This chapter, which spans twelve years, begins with the beautifully simple story of the birth of Jesus. Having made their way to Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph did not find a desirable place for their special baby to be born. If we are careful not to romanticize their situation, we will conclude that Jesus was likely born in a dirty place, He was laid in a trough where livestock ate, and His first breath burned with the odor of animal waste. Fitting, wasn’t it? Because Jesus came to a messed-up, hurting world to make things better.
No baby ever had a birth announcement like Jesus. First one, then a multitude of shining extraterrestrials told a group of shepherds where to find Him, then shouted their praise to God. When the shepherds found the baby Jesus, they couldn’t contain their excitement. They told everyone about Him. Oh, how I wish we could recapture that evangelistic enthusiasm!
Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer the prescribed sacrifices for a first-born son. While in the Temple, they met two godly senior adults who both had a special interest in Jesus.
Simeon had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would live to see the Messiah with his own eyes. When he saw Jesus, he immediately knew His true identity. Scooping the baby up in his arms, Simeon pronounced a beautiful blessing, and then turned to Mary and prophesied the opposition Jesus would face — and how her own heart would be broken by His suffering.
Anna, a godly widow who had devoted her life to serving the Lord, also recognized that Mary’s baby was “the redemption of Jerusalem,” a Messianic title drawn from Isaiah 52:9.
The little family returned to Nazareth, “their own town” (v.39). Verse 40 gives us the only information we have about the next dozen years of Jesus’ life. He learned to walk and talk and play. In many ways Jesus was a typical child, but He had no sin nature and no character flaws (imagine that, parents!). And He certainly had uncommon wisdom for His age.
This was evident when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to His first Passover in Jerusalem. When they could not find Jesus on the trip back to Nazareth, they returned to Jerusalem and found Him in the Temple. At only twelve years old, Jesus was holding His own with the great rabbis of Judaism, amazing them with His wisdom.
An exasperated Mary asked Jesus to explain His behavior, and His answer went completely over their heads (v.50). He was in His Father’s house — God’s house. Jesus knew who He was and why He was born, even at the age of twelve. And that is the last thing we hear from Jesus for the next 18 years. We pick up there tomorrow.
Mary “treasured up all these things in her heart” (v.51). She did not completely understand her Son, but she tried to process it all. One day it would all be clear. One day her Son would become her Savior.