Luke 9:23-24 23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
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!”
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when 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, 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.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
This study will be like a two-fold study that will conclude the events of the birth of Jesus and the temple visit first. Then we will look at the details of the trip back to Nazareth which will take us to look deeper in the other Gospels as well to get the entire picture of all of the events of Jesus’ life as a newborn baby and young child. In the next study we will look at Jesus as a 12 year old boy that is engaging in conversation with the religious elite which will conclude the childhood of Jesus and then that will move us into the ministry of John the Baptist in the next chapter. So we are now finishing up the section that we really left off with in our last study. This is where Mary and Joseph had went into the temple to bring a sacrifice according to the law and to present Jesus as prescribed in the law of God. At the temple we have already seen that they met a man named Simeon that spoke both blessings and praise toward God for allowing him to see the Messiah before his own death. Simeon also expressed prophecy in Luke 2:34 that this Child would be 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.”
This revelation of what the Messiah would do while on Earth was not what most Jewish people were looking for. This prophecy showed them that there would be division and those that will oppose Christ which will bring on his parents hardships and trouble as well. But the reality is that this Child would fulfill all of the prophecies that have been spoken of concerning the Messiah.
Now as we move away from that encounter with Simeon there is another person at the temple that we are going to learn about as well. This is what our first point is going to consist of.
1.Anna praises God. Look with me at Luke 2:36-38And 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. 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.
I think we need to start with the obvious question about who Anna is. Here the Bible tells us that she is a prophetess. If you trace the word prophetess throughout the Bible you will see that God does use woman in this role even though it is never a long on going ministry. Most of the time you will find that the woman prophet was used for a short time or even just in a teaching kind of moment. We have no indication that Anna had some kind of ministry where she taught or spoke some kind of new revelation so I think for us to apply that to her would do the Scripture an injustice. We simply see that she was a prophetess maybe in situations like this where she would speak the truth about what God was doing. Remember woman in this time were not teachers of the law, they were not listened to as teachers nor would she have been approved by most people as a person that had an ongoing ministry. I say this to show that she was not placed as a teacher in the temple but was recognized as a person that was speaking truth from what God was doing at this time. This is the role she had in being a prophetess. I believe this makes the case of how God does in fact use woman in proclaiming the good news without the official office as a teacher of the law or a preacher in our time.
To get an idea of who she is the Scripture further tells us that she is 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. First we notice that she is from the tribe of Asher which is one of the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom when Israel split into the northern and southern kingdoms. This tribe was one that was taken into captivity and never returned. Here we see a woman that is a true follower of God here in the temple in Jerusalem worshipping God. This means that indeed after so many years that some of the people from these tribes that were taken into captivity are now truly following God. Notice that by what we see here that she was married and her husband died after just 7 years of marriage. This would have been tragic but she decides to remain a widow in which we see here that was the case until this very moment.
I want to point out also what the Scripture says next in the remainder portion of verse 37: She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. This is real dedication to the things of God. It is uncertain exactly what all of this means but it seems to indicate that she was given a place to stay around the temple and was nearly a permanent person that was there at any given time. This temple was her home, this was her life and at this very moment everything she had been hoping for and praying for was coming true right before her eyes. She recognized that this baby that Simeon had just prophesied about was the long awaited Messiah. Verse 38 says 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.
Because of the truth of what she had just heard concerning the praise and prophecy of Simeon she then burst out in a praise of her own telling of the truths of the Messiah and the redemption that God had promised. In fact the word for the phrase began to give thanks is the Greek word anthomologeomai (anth-om-ol-og-eh’-om-ahee) which means to respond in praise. So her thankfulness is simply by the things that she has heard and known concerning the Messiah. This causes here to proclaim the goodness of God for what He was doing for the redemption of His people. Like so many others she too was looking for this Messiah and now is seeing the fulfillment of it even though at her age she would not see Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection. With this thought we conclude the section of what happened in the temple and now moves us to what Mary and Joseph do next as we now look at our next point.
2.The trip to Nazareth. Look with me at Luke 2:39-40And 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. This seems like a simple point but I do want to look at the other Gospel accounts to get the full picture of how it took them a little while to get back to Nazareth. Luke does not give us these details so we will look at Matthew’s gospel to get a better idea of the details of this trip to Nazareth. Neither Mark nor John gives us an account to look into but they both refer to Jesus as Jesus of Nazareth which indicates that this was where he lived. This makes sense because we know this was Joseph and Mary’s hometown before they made the trip to Bethlehem for the registration of the census. Remember they have been in Bethlehem for some time now. They could have been in Bethlehem for several months and even up to 3 to 4 months at this point but we can’t be sure about how long. What we see here in the Scripture is that they now have fulfilled all of the requirements of the law concerning the purification of Mary and the presentation of their first born boy and then they set out to go back to their home town. I believe it is at this time that they have this visit from the wise men that was following the star seen in Matthew 2:10-11When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
I place these events here because of what we see next in Matthew’s account. Look with me at what the Bible says in Matthew 2:13-15Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
I believe this was right as they were going to be heading back to their home that this dream happened. This sent them to Egypt for a period of 2 years or so at least. During this time Herod had every male child killed in the area under the age of 2. Then it is after the death of Herod that they enter back into Israel prompted by the angel and directed back to Nazareth their home town that they had not seen in several years at this point. This we see in Matthew 2:22-23But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.
It seems to me that Joseph and Mary might have been uncertain on their plans as they left Egypt. They may have wanted to go back to Bethlehem but was warned to not go back to that location and instead go back to their hometown of Nazareth. We know that they both were from Bethlehem and had ended up in Nazareth at some point. It may be that they really didn’t want to go back to Nazareth because of the shame of the circumstances surrounding Mary’s conception before being married or maybe there was some other reason but either way there seems to be a different plan that they wanted. But as we always see, God is sovereign and directs them back to Nazareth to fulfill prophecy.
As we conclude this study notice that verse 40 of Luke 2 says And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. This is similar to what Luke said of John the Baptist in the last verse of chapter 1 where he says: And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel. This indicates to us that Jesus, just like any other young boy would grow and learn. Now we will soon find out that Jesus’ knowledge and wisdom was beyond any other boys by the simple fact that He is the Son of God. But with all of that there was still a process of learning and growing in wisdom. This wisdom and learning will be seen in our next study as we look at the 12 year old Jesus and his discussion with the teachers in the temple.