What we can be thankful for.
As they were in the temple with Simeon, Mary and Joseph met another one who had been waiting for years for this moment.
Luke 2:36-38 [ Anna the prophetess was also there, She was by now a very old women. She had been married seven years, and a widow for 84. She never left the temple area, worshiping night and day with her fasting and prayers.
At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.]
Anna becomes the more important character in the cast of characters. She was married at a young age, we can assume since her husband passed away after seven years. (which is a biblical number)
Then it says she was a widow for 84 years so like Simeon she was very old.
She had waited patiently for the messiah to come. Week after week,.
The patience and trust it took for her to wait and know and believe.
Every time a young couple would come with their baby she would wonder. Is this the one? When she saw Simeon and his reaction she KNEW.
How exciting and how final for her. Did that mean she could leave the temple? we are not told that. All we know is God orchestrated each character to tell the story.
A baby would be born in and HE would be the Messiah. Luke 2:19
What we begin to understand in the story of baby Jesus; he was not an ordinary baby and this was no ordinary birth. As they learned to be parents I believe they were learning to love each other along with this little child. In Luke 2:21 it tells us that they had to go to the temple and name him and he would also be consecrated as the scripture recorded. It was a formal gathering and on that particular day it was extremely special. [Luke 2:25-32
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.]
I am sure when Mary and Joseph headed to the Temple they had no idea scripture would be fulfilled again. God set it up for Simeon to see him, (again seeing with our eyes). He had waited all his life for this moment and because he was in tune to the spirit HE KNEW this was the one. What we begin to understand over and over is the orchestration of God. It had to happen at the right time, for the right reason, with the right people, so scripture could be fulfilled.
What we can learn from the story is obedience changes lives.
When we read about the sheepherders we have to understand they were marginalized people.
Not overly accepted in the towns because of appearance and their dirty jobs.
The majority of people in the villages had nothing to do with them.
They were rough and rugged and very little would terrify them.
We are not told what the angel looked like when it was standing next to them around the fire.
I would imagine it was startling to see someone there.
The sky brilliantly showing choirs of angels and light had to have been startling for them too.
They knew the skies they had seen them every night, but this night was different for them.
I find it interesting the angels sang in the language of the sheepherders; so they could hear and understand the words that were spoken.
What would it have been like to see the angel choir come from heaven and then go back?
When they decided to ‘go see’ this baby born in the manger; we are told they ran as fast as they could.
Now we have to remember, they would never leave their sheep. It was never an option to leave them unprotected, yet we are told that’s what they did.
What can we learn from these rough and rowdy men? They had a deep desire to go see for themselves.
They left to go see Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus. Seeing, made them believe and then they became credible witnesses declaring what they saw to everyone in the town.
They spoke with impressionable language and believable attitudes and for the first time others were impressed by them. They had value.
The verse said, [all were impressed] not some, but everyone.
They were sort of like the first missionaries declaring the truth of what they had experienced.
What we can learn from the story is the life changing ability of little baby who is the Savior.
They were marginalized men whose only purpose was to tend to sheep and then they became truth tellers.
Transforming them as their life altering experience took place.
It is all a part of the miracle.
What we can see with our eyes, and believe in our hearts, the road to the stable and delivery was long and hard.
As Mary remembered what had taken place; the Angel Gabriel telling her news that would alter the direction of her life forever.
You can imagine her exhaustion and sadness, for she had left her family and being great with child and weary from traveling.
I am also sure she was overwhelmed with the thought of this little baby boy being someone very special.
Just as the baby that Elizabeth had delivered.
As they rested she probably thought back on the conversations she had shared with Elizabeth and Zachariah.
She remembered how Elizabeth’s baby responded as she spoke a word and how powerful it was in the moment.
Remembering also the reaction of Elizabeth when seeing Mary.
We can imagine that this birth was so life changing and so miraculous both Mary and Joseph could barely take it all in. So much had to have been on her heart and mind.
Then to see the angels glorifying the sky with their presence.
The stars looking more bright with the intensity of light.
The next set of characters to arrive on the scene were the shepherds.
Luke tells us: [there were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood.
They had set night watches over the sheep.
Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them.
They were terrified.
The angel said, “don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide.
A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.
This is what you’re to look for; a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises.
Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over.
“Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.”
They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.
Seeing was believing. (This is what we see with our eyes.)
They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child.
All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself.
The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they had been told!]
What we don’t really know about the Christmas story.
Mary went with Joseph on the trip to do the census in the town of Bethlehem.
She didn’t have to go as she was not his wife, and the custom was for families to be counted.
[Luke 2: He went with Mary his fiancée, who was pregnant.}
Our Pastor said there were a few ideas why she went with him.
Joseph was told by the angel to name the baby Jesus and if he had gone without her; the baby might have been born before he returned, and the baby might have been named something else.
The other idea was she was so far along Joseph didn’t feel right about leaving her alone, she he took her with him to be close to her.
Another idea was to protect her, for to be pregnant and not married would cause her to be in great harm.
He was saving her life by taking her with him.
Another idea was he had to follow the direction given for them to have a baby in a manger fulfilling the prophecy written.
[6-7 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn.
She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel there.]
Remember this is in the middle of a census which would mean many rooms would be full and many homes not available. We often remember the part of the story about Joseph going door to door asking for a room and the innkeeper said, “there is no room in the inn.”
We don’t really know if that actually happened.
I also read somewhere that if he was to meet family on his side they might have not accepted her, because of her condition.
What we do know, Mary and Joseph was to have their little baby in a quiet little stable among sheep and cows and the smell of hay.
Maybe after being with Elizabeth Mary knew more of what to expect during labor and delivery, there might not have been anyone to help her other than Joseph.
I’m not sure if they tore the donkey’s blanket and made a swaddling cloth for the baby.
Perhaps they packed a few baby item’s just incase they were needing it.
We are not told about the conversations between them, or the discomfort of Mary while traveling.
Anyone who has ever been pregnant in those late months knows how difficult this journey would be for her.
Whether she walked or rode the donkey we know it was not easy or comfortable for her.
We don’t know many things about this Christmas story but we do know it was supposed to take place.
In the little town of Bethlehem so scripture could be fulfilled.
What we wonder about is the next character introduced to us.
Joseph was older than Mary and he was a carpenter.
He was a descendant of King David so the lineage for Jesus would be right and accurate.
He was an honorable and righteous man. I wonder if he had faith and also what kind of conversations did he have with Mary.
We know she went to see and be with Elizabeth. Perhaps it was a way for Joseph to do some thinking.
I would imagine for him to learn she was expecting and not ever being with a man would be hard for him to understand and grasp. It was also a huge responsibility for both of them in that culture.
It really was a serious issue for her to be with child. He could leave her and she could be stoned to death. Then he had a dream from an angel.
[Matthew 1:18-19 The birth of Jesus took place like this.
His mother Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. Joseph, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.
20-23 While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream.
God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is spirit conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you Joseph, will name him Jesus – God saves -because he will save his people from their sins.
24 Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream.
He married Mary but they did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby.
He named the baby Jesus.]
I wonder how they both handled this life altering experience, not having a lot of time to process or talk about it together. They had to deal with it right away. During this time Elizabeth gave birth to John and then a census was issued for all people to return to their ancestral towns to register.
They had to go from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town to register.
He traveled with Mary who was pregnant.
The journey was not easy as we will soon find out as we continue this story.