The one part of the life of Jesus that most people have some familiarity with is his birth (though some things traditionally believed are not found in scripture). What sometimes is lost in the remembrance of the facts are the lessons we can learn from the facts. The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke contain more than information. They brim with application.
- The announcement to Mary (Luke 1:26-56).
- Gabriel visits Mary, a virgin from an insignificant town in northern Palestine. He tells her that she will give birth to the Messiah, “the Son of the Highest” (32).
- Mary visits Elizabeth, who is awaiting the birth of John the Baptist. When Elizabeth hears the salutation of Mary, she pays respect to Mary and John “leaps for joy” in Elizabeth’s womb (41, 44).
- Mary breaks forth in praise and thanksgiving (46-55).
- The announcement to Joseph (Matt. 1:18-25).
- Joseph and Mary were “betrothed” to each other (18). This was a legally binding arrangement, though no sexual intimacy was allowed prior to the actual marriage ceremony.
- When Joseph learns that Mary is expecting, he contemplates putting her away quietly, no doubt thinking that she had been unfaithful (19).
- While planning the divorce, an angel appears to him and explains what is happening (20-23). Joseph accepted the angel’s word and remained faithful to Mary (24-25).
- The birth (Luke 2:1-39; Matt. 2:1-23).
- Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem to be taxed. While there Mary gives birth to Jesus and lays him in a feeding trough. Following his birth, angels announce it to some nearby shepherds.
- At the appropriate time, Jesus is circumcised and presented at the temple. While there, Simeon and Anna make great statements of faith and praise.
- Then the wise men come to visit Jesus – in “the house,” not a barn (Matt. 2:11). Not long after that, the murderous decree is made by Herod in an attempt to have Jesus killed.
- Joseph, Mary, and Jesus flee to Egypt and stay there until after Herod’s death.
- God has always had a special part for women to play in his Kingdom (Matt. 1:3, 5, 6).
- The character Joseph serves as an example to follow. He was industrious (Matt. 13:55), respectful of civil law (Luke 2:1-4), respectful of God’s word (Luke 2:22-23; Matt. 1:24; 2:19-23), morally pure (Matt. 1:18, 21), and kind (Matt. 1:19).
- The character of Mary serves as an example to follow. She was one who trusted in divine revelation (Luke 1:38, 45), morally pure (Luke 1:27, 34), knew the scriptures (Luke 1:54-55), reverenced God (Luke 1:46-55), and was a deep thinker (Luke 1:29; 2:19, 51).
Simeon and Anna are wonderful examples of growing old gracefully (Luke 2:25-38). They looked forward to a positive future. They trusted God’s promises. They focused on Jesus.