Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mary Gives Birth to Jesus

The Birth of Jesus

Luke 2

1At that time, Augustus Caesar sent an order that all people in the countries
under Roman rule must list their names in a register. 2This was the first
registration; it was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went
to their own towns to be registered.

4So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of
Bethlehem in Judea, known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he
was from the family of David. 5Joseph registered with Mary, to whom he was
engaged and who was now pregnant. 6While they were in Bethlehem, the time
came for Mary to have the baby, 7and she gave birth to her first son. Because
there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth
and laid him in a box where animals are fed.

Shepherds Hear About Jesus

8That night, some shepherds were in the fields nearby watching their sheep.
9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord was shining
around them, and they became very frightened. 10The angel said to them, “Do not
be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people.
11Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord. 12This
is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and
lying in a feeding box.”

13Then a very large group of angels from heaven joined the first angel,
praising God and saying:

14“Give glory to God in heaven,

and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God.”

15When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to
each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened which
the Lord has told us about.”

16So the shepherds went quickly and found Mary and Joseph and the baby,
who was lying in a feeding box. 17When they had seen him, they told what the
angels had said about this child. 18Everyone was amazed at what the shepherds
said to them. 19But Mary treasured these things and continued to think about
them. 20Then the shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking
him for everything they had seen and heard. It had been just as the angel had told

21When the baby was eight days old, he was circumcised and was named
Jesus, the name given by the angel before the baby began to grow inside Mary.

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple

22When the time came for Mary and Joseph to do what the law of Moses
taught about being made pure, they took Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to
the Lord. 23(It is written in the law of the Lord: “Every firstborn male shall be
given to the Lord.”) 24Mary and Joseph also went to offer a sacrifice, as the law
of the Lord says: “You must sacrifice two doves or two young pigeons.”

Simeon Sees Jesus

25In Jerusalem lived a man named Simeon who was a good man and godly.
He was waiting for the time when God would take away Israel’s sorrow, and the
Holy Spirit was in him. 26Simeon had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would
not die before he saw the Christ promised by the Lord. 27The Spirit led Simeon to
the Temple. When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple to do
what the law said they must do, 28Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked

29“Now, Lord, you can let me, your servant,

die in peace as you said.

30With my own eyes I have seen your salvation,

31which you prepared before all people.

32It is a light for the non-Jewish people to see

and an honor for your people, the Israelites.”

33Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what Simeon had said about him.
34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, “God has chosen this child to
cause the fall and rise of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God that many
people will not accept 35so that the thoughts of many will be made known. And
the things that will happen will make your heart sad, too.”

Anna Sees Jesus

36There was a prophetess, Anna, from the family of Phanuel in the tribe of
Asher. Anna was very old. She had once been married for seven years. 37Then
her husband died, and she was a widow for eighty-four years. Anna never left the
Temple but worshiped God, going without food and praying day and night.
38Standing there at that time, she thanked God and spoke about Jesus to all who
were waiting for God to free Jerusalem.

Joseph and Mary Return Home

39When Joseph and Mary had done everything the law of the Lord
commanded, they went home to Nazareth, their own town in Galilee. 40The little
child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s goodness
was upon him.

Jesus As a Boy

41Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. 42When
he was twelve years old, they went to the feast as they always did. 43After the
feast days were over, they started home. The boy Jesus stayed behind in
Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44Thinking that Jesus was with them in
the group, they traveled for a whole day. Then they began to look for him among
their family and friends. 45When they did not find him, they went back to
Jerusalem to look for him there. 46After three days they found Jesus sitting in the
Temple with the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47All who
heard him were amazed at his understanding and answers. 48When Jesus’ parents
saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why did you do
this to us? Your father and I were very worried about you and have been looking
for you.”

49Jesus said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I
must be in my Father’s house?”
50But they did not understand the meaning of
what he said.

51Jesus went with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them. But his mother
kept in her mind all that had happened. 52Jesus became wiser and grew
physically. People liked him, and he pleased God.

The Holy Bible, New Century Version

Matthew tells us that when Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant, he considered a private divorce. Joseph was sensitive and fair. Although he must have been hurt by Mary’s supposed unfaithfulness, Joseph was not vindictive. A quiet, private voiding of the marriage contract into which he had entered with Mary’s father might offer Mary some protection from gossip and proscription. Joseph was also a man of faith. When an angel told Joseph that Mary had not been unfaithful, Joseph listened and went ahead with the wedding.

Joseph gave no thought to his personal reputation or the fact that the community might conclude that he and Mary had had sexual relations before the marriage. Joseph loved and trusted God and was willing to obey Him. In this vital quality, Joseph and Mary despite any disparity in age, were well matched.

So many events marked Jesus as special in Mary’s mind. There was the angel’s visit. The miraculous pregnancy. Joseph’s confirmation of his confidence of her virgin state. When Jesus was born, shepherds appeared with their tale of angels celebrating in Bethlehem’s skies. Luke 2:19 states that “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Two months later, Mary and Joseph went to temple for her purification and Jesus’ presentation to the Lord. The aged Simeon and the prophetess Anna recognized the infant Jesus as the promised Messiah. Certainly Mary and Joseph remembered the angel’s words to them. Yet the Bible says that “Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him” (Luke 2:33).

Some two years later the wise men found the little family, still in Bethlehem, and not only brought Him gifts but also worshiped Him. Guided by angels, Joseph took Mary and Jesus first to Egypt, and then back to Nazareth. During these early years there were many reminders that Jesus was a special child indeed.

Even as a young girl Mary showed herself to have a great faith. Her response to God was immediate and selfless, and her words of praise reveal an appealing simplicity. Quite possibly no other Bible person so clearly displays the truth of Augustine’s observation: love God, and do as you please. Mary did love God, and what pleased her was to do God’s will.

At the same time Mary was human. As her family grew, Mary loved her husband and mothered her boys and girls. She must have thought often of the strange events that marked her oldest, Jesus, as special. Yet she mothered Him as she did the others, and He submitted to her parental authority. Mary’s days were filled with the typical task of first-century housewives: grinding grain, cooking meals, weaving cloth, directing her children’s activities, talking with her husband. In this she was indistinguishable from other women in her village. She was undoubtedly known as warm and friendly; Jesus Himself during these years seemed no different than others.

When Jesus began His public ministry, Mary seems to have been puzzled. She was as amazed as others were at His teaching and healings. Knowing her innate humility, we can be sure Mary never postured or bragged of being the mother of the Man all Israel was talking about. In the end, after Jesus rose and His identity as God’s Son was no longer in any doubt, Mary took her place with the others who believed in Him. And that place was on her knees.

Here, as in every glimpse of Mary that Scripture provides, we see her as a model believer. The Mary of Scripture is an exemplar of faith in God. Mary is a sister in Christ to be admired, appreciated, and honored. Mary is a woman whose example all are privileged to follow.

(From Every Woman in the Bible by Sue and Larry Richards).

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