Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thoughts on Luke 2 (Birth of Jesus, Presentation at the Temple)

This chapter has the Christmas story.  You know the one.  Joseph and his family have returned to Bethlehem because of the census.  There is no room at the inns, so they stayed in a stable.  Jesus was born and placed in a manger.  An angel appears to the shepherds and tells them that Messiah has been born.  The heavenly host join the angel glorifying God.  After they go to heaven, the shepherds decide to go and see Messiah.  They HURRIED off to go see him.  The shepherds then spread the word about what had been told to them.  Mary treasured and pondered these things.  The shepherds went home glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard.

I love the sense of urgency in the shepherds.  I like to think that if I was given the same kind of good news that they were given, I too would have an urgency to do something with it.  If it was a sight to see, I would want to rush right off and see it.  Then, I'd want to tell everyone what I have seen and heard.

Why is that we will quickly tell friends about a new movie, a new song, a new restaurant, or a new store, but we hesitate to tell them about our savior.  Things don't matter.  People matter.  Their eternal souls matter.  We have been given this treasure from heaven.  That's worth telling your friends about!

Now, Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple to be consecrated.  The Law of Moses required every firstborn male to be consecrated to the Lord and that a sacrifice should be made.  While they're there, a man called Simeon was waiting.  The Spirit had told him that he would see the Messiah before he died.  He was led by the Spirit to be at the Temple Courts.  He held Jesus in his arms.  He acknowledged Jesus as Messiah and knew that he would be a light to all the nations.  He prophecies the great things that would happen in Jesus' life, to the amazement of Mary and Joseph.  While they were there, Anna, a prophet, came up to them thanking God and told everyone looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem about the child.

From there, we are told that the child grew and became strong and wise. The grace of God was on him.

Wow! Imagine you are taking your child to church one Sunday and complete strangers come up to you and tell you that your son is going to do great things.  A man says he can die now that he has seen your son.  He tells you that your child will change the world. A woman, a prophet, tells people that everyone who has been waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem need not wait any longer because your son is here!  Wow!

People already know that Jesus is here.  They know he has come to do great things!  Even as a baby, he was the Famous One!

The next time we see Jesus, he is twelve years old and in Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.  His parents leave and don't realize that Jesus isn't with them (families traveled in big caravans).  When they realize he's missing, they go back and search frantically.  Finally, they find him at the Temple, asking the teachers questions and listening carefully.  They are amazed and Mary and Joseph are, of course, frantic, but relieved parents.  He left with them and was obedient to them.  The Bible tells us he grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man.

You know, I'm not surprised that Jesus was astonishing people in the Temple when he was only twelve. In my time working with fifth and sixth grade students, I have been part of some pretty incredible conversations.  Students at that age are curious about their faith.  They have a hunger for the Word.  They are trying to reconcile everything they have been taught with everything they have experienced.  It leads to some amazingly deep conversations.  I cannot imagine how much more profound it must have been to have Jesus, the Son of God, talking about God with me.  Thankfully, I don't have to imagine it.  I can do it.  You can too!

In prayer, we have a way to talk directly to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and to God.  He listens to us.  He hears are prayers.  When we ask for more of God, we get more of Him!  When we ask Him to teach us more about Himself, you better believe He will do it!  Our God is amazing!  Take some time today to reach out to God!

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