In the previous chapter we learn of our Lord’s conception. In Verses 1-7 of Chapter 2 we are told of the circumstances surrounding the birth, and the actual birth itself.
While Caesar Augustus was demonstrating his sovereign superiority over the Greek-Roman world, in reality he was really a puppet in the hand of God to further the divine program. The decree of Augustus brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem at exactly the right time for the Messiah’s birth.
When Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem it was crowded despite the urgent need and emergency the only place they could find was the stable of an Inn. While there Mary brought forth her first-born son, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger. Verse 7. Thus God visited our planet in the form of a helpless Baby, in indescribable poverty, in an ill-smelling stable. He began His life in a manger, and ended it on a cross, and in between He had no where to lay His head.
The first announcement of this unique birth was not given to the religious leaders in Jerusalem. It was given to shepherds who were watching their sheep. Verses 9-10. These men were informed that a Baby had been born in nearby Bethlehem who was the Savior - Christ - Lord. Verse 11.
Verse 13. It was one angel who announced the birth, but heaven’s pent up ecstasy could no longer be restrained. A multitude of angels appeared, praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men with whom He is well pleased.” Verse 14. The men in whom God is pleased are those who repent of their sin and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Verses 15-20 As soon as the angels departed, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem and found, as the angels had said, the Babe lying in a manger. They then returned to their flocks glorifying and praising God.
Verses 21-24 The circumcision and dedication of Jesus. Three different rituals are described in this passage.
1. First there was the circumcision when Jesus was 8 days old. On this same day Jesus was named according to Jewish custom.
2. The second ceremony was concerned with Mary’s purification. This took place 40 days after the birth of Jesus.
3. Then there was the presentation of Jesus to the Lord. At this time parents who could afford it were asked to bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtle dove for a sin offering. Mary brought no lamb, but only two young pigeons, a reflection of the poverty into which Jesus was born.
Verses 25-35 Simeon’s adoration and prophecy.
Simeon was a wonderful man. He was righteous – devout - waiting for the Messiah. The Holy Spirit was upon him. Verse 25. It was also revealed to Him by the Spirit that he should not die until he saw the Lord’s Christ - Anointed. He was led by the Spirit to the temple. Verse 27. He took Jesus into his arms, worshipped God, and said: Verses 29-32.
Simeon was prepared to die after he had met the Lord. Simeon then spoke to Mary. Verses 34-35. Anna the prophetess like Simeon was waiting for the Messiah. She was a member of the faithful remnant of Israel. She was over 100 years old. Having been married for 7 years and widowed for 84 years. Notice her character and her work. She was faithful in her attendance at the Temples public services. She served God - she fasted and prayed day and night. Anna came into the Temple as Simeon was speaking to Mary.
She also gave thanks to the Lord - then she witnessed to those in Jerusalem, telling them about Jesus.
The early years of Jesus are described in verses 40-52. The normal growth of the Lord is set forth in verse 40.
· Physically - He grew and became strong.
· Mentally - He was filled with wisdom.
· Spiritually - the favor of God was upon Him.
Matthew gives us a few more details of His childhood. The visit of the wise men - The flight into Egypt - Herod’s slaughter of the children - finally the return from Egypt.
At the age of twelve Jesus emerges from 12 years of seclusion to visit His Father’s house in Jerusalem.
Verse 57 is a classic, it should be studied by all believers. The moral excellence of Jesus is seen in the words - “He was subject unto them.” Though the Creator of the universe, He took His place as an obedient child in this humble Jewish family.
In Verse 52 we have the true humanity and normal growth of our Lord depicted.
· His mental growth - He increased in wisdom.
· His physical growth - He increased in stature.
· His spiritual growth - He increased in favor with God.
· His social growth - He increased in favor with man.
· He was absolutely perfect in every aspect of His growth.
At this point, Luke does not mention the eighteen silent years which the Lord spent in Nazareth as the Son of a carpenter. These years teach us the importance of preparation and training. They warn of the temptation to jump from spiritual birth to public ministry.