The Boy In The Temple

Every year Joseph & Mary went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival (41).

pilgrims-to-jerusalem

When Jesus was twelve years old, they went on this trip as usual. When the festival was over they started back home to Nazareth, but the boy Jesus stayed in Jerusalem. Joseph & Mary thought that Jesus was with relatives or friends traveling in their caravan.  But when they started looking for Jesus they didn’t find him, so they went back to Jerusalem to look for him there.

After three days they finally found their son in the temple, sitting with the Jewish teachers, listening carefully to them and, in response, asking them quite complex questions.  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his wisdom.

jm_200_NT1.pd-P6.tiff

Joseph & Mary were astonished when they found Jesus, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been terribly worried trying to find you.”

The-Finding-Of-The-Saviour-In-The-Temple-300x188

Jesus answered them, “Why did you look for me in other places? Didn’t you realize that I must be here, in my father’s house?” Although Mary & Joseph didn’t really comprehend the full meaning of his answer, Mary treasured all these things in her heart & pondered them often.

Then Jesus went back with them to Nazareth, where he lived in willing & obedient submission to his parents. Jesus continued to grow, both in body and in wisdom, gaining favor with God & admiration among men.

Perfect Father, please help me to love serving You among Your people.

(41) Luke 2:41-52

The Long Way Round

After the wise men had left (39), God’s angel appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Herod intends to kill your baby. You must get up, take Jesus & Mary & escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.”  Obediently, Joseph got up, took the child & his wife, and left during the night for Egypt — where the family stayed until Herod the Great had died.

egypt

Meanwhile, when Herod realized that the visitors from the East had tricked him, he was enraged. In a furious effort to kill Jesus, and based on what he had learned from the wise men, Herod gave orders to kill all baby boys in the area of Bethlehem who were younger than 2 years old. (Sadly, this fulfilled what the prophet Jeremiah had said long before: “A sound is heard in Ramah, the sound of bitter weeping; Rachel is crying & refuses to be comforted, because her children are dead.”)

After Herod the Great had died, God’s angel appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take Jesus & Mary, and go back to the land of Israel, because those who tried to kill the child are dead.”(This would fulfill the word given by God about Jesus to one of the prophets long before : “I called my son out of Egypt.”)

So Joseph got up, took his child & his wife, and went back to Israel. But, when Joseph heard that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Judea, he was afraid to go into southern Israel. After receiving more direction in another dream, Joseph went instead back to the province of Galilee in northern Israel, and made his home in the town named Nazareth. (And so, what another prophet had said of Jesus also came true: “He will be called a Nazarene.”)

nazareth

To summarize what happened after the birth of Jesus (40): When Joseph and Mary had finished doing all that was required by the law of God, the Holy Spirit eventually returned them to their hometown of Nazareth in Galilee. Their child, Jesus, grew & became strong; he was full of wisdom, and God’s blessings were upon him.

Guiding God, please help me to love being guided by You, wherever You may lead.

(39) Matthew 2:13-23

(40) Luke 2:39-40

Wise Men

Soon after Jesus was born (37), wise men came from the East to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the baby who has been born to become the king of the Jews? We saw his bright star when it came up in the East, so we have come to worship him.”

wisemen journey

When King Herod heard about this, he was concerned, and so was everyone else in Jerusalem. Herod assembled the chief priests and teachers of the law and he asked them, “Where will the Messiah be born?” They said the Messiah would be born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, just as a Jewish prophet had written: “Bethlehem, though you are a small town, you are very important to God.  From you will come a leader who will guide my people Israel.”

Herod then met secretly with the visitors from the East and learned the exact time the star had appeared. Herod sent them on to Bethlehem saying: “Search for the child; when you find him, let me know, so that I may also go & worship him.”

The wise men then left Jerusalem and continued to follow the bright star they had first seen in the East. They were very happy that the star was still leading them.  When the star stopped over the place where the child was, they went inside.

Wise Men

Seeing the child with his mother Mary, they knelt down & worshiped him. They brought out gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh, and presented them to Jesus (38).

Afterwards, they returned to their country in the East.  But they went back a different way, because God had warned them in a dream not to return to King Herod in Jerusalem.

Sovereign God, please help me to love giving up myself for Your service & glory.

(37) Matthew 2:1-12

(38) Though the wise men may not have realized it, their gifts signified that Jesus had come to serve all people:

  • As king, to rule over every part of our lives;
  • As priest, to keep us connected to God; and
  • As savior, to bear all the punishment our sins deserve.

Dedicated To God

About 40 days after the birth of Jesus, it was time for Joseph and Mary to perform the ceremony of purification, as prescribed in the Law of Moses (35).  So they took their baby to Jerusalem to present him to God & to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God — because God’s law says: “Every first-born male is to be dedicated to God.”

At that time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, God-fearing man who was waiting for the promised salvation of Israel. The Holy Spirit of God had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the promised Messiah. Led by the Spirit, Simeon had also come into the temple that day.

When Joseph & Mary brought Jesus into the temple, Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God:

Simeon

“Lord, you have kept your promise, and now you can let your servant depart this earthly life in peace. With my own eyes I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all people — a light to reveal your will to the Gentiles (36) and to bring glory to your people Israel.”

Joseph & Mary were amazed at the things Simeon was saying about Jesus.  Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, “This child has been sent by God to the people of Israel — for the salvation of some and the destruction of others. Many people will reject him, breaking your heart as if pierced by a sword.”

Mary.Jesus.Cross

A prophet named Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher, was also there in the temple that day. She had been married for only seven years before her husband had died; now she was a widow past 80 years of age.  Anna was in the temple day & night, worshiping God, fasting & praying.  On this day, Anna gave thanks to God and spoke about Jesus to all who were waiting for God to set Jerusalem free.

Rescuing God, please help me to love Your Rescuing Son.

(35) Luke 2:22-38

(36) The Jews often thought of people in two categories: Jews & Gentiles.  Gentiles were simply non-Jews.

Shepherds

In the fields near Bethlehem, there were some shepherds spending the night, taking care of their flocks (34).

shepherds

Suddenly, an angel of God appeared to them, and the glory of God was shining all around them! They were terrified, but the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all people. Today, in David’s town, your Savior was born — Jesus the Christ! You will know this is true when you find the baby wrapped snugly & lying in a feeding trough.”

Then a great army of angels appeared in the night sky, singing praises to God! “Glory to God in heaven, and peace to his people on earth!”

Shepherds

When the angels had gone, the shepherds said to one another, “We have to go to Bethlehem & see this!” So they hurried to Bethlehem, and they found Mary & Joseph, and they saw the baby lying in the feeding trough.

manger

The shepherds told Joseph & Mary what the angel had said about the child.  Mary didn’t understand it all, but she didn’t dismiss it either.  Instead, she kept all these things in her heart & thought of them often.

The shepherds went back to their flocks, praising God for all they had heard & seen.  Everything had happened just as the angel had told them it would.  As the news spread, people were amazed at the shepherds’ claim that Jesus was the Messiah whom God had promised in the inspired Jewish scriptures!

A week later, when the time came for the baby to be circumcised, he was named Jesus, the very name which the angel had given for him, before Mary became pregnant.

Glorious God, please help me to love thanking You every day for sending Jesus.

(34) Luke 2:8-21

Birth Of Jesus

While Mary & Joseph were still engaged to be married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit, as the angel had told her (31).

Joseph didn’t want to disgrace Mary publicly, so he decided to break their engagement privately. But an angel of God appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has become pregnant by the Holy Spirit of God. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus – which means that he will save his people from their sins.”

angel-to-joseph

(This happened according to what God had said about Jesus through Isaiah, one of his prophets, 700 years earlier: “A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Emmanuel” — which means “God is with us”.)

When Joseph woke up, he obeyed God’s angel & married Mary. But they didn’t have sexual relations while she was carrying her son inside her body, the son whom Joseph would name Jesus (32).

Before Jesus was born, the Emperor Augustus had ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire (33). At that time, Quirinius was the governor of Syria, which was the Roman name for the province that included the areas of Galilee & Judea. Every resident had to register with the census-takers in his own hometown.  So Joseph had to walk from the town of Nazareth in Galilee about 70 miles to the little town of Bethlehem in Judea.

Bethlehem

Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David; Joseph went there because he was descended from David.  Joseph took Mary with him, since they were engaged to be married.

While they were in Bethlehem to register for the census, Mary gave birth to her son.  Because there was no room for the couple to stay in the inn, Jesus was born in the stable out back.

Nativity

Mary wrapped her baby snugly & placed him in a cradle — improvised from a trough used for feeding the animals.

Supreme God, please help me to love seeing You in Jesus.

(31) Matthew 1:18-25

(32) Four men wrote accounts of the life & ministry of Jesus; they were Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.  Matthew includes a list of ancestors of Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus, going back to Abraham.   Luke also includes a list of ancestors of Jesus, going back to Adam; some people think Luke lists ancestors of Mary.

(33) Luke 2:1-7

Birth Of John The Baptizer

About the same time, Elizabeth gave birth to her son (29). Her neighbors and relatives heard how God had been good to her, and they all rejoiced with her.

When the baby was a week old, they came to dedicate him to God.  Some family members & friends wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. But Elizabeth said, “No, his name will be John.” They said to her, “But you don’t have any relative with that name!”

Then they made signs to his father, asking him what name he would like the boy to have. Zechariah asked for a slate and wrote, “His name is John” — which astonished everyone there. Suddenly, Zechariah was able to speak again, and he started praising God. Now everyone was even more astonished!

zechariah

Then Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he spoke this message from God: “Let us praise God! He has come to help his people and to set us free. He has provided for us a mighty Savior, a descendant of his servant David.

“He promised through the prophets long ago that he would save us from all who hate us. He promised our ancestor Abraham that he would show mercy to us & rescue us from our enemies.  Now, he wants us to serve him without fear, and to be holy & righteous before him all the days of our lives.”

Baptist birth

To the baby John, Zechariah said: “You, my child, will be called a prophet of God. You will go ahead of the Messiah (30)– to prepare the way for him, to tell his people that they will be saved by having their sins forgiven.

“Our God is merciful and tender. He will cause the light of salvation to dawn upon us, to shine from heaven on all those who live in the dark shadow of death, and to guide our steps into the path of peace.”

The news about these things spread through the hill country of Judea. Everyone who heard of it wondered, “What sort of life will this child have?” For it was plain that God’s power was upon him.

The child grew and developed in body and spirit. He lived in the desert until the day when he appeared publicly to the people of Israel — as John the Baptizer.

Guiding God, please help me to love following You.

(29) Luke 1:57-80

(30) In the inspired Jewish scriptures, Jesus is usually referred to as the Messiah.  In the inspired Christian scriptures, Jesus is usually referred to as the Christ.  These Hebrew & Greek words simply mean that Jesus is the Savior; he came to save us from our sinful selves.