November 15th, 2006
If you spend too much time out in the fields with the sheep you’re unlikely to develop into the sharpest tool in the kit. There’s only so much wisdom you can acquire from staring deeply into the eyes of a sheep. Occasionally you might have to deal with a wild dog or another type of predator, but the rest of the time it’s just one sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four sheep… Hardly a rivetting experience. So how do you react when something completely out of the ordinary happens, when the heavens open up and a choir of angels puts on a virtuoso performance just for you?
Luke’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 2
2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus ordered a census of the entire Roman world. 2:2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 2:3 Everyone went to his or her own town to register. 2:4 Joseph went from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, in Judea, because he was a descendant of David, 2:5 to register himself with Mary his fiancée, who was pregnant.
2:6 While they were there the time came for her baby to be born. 2:7 She gave birth to her first child, a son, and she wrapped him in a baby blanket and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 2:8 Some shepherds were camping in the fields in the area, keeping a night watch over their flock. 2:9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 2:10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, because I am here to announce a great joy for all people. 2:11 This very day in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. 2:12 This is how you will recognise him: you will find a baby wrapped in a baby blanket, lying in a manger.” 2:13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, and saying, 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heavens, and on earth peace to his favoured people.”
2:15 The angels left them and ascended into heaven, and the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem now to see this event which the Lord has told us about.” 2:16 They hurried to find Mary and Joseph, with the baby lying in the manger. 2:17 After seeing this, they spread the news about what the angels had told them concerning the child, 2:18 and everyone who heard it was amazed at the shepherds’ story, 2:19 but Mary filed all these stories away in her mind and contemplated them in her heart. 2:20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for everything that they had heard and seen, just as the angel had predicted.
2:21 Eight days later the child was circumcised and given the name Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived. 2:22 When the days of purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. 2:23 The law of the Lord specifies, “Every first-born son shall be called holy to the Lord”, 2:24 so they offered a sacrifice as required in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
2:25 There was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, a righteous and devout man, who was waiting for the person who would rescue Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 2:26 The Holy Spirit had promised that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 2:27 The Spirit brought him into the temple at the same time as the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do the things required by the law. 2:28 He took the child in his arms and blessed God, saying,
2:29 “Now you are releasing your servant in peace, Lord, according to your promise. 2:30 My eyes have seen your salvation, 2:31 whom you have prepared to be seen by all peoples, 2:32 a light to reveal God to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.”
2:33 Joseph and his mother were amazed at the things which were said about him, 2:34 and Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, “This child will cause many people in Israel to rise or fall, and many will speak against what he stands for, 2:35 so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And a sword will also be plunged through your own soul.”
2:36 There was a prophetess Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having been married for seven years, 2:37 and then been a widow for about eighty-four years, and she never left the temple, worshipping, fasting and praying night and day. 2:38 She came up to them just at that moment and gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of the child to everyone who was waiting for Jerusalem to be rescued.
2:39 When they had finished all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned to their own town, Nazareth in Galilee. 2:40 The child grew, and became strong. He was full of wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. 2:41 His parents went every year to Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover.
2:42 When he was twelve years old, they went to the feast as usual, 2:43 and when it had finished and they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. Joseph and his mother were unaware of this, 2:44 thinking he was somewhere in the group, and they went a day’s journey before making a search for him among their relatives and acquaintances. 2:45 When they found out that he was missing, they returned to look for him in Jerusalem. 2:46 Three days later they found him in the temple, sitting amongst the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 2:47 All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 2:48 His parents were astonished to see him, and his mother said, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I were searching frantically for you.”
2:49 He replied, “Why did you need to search? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 2:50 They did not understand the things he was saying to them. 2:51 He went home with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them. But his mother filed all these things away in her mind. 2:52 Jesus increased in wisdom and maturity, and in favour with God and men.
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