The Birth of Jesus Christ
Now it happened that in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus to register all the empire. (This first registration took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to be registered, each one to his own town. So 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 family line of David, to be registered together with Mary, who was legally promised in marriage to him and was pregnant. And it happened that while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
And there were shepherds in the same region, living out of doors and keeping watch, guarding over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord stood near them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring good news to you of great joy which will be for all the people: that today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. And this will be the sign for you: you will find the baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace
among people with whom he is pleased!”
And it happened that when the angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds began to say to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has revealed to us!” And they went hurrying and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. And when they saw it, they made known the statement that had been told to them about this child. And all who heard it were astonished concerning what had been said to them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured up all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.
And when eight days were completed so that he could be circumcised, he was named Jesus, his name that he was called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple
And when the days of their purification were completed according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb will be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what was stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
The Prophecy of Simeon
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he would see the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus so that they could do for him according to what was customary under the law, he took him in his arms and praised God and said,
“Now dismiss your slave in peace, Lord,
according to your word.
For my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all the peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and mother were astonished at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed—and a sword will pierce your own soul also, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed!”
The Testimony of Anna
And 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 after her marriage, and herself as a widow up to eighty-four years) who did not depart from the temple with fastings and prayers, serving night and day. And at that same hour she approached and began to give thanks to God, and to speak about him to all those who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
And when they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child was growing and becoming strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.
Jesus in the Temple at Twelve Years Old
And his parents went every year to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to the custom of the feast. And after the days were completed, while they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. And his parents did not know it, but believing him to be in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. And they began searching for him among their relatives and their acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. And it happened that after three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting in the midst of the teachers and listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his insight and his answers. And when they saw him, they were astounded and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you done this to us? Look, your father and I have been searching for you anxiously!” And he said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that it was necessary for me to be in the house of my Father?” And they did not understand the statement that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was submitting to them. And his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus was advancing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and with people.
Questions for Reflection:
- In the “The Praise and Prophecy of Zechariah” section, how does God show mercy to Israel and the world? What goal or purpose does God have in mind for man’s salvation?
- How does God’s mercy reveal His glory?
- Think about Jesus’ response to His earthly parents when they found Him in the temple. How does that help us keep His mission in perspective as we begin reading through His life on earth? What does Mary’s response – treasuring “these things in her heart” – teach us about how spectacular Jesus truly was?