The Birth of Jesus
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. – Luke 2:1-3
Luke starts off the story of Jesus’ birth after carefully citing the census of the ancient Roman empire and the governor of Syria. Throughout his book, Luke mentions significant historical events that help give a time frame to his narrative.
We all know the familiar Christmas story of how Joseph and Mary had to travel about hundred miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, right when Mary was close to her due date. After enduring the long journey and arriving in Bethlehem, they find out that all the rooms are booked. All they could find is a stable where Mary goes into labor. Not quite the circumstances in which one would imagine the Messiah being born.
Imagine the state of mind of the young couple. They have been assured by the angel of the Lord that they had been chosen to raise the Saviour of the world, yet they had to face immense difficulties during the time of our Lord’s birth. Never expect smooth sailing when you decide to do the will of God. Trials and tribulations will try to derail our journey.
The birth of the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for centuries was not witnessed by the Pharisees, Prophets or even Kings of Israel and Judea. Instead, ordinary shepherds grazing their flocks that fateful night, had the privilege to witness the birth of Jesus. Such is the manner in which our Lord chose to come into this world. In a simple town and in an unglamorous manger the Messiah chose to come into this world. The birth of a son of an earthly King is celebrated throughout the Land by his officials and peasants alike. But no one other than ordinary shepherds celebrated our Lord’s Birth.
Jesus Presented in the Temple
“‘When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest … a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a dove for a sin offering… But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves. – Leviticus 12:6-8
When the time came for the purification rites, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord and to offer a pair of doves. Their offerings tell us that Jesus was being raised in a poor household. Another fact that the Pharisees would later use to reject Jesus as the Messiah.
In Jerusalem, Simeon and Anna both blessed the family of Jesus, and Joseph and Mary marveled at what was said about him. They gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. This was another sign of assurance for Mary that indeed she was in the presence of the Lord.
“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. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” – Luke 2:34-35
Jesus brought a message so radical claiming salvation was not dependent on family lines or acts of individuals but by rather putting their trust on him. At times even Jesus’ own family could not accept his message and called him mad. (Mark 3:21)
The Boy Jesus at the Temple
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth but would return to Jerusalem every year for the festival of Passover.
On one such trip when Jesus was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem but while returning, realized that Jesus was not with them. They found Jesus three days later in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:48-49
They did not understand what Jesus meant by his statement. But after this incident, we read that he went back with his parents and was obedient to them. There is no other information about the Life of Jesus from the ages of thirteen to thirty. So its safe to assume that such incidents did not happen again. Even Jesus submitted to the authorities, whether it be his parents or the Pharisees and teachers of the law with whom he might have disagreed. He patiently waited for his time as determined by God.
- Why is the story of Magis and the infanticide ordered by Herod the Great not included by Luke?
- Why did Jesus take such a humble path to come to this earth?
- Did the shepherds not go and testify to what they had seen? Then why was there no one at the manger of the Messiah?
- Why did it take so long for Joseph and Mary to realize that Jesus was not with them?