Jesus is born. Angels and shepherds arrive. Jesus is presented in the temple. Simeon and Anna meet him. Twelve-year old Jesus stays in the temple.
VERSE 1. Now in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.
all the world. That was a regional term. Doubtless they did NOT enroll people of distant lands such as China or South America.
VERSE 2. This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
VERSE 3. All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city.
VERSE 4. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David’s city, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David;
VERSE 5. to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant.
VERSE 6. While they were there, the day had come for her to give birth.
VERSE 7. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in the inn.
a feeding trough. Most translations say “manger.”
Artists usually portray the birth of the Messiah in a shelter surrounded by pine trees. Or in a cave. But the text only tells us he was laid in a feeding trough.
VERSE 8. There were shepherds in the same country staying in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock.
VERSE 9. Behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
VERSE 10. The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people.
Christ the Lord. This would have been amazing news!
VERSE 12. This is the sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough.”
VERSE 13. Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, and saying,
on earth peace. At the time Jesus was born, the Roman Empire had forced a sort of peace onto the world. It wasn’t “peace” really. It was more like an enforced cease-fire.
However, Jesus changes all that. He is our Prince of Peace:
Isaiah 9:6. For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
VERSE 15. When the angels went away from them into the sky, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem, now, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
VERSE 16. They came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby was lying in the feeding trough.
with haste. This was urgent. They went quickly.
How urgent are spiritual concerns for you?
VERSE 17. When they saw it, they publicized widely the saying which was spoken to them about this child.
VERSE 18. All who heard it wondered at the things which were spoken to them by the shepherds.
pondering them in her heart. These spiritual matters were important to Mary. She considered them again and again.
VERSE 20. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told them.
VERSE 21. When eight days were fulfilled for the circumcision of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
VERSE 22. When the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord
VERSE 23. (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”),
Exodus 13:2. Sanctify to me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb amongst the children of Israel, both of man and of animal. It is mine.
VERSE 24. and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
Leviticus 12:8. If she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons: the one for a burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering. The priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.
VERSE 25. Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.
Jesus Christ is the comfort of Israel:
2 Corinthians 1:5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, even so our comfort also abounds through Christ.
VERSE 26. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
not see death before. This is an extraordinary promise. He would see the Messiah!
the Lord’s Christ. The words “Christ” (in Greek) and “Messiah” (in Hebrew) both mean “Anointed One.”
VERSE 27. He came in the Spirit into the temple. When the parents brought in the child, Jesus, that they might do concerning him according to the custom of the law,
in the Spirit. What does this mean?
VERSE 28. then he received him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
NLT translation. Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised.
releasing your servant. That is, “let your servant go in peace.” We admire Simeon. The event for which God had called him was taking place. The promise was being fulfilled, right before his very eyes, in real time.
With that, the mission of Simeon’s life was fulfilled. He was ready to pass away.
This reminds us of what Jacob said when he met his son Joseph in Egypt:
Genesis 46:30. Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive.”
VERSE 30. for my eyes have seen your salvation,
before the face of all peoples. That is, “within the sight of all peoples.” It was not a secret.
revelation to the nations. The light of the One God of Israel would extend to the Gentiles and to the ends of the world.
The Lord Jesus calls us to take his Gospel to the whole world. Here are the key Bible verses about this »
VERSE 33. Joseph and his mother were marveling at the things which were spoken concerning him,
VERSE 34. and Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against.
VERSE 35. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
a sword will pierce through your own soul. What was this sword? Most people interpret it to mean the sword of sorrow. Mary would face great sorrows in her life as she beholds the mission of the Redeemer in the life of her Son.
VERSE 36. There was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher (she was of a great age, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity,
Anna, a prophetess. The Old Testament names five female prophets. And the New Testament mentions two.
The Bible and the Jewish tradition and early Christians accepted female prophets:
VERSE 37. and she had been a widow for about eighty-four years), who didn’t depart from the temple, worshiping with fastings and petitions night and day.
didn’t depart from the temple. We admire Anna. We admire her heart for God. Even at age 84, her heart is ablaze with love for God. She is a spiritual bonfire that others gather around to keep warm.
Many Christians have dedicated a special time of day when they pray. But the Bible calls us to pray continually. Read more »
VERSE 38. Coming up at that very hour, she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of him to all those who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem.
VERSE 39. When they had accomplished all things that were according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.
VERSE 40. The child was growing, and was becoming strong in spirit, being filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
strong in spirit. Young Jesus became spiritually strong.
VERSE 41. His parents went every year to Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover.
VERSE 42. When he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast,
twelve years old. It was the time for his Bar-Mizpah.
VERSE 43. and when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. Joseph and his mother didn’t know it,
VERSE 44. but supposing him to be in the company, they went a day’s journey, and they looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances.
VERSE 45. When they didn’t find him, they returned to Jerusalem, looking for him.
VERSE 46. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the middle of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions.
VERSE 47. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
VERSE 48. When they saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us this way? Behold, your father and I were anxiously looking for you.”
VERSE 49. He said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
VERSE 50. They didn’t understand the saying which he spoke to them.
VERSE 51. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth. He was subject to them, and his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
VERSE 52. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.