LINK: Luke 2
In this chapter, we see God using the great and powerful Caesar to accomplish his own plan. Caesar Augustus required that all of his subjects register in a census. In order to obey this decree, Joseph had to go to Bethlehem to register. Mary went with him and gave birth to Jesus while they were in Bethlehem. This fulfilled the prophecy that a great ruler, the Eternal One, would be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2-3 says, "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. Therefore, He will give them up until the time when she who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren will return to the sons of Israel." What a great demonstration of God's sovereignty!
Angels from heaven announced the birth of Jesus the night he was born. But to whom did they make their announcement? To the scribes? The priests? The Pharisees? No, they didn't tell the religious leaders; they made their announcement to simple, lowly shepherds out in the fields. God doesn't focus on the wealthy and powerful like we do. Rather, his message went straight to plain, ordinary men.
The shepherds had to see this great event!! They believed the angels, they went into town to see the baby, and they returned to the fields "glorifying and praising God" for all they had seen and heard that night. They were very excited!
When Jesus was taken to the temple to be circumcised on the eighth day, two others were excited to see him. Simeon had been promised by God that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes. Because Simeon listened to the Holy Spirit speaking to his spirit, he knew who Jesus was as soon as he saw him. Simeon declared Jesus to be salvation, for both Israel and the Gentiles. The prophetess Anna was also close in her relationship to the Lord, and she gave thanks to God for this baby and told everyone around that this baby was the redemption of Israel. Once again, it is not the priests and religious leaders who recognize this child. But Jesus was clearly recognized by a man and a woman who had a close relationship with God.
Fast forward about twelve years when Mary and Joseph took their family to Jerusalem for the annual Passover celebration. They lost track of Jesus, and when they found him, he told them that he had to be in his father's house. They didn't really understand at the time what he was talking about. But Jesus demonstrated his role as a servant by being obedient to his parents.
Twice in the chapter, Luke mentions that Mary "treasured all these things in her heart." Once when the shepherds visited (vs 19) and again when Mary found Jesus in the temple (vs 51). I suspect Luke researched this part of his book by interviewing Mary.
So, who was this baby? Angels announced his arrival. (That doesn't happen with most births!) Shepherds got pretty excited about his birth and had to see for themselves. Simeon and Anna made a point of speaking to his parents and others in the temple about him. He amazed the adults who heard him asking questions of the teachers in the temple. As he grew to adulthood, he grew in wisdom as well, and he also grew in favor with both God and men. He was definitely a unique individual. But he was so much more than that!
Look at what was said about Jesus in this chapter.
- by the angels in verses 10-14
- by Simeon in verses 29-35
- by Anna in verse 38
Lord God, thank you for revealing your son to us, to the lowly and poor. Thank you for your work in the hearts of Simeon and Anna and for revealing Jesus to them. And we praise you that your Holy Spirit confirms in our hearts that Jesus is the one who came to redeem us from sin and give us eternal life. Amen.