, Mary and Joseph couldn’t find a place to stay. For this reason Christ was born in a stable. This same night the shepherds come to see the child in the manger. The shepherds were simple Jewish people who looked after sheep.
The law of Moses required that Jewish women not leave their house for 33 days of purification after the birth of a child. After those 33 days of purification where did Jesus family have to go, according to Luke 2:22?
(Matthew 2:13) Immediately after the visit of the wise men, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him to take his family and run to .
It is obvious, then, that the two events given above took place between the visit of the wise men to Bethlehem. We can see that the visit of the wise men must have taken place at least a month later.
God continued to reveal his Son, but not to those we might expect. Luke records that Jesus birth was announced to Shepherds in the fields. These may have been the shepherds who supplied the lambs for the temple sacrifices that were performed for the forgiveness of sin. Here the angels invited these shepherds to greet the Lamb of God (John 1:36), who would take away the sins of the whole world forever.
What a birth announcement! The shepherds were terrified, but their fear turned to joy as the angels announced the Messiahs birth. First the shepherds ran to see the baby; then they spread the word. Jesus is your Messiah, your Savior. Do you look forward to meeting him in prayer and in his Word each day? Have you discovered a Lord so wonderful that you can’t help sharing your joy with your friends?
The greatest event in history had just happened! The Messiah had been born. For ages the Jews had waited for this, and when it finally occurred, the announcement came to humble shepherds. The good news about Jesus is that He comes to all, including the plain and the ordinary. He comes to anyone with a heart humble enough to accept him. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you can have Jesus in your life. Don’t think you need extraordinary qualifications-he accepts you as you are.
Some of the Jews were waiting for a savior to deliver them from Roman rule, others hoped the Christ (Messiah) would deliver them from physical ailments. But Jesus, while healing their illness and establishing a spiritual kingdom, delivered them from sin. His work is more far-reaching than anyone could imagine. Christ paid the price for sin and opened the way to peace with God. He offers us more than temporary political or physical changes-he offers us new hearts that will last for eternity.
The story of Jesus’ birth resounds with music that has inspired composers for 2,000 years. The angel’s song is an all-time favorite. Often called the Gloria after its first word in the Latin translation, it is the basis of modern choral works, traditional Christmas carols, and ancient liturgical chants.
Good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people – Luke 2:10
Jesus takes anybody. Jesus will give them love and laughter with the most precious people in his world and hope they get the message that His message is about people.
Lord, thank You for coming into the world in a way all of us can take into our hearts and make our own.
Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. – Luke 2:11
Give some relevant gifts (e.g. Christmas ornaments, small Nativity figures, a short booklet of devotions, a figure of the Baby Jesus)
Jesus help me to see your glory and presence in unlikely places. Father, prepare my heart for the gift of Your Son.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God…. – Luke 2:13
So with all of our heart let us join in heaven’s eternal song:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among all people.
Then the shepherds went back again to their fields… praising God for the visit of the angels, and because they had seen the child…. – Luke 2:20
You don’t need talent or creativity or more money to serve/celebrate Jesus. You need only Him. And if you can add someone to spend time with, lounging on a winter’s afternoon, it will be a fine day.
Jesus, help me to remember it’s You I’m celebrating and serving. Dear God, let me savor every day as though it were Christmas.
How does the shepherds experience with the angels compare to that of Zechariah (1:8-9) and Mary (1:26-27).
Of all the people the angels could have visited, why did God send them to the shepherds? How does that relate to Mary’s song (1:46-55)?
How might Mary ponder the events of Luke 1-2 (really her story)?
God appeared to Zechariah, Mary, and the shepherds when they were just doing their jobs, being themselves. What does that imply about what it means to be “spiritual?” How has God spoken to you in the ordinary flow of life?
Other people didn’t hear the angels. Why? How can you be open to God’s serendipity in your life?
It is true that there are great possibilities for failure [when taking risks] and, if you fail, there will be those who will mock you. But mockers are not important. Those who like to point when the risk-takers stumble don’t count.. The criticisms of those who sit back, observe, and offer smug suggestions can be discounted. The Promised Land belongs to the person who takes the risks, whose face is marred with dust and sweat, who strives valiantly while daring everything, who may err and fall, but who has done his or her best. This person’s place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
Oh, if only I could persuade timid souls I meet to listen to that inner voice of the Spirit, which challenges us to attempt great things for God and expect great things from God. Oh, if only I could inspire them to heed that inner urging that tells them “Go for it!” I cannot say what a person should do with life, but I can say what a person should not do with it. No one should devote one’s life to safety, to a course of action that offers no challenge and no service.
(From Who Switched the Price Tags? by Tony Campolo)
Step out and take a risk to fulfill God’s plan for you. God protects us as we take intelligent risks to accomplish his will. Be encouraged to take risks for the sake of others. God honors those who follow his call to risk-taking and service. Seek his peace and “go for it”!
Jesus is presented in the temple
Read Luke 2:21-40
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, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.”
Simeon knows about waiting. God promised Simeon that he would not die before seeing the Messiah. He is a devout man, living in Jerusalem, and God has filled him with the Holy Spirit so he will recognize the Savior. Here he is, worshiping in the temple when in walk these new parents with a little baby boy, prepared to be circumcised according to the custom of the Law. What joy must have flooded him that day as he took the baby Jesus into his arms! He held the baby and sang a song of praise to God, saying, “My eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people” (Luke 2:30-31).
Simeon also gave an interesting prophecy: The name of Jesus will reveal the thoughts of the heart. Indeed it does! Some people praise His name, others are not moved by Jesus, and some well up with anger at the mention of Jesus’ name.
Try this today. Ask someone you don’t know, “What do you think of Jesus?” Perhaps their response will give you an opportunity to share your hope in Jesus.
Father, reveal my heart to those who live in darkness and ignorance of Your glory.
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. – Luke 2:32
Think about how the light of Christ shines bright in our lives no matter what the circumstances.
Heavenly Father, light my candles, help me to spread the light of Your Son Jesus Christ into a few dark corners.
How has Christ brought “light” to your life? How is he still the cause of “the falling and rising” of people throughout the world?
How did your parents dedicate you to the Lord, if at all? How do you feel about the fact that you were or weren’t dedicated? How did your parents help you mature spiritually?
Jewish families went through several ceremonies soon after a baby’s birth: (1) Circumcision. Every boy was circumcised and named on the eight day after birth (Leviticus 12:3; Luke 1:59, 60). Circumcision symbolized the Jews separation from Gentiles and their unique relationship with God. (2) Redemption of the first born. A first born son was presented to God one month after birth (Exodus 13:2, 11-16; Numbers 18:15, 16). The ceremony included buying back-“redeeming”-the child from God through an offering. Thus the parents acknowledged that the child belonged to God, who done has the power to give life. (3). Purification of the mothers. For 40 days after the birth of a son and 80 days after the birth of a daughter, the mother was ceremonially unclean and could not enter the temple. At the end of her time of separation, the parents were to bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a dove or pigeon for a sin offering. The priest would sacrifice these animals and declare her to be clean. If a lamb was too expensive, the parents could bring a second dove or pigeon instead. This is what Mary and Joseph did.
Jesus was God’s Son, but his family carried out these ceremonies according to God’s law. Jesus was not born above the law instead he fulfilled it perfectly.
When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to be consecrated to God, they met an old man who told them what their child would become. Simeon could die in peace because he had seen the Messiah.
The Jews were well acquainted with the Old Testament prophecies that spoke of the Messiah’s blessings to their nation. They did not always give equal attention to the prophecies saying that he would bring salvation to the entire world, not just the Jews (e.g. Isaiah 49.6). Many thought that Christ had come to save only his own people. Luke made sure his Greek audience understood that Christ had come to save all who believe, Gentiles as well as Jews.
Joseph and Mary “marveled” (were amazed) for three reasons: Simeon said that Jesus was a gift from God; Simeon recognized Jesus as the Messiah; and Simeon said Jesus would be a light to the entire world. This was at least the second time that Mary had been greeted with a prophecy about her son, the first time was when Elizabeth welcomed her as the mother of her Lord (1:42-45).
Simeon prophesized that Jesus would have a paradoxical effect on Israel. Some would fall because of him (see Isaiah 8:14, 15), while others would rise (see Malachi 4:2). With Jesus there would be no neutral ground: people would either joyfully accept him or totally reject him. As Jesus’ mother Mary would be grieved by the widespread rejection be would face. This is the first note of sorrow in Luke’s Gospel.
Although Simeon and Anna were very old, they had never lost their hope that they would see the Messiah. Led by the Holy Spirit, they were among the first to bear witness to Jesus. In the Jewish culture, elders (were respected, so because of Simeon’s and Anna’s age, their prophecies carried extra weight. Our society, however, values youthfulness over wisdom, and potential contributions by the elderly are often ignored. As Christians, we should reverse those values wherever we can. Encourage older people to share their wisdom and experience. Listen carefully when they speak. Offer them your friendships and help them find ways to continue to serve God.
Anna was called a prophetess, indicating that she was unusually close to God. Prophetess, indicating that she was unusually close to God. Prophets did not necessarily predict the future. Their main role was to speak for God, proclaiming his truth.
Did Mary and Joseph return immediately to Nazareth, or did they remain in Bethlehem for a time (as implied in Matthew 2)? Apparently there is a gap of several years between verses 38 and 39 – ample time for them to find a place to live in Bethlehem, flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath, and return to Nazareth when it was safe to do so.
Jesus was filled with wisdom which is not surprising since he stayed in close contact with his heavenly Father, James 1:5 says God gives wisdom generously to all who ask. Like Jesus we can grow in wisdom by walking with God.
How open are you to God’s will for your life at the moment?
What would be the crowning joy for you in your old age?
Do you think God has a plan and purpose for your life?
Do you think the parents of Jesus understood what was going to happen to their son?
Put yourself in Joseph and Mary’s shoes. How would you have felt if two old people came to you and gave startling predictions about your son.?
In Simeons prophecy about the child, what was he predicting?
When has God brought along a “Simeon” and “Anna” to confirm something in your life? How did this make you feel?
What Mosaic laws are being fulfilled by this presentation (see Lev. 12:1-8; Ex. 13:2, 12, 13; Num. 18:15-16)? How do these events parallel Jesus’ mission? What does his name mean?
What does this temple ceremony reveal about the parents of Jesus: They were poor? Religious? Proud? Dedicated? Fearful of their salvation?
In Simeon’s two prophecies (vv. 29-32, 34-35), what was he predicting about the work of Jesus? The fate of the nations? The pain of his parents?
Know anyone like dear old saintly Anna? How does she complement Simeon’s prophecy?
What impact would these startling predictions by Simeon and Anna have on all who were listening that day? Of the parents of Jesus as they returned home (vv. 33, 39)? On Jesus as he was growing up (v.40)?
In summary what did you learn about Mary and Joseph in this passage? About Jesus? About God?
BIO:Walter Lewis Wilson
Walter L. Wilson was born May 27, 1881, in Aurora, Indiana,
son of a Methodist minister. He was “the preacher” whenever
neighborhood children played church, and later held evangel-
istic street meetings at the age of 16. After medical train-
ing, he began practice as a physician in Webb City, Missouri,
in 1904. Everywhere he went, he told people how Jesus Christ
could transform their lives. Soul-winning characterized his
life, and he used every possible tool to accomplish it.
A pioneer in radio, he initiated his own program in
1924. He founded and for 40 years pastored Calvary Bible
Church in Kansas City; founded and served as president of
present-day Calvary Bible College; wrote 22 books; and trav-
eled widely as a conference speaker.
He died May 24, 1969, but his heart pulse lives on.
“The blessed privilege of winning souls for Christ is most
interesting, profitable, and eternally blessed.”