Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.[c]
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant[e] depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that 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 his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.[f] She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents[g] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?”[h] 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature[i] and in favor with God and man.
a. Luke 2:2 Or This was the registration before
b. Luke 2:5 That is, one legally pledged to be married
c. Luke 2:7 Or guest room
d. Luke 2:14 Some manuscripts peace, good will among men
e. Luke 2:29 Or bondservant
f. Luke 2:37 Or as a widow for eighty-four years
g. Luke 2:48 Greek they
h. Luke 2:49 Or about my Father's business
i. Luke 2:52 Or years
This is from the easy English site.
Bethlehem, which means ‘house of bread’, was about 6 miles (10 kilometres) from Jerusalem. It was about three days’ journey for Joseph and Mary from Nazareth. It would have been a rough journey for Mary in her state.
There seems to be no need for Mary to be there. Joseph could register for the family. She was also a descendant of David. Perhaps for that reason she had to register. But God arranged it this way so that the Christ would be born there. The prophet Micah said that this would be so. He spoke about 700 years earlier. He said, ‘But you, Bethlehem, are a very small town. You are so small among Judah’s families. But out of you, a man will come who is for me. He will be the ruler over Israel. His origin was a long time ago in the past. It was in an ancient time’ (Micah 5:2).
By the time that Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, there was no room for them. There is a tradition that Jesus was born in a stable. A stable is a place where people keep animals. That could be right. But it is also possible that Jesus was born in a poor home. In the poorest homes, people and animals lived together, in the same room.
When a child was born, Jewish women would wash it with water. Then they would rub it with salt and they would wrap it in cloths (Ezekiel 16:4). It seems that Mary did this for the baby Jesus. There may have been nobody there to help her. Therefore, Mary had to do these things herself. Then she laid the baby in a box. Usually, animals ate from that box. But that was the only place where she could put her baby to sleep.
Shepherds kept their sheep in the open fields near Bethlehem from about April to November. They may have kept the sheep in the fields later than this if the weather was not too cold. They had to guard their sheep from wild animals and from thieves. So, the shepherds watched in turn through the night to protect their sheep.
Suddenly, light replaced the darkness of the night. An angel appeared and with him the glory of the Lord came. This sight frightened the shepherds. The angel told them about the birth of the Saviour. This is the good news that would give great joy to all people. The Saviour is the Christ the Lord. And he told them how they would recognise the baby Jesus.
The angels said, ‘Let there be peace on earth.’ We were all enemies of God because of our sins. But in Jesus, we can have peace with God. In other words, we have a right relationship with God. In Jesus, God’s enemies become his children.
The angels left the shepherds. The shepherds did not doubt the truth of the angel’s words. They left their sheep and they went to find Jesus. They did not delay but they went quickly. It seems that they knew Bethlehem well. They had to look for a baby, with cloths round it, which was in a box for animal food. And they soon found Mary, Joseph and the baby. Everything was as the angel had told them. They saw the Christ who would save his people from their sins.
The shepherds told everyone what the angel had said about the baby. Probably the angel said a lot more to them than we have in this record. What they said astonished all who heard them.
Every first son belonged to the Lord. The parents had to pay money to the Lord for the first son when he was a month old. This was to buy back the boy. The fee was 5 shekels (Numbers 18:15-16)
In Jewish law, a woman became unclean on the birth of her child because of the blood. The mother was unclean for 40 days after the birth if the baby was a boy (Leviticus 12:4). To be unclean meant that the woman could not go to the temple. And she could not join with other people as they worshipped God. At the end of this period, the woman had to bring a sacrifice to the Lord. This sacrifice was a lamb, with a dove or pigeon. If she could not afford a lamb, she would bring two doves or two young pigeons (Leviticus 12:6-8).
So, at the proper time, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Lord. They brought the sacrifices to make Mary clean. Mary and Joseph were not wealthy and they could not afford to bring a lamb. So, they brought either two doves or two young pigeons.
Simeon, the servant of the Lord, was now ready to die. His ambition had been to see the Christ. Now with his own eyes, he had seen him whom God had sent. He had only seen a baby, but by faith, he saw the Saviour. He had seen Jesus who would save his people from their sins.
Asher was one of the 10 tribes of Israel that Assyria removed from the country called Israel. Some people from those tribes had remained in Israel. Many people from these tribes joined with Judah during the rule of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:1-11). Anna belonged to the tribe of Asher.
Anna had been married for 7 years but her husband had died. For many years, she had been a widow. At this time, she was 84 years old. And she was praying in the temple every day.
When Mary and Joseph had come into the temple, Anna came to them. Maybe she was there as Simeon took Jesus in his arms. She saw the baby Jesus. She knew that he was the Christ. She praised God. She spoke about Jesus to those people who waited for God to send the Christ.
At the end of the feast, Mary and Joseph began the three day journey back to Nazareth. They went with a group of relatives and friends. They thought that Jesus would be with friends in the group. Often men and women walked in separate groups. Joseph may have thought that Jesus was with Mary. And Mary may have thought that Jesus was with Joseph. However, at the end of the day, they could not find him. They did not know that Jesus had remained in Jerusalem.
Mary and Joseph supposed that Jesus was still in Jerusalem. They were so worried that they hurried back there. After three days, or on the third day, they found Jesus. The first day was the journey from Jerusalem. The second day was the journey back to Jerusalem. On the third day, or the day after, they found Jesus.
Jesus was in the temple with the teachers of religion. He listened to them and he asked them questions. Also, they asked him questions. At the age of 12 years, he astonished the people with his knowledge.
Mary and Joseph had not expected to find Jesus with the famous teachers. The way that people respected him astonished them. But Mary expressed the worry that she and Joseph had felt. She asked Jesus why he had done this to them.
Jesus went home with Mary and Joseph. He was God’s son but he was also the son of Mary. So, he obeyed his human parents. Mary remembered all that had happened. And she thought much about these events.
Jesus grew into the perfect man. God was pleased with him and all the people respected him.
There is a lot of information in this chapter. I think I'm sticking with the Mary part of this. She was a twelve or thirteen year old. I was thinking about this yesterday. I think our sensitivities would have us believe that Mary was Joseph's only wife. I was wondering about that yesterday... thinking of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Did Zechariah have children with other wives? I recall.... King Solomon had 300 wives. Women were breeding stock back then. I wonder.... did Mary and Elizabeth, the virgin and the way past time to produce woman, share their husbands with other women who would give their husbands male heirs to tend sheep, muck stalls, load the boxes with food and bring in the crops?
The commentary says Mary didn't have to go with Joseph to Bethlehem. She had to ride a donkey for three days.... nine months pregnant. I can tell you.... I never rode a donkey.... but sitting for hours on a rocking animal would have been no picnic for her. Was Joseph watching over her or counting her as valuable property?
Three days shows up a lot in this chapter. I notice that it's not a group of three 24 hour days.... but part of one day, a whole day, and part of another day..... that can make up three days.
The "now I can die" people..... would have freaked me out. Can you imagine? In today's world.... Mary would have been taking her baby to church for the first time. [I wonder.... what would have been whispered about her marital status]...... and there were people there who would have walked up to any new baby and said.... "isn't that a beautiful baby.... now I have seen everything". They didn't call Him beautiful.... but they did say they had been waiting a really long time for Him to come along.... and they were glad the wait was over.
I can only imagine what it must have been like for that little girl, Mary. She had a baby even though she hadn't been with a man. Strange lights appeared in the sky that sent total strangers looking for her baby in a box. By the time He was twelve..... legally a man..... she would have been just 24 or 25 years old with a teenage son.... who was amazing the priests because He was so bright.
The Bible says Jesus submitted to His human parents. The baby in the box grew up to be a good man..... honoring His ignorant human parents.
I wonder.... was Jesus there when God designed and created His human mother?