Through the Bible Day by Day
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
THE SAVIOR OF MANKIND IS BORN
The manger bed and its precious occupant are among the most cherished memories of our childhood; but as we come there in later life, the wonder ever grows. “Great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh,” 1Ti_3:16.
What company we meet there! Shepherds with their naive wonder; angels from the realms of glory; wise men with their gifts; aged saints like Simeon and Anna, Surely the desire of all nations is here! Let us ask that the Lord of glory will condescend to be born in the mean stable of our heart, transforming it into a palace!
Notice how, to bring Mary to Bethlehem, the Master of all emperors sets on foot the machinery of providence and history. What can He not do for us and His Church!
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
WELCOMED; NAMED; PRESENTED
From April till the autumn the flocks pastured at night in the open fields, from which it seems probable that our Lord must have been born earlier or later than December. No doubt these shepherds were, like Simeon, “waiting for the consolation of Israel,” and their purity of life and simplicity of soul well qualified them to receive the blessed tidings of the angels. First simplicity and afterward science, Mat_2:1-23, found their way into the presence of Jesus.
In the act of circumcision, our Lord admitted His obligation to fulfill the whole Law, Gal_5:3. He was “made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law,” Gal_4:4-5. Mary could afford only the gift of the poor, Lev_12:6-8; Lev_5:7-11; 2Co_8:9. The precious name of Jesus-Savior-is the name above every name, Act_4:10-12.
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
THE AGED SIMEON’S PROPHETIC BLESSING
Two aged watchers welcomed the King; but no one else, of all the crowds who went and came, guessed that the Messenger of the Covenant had suddenly come to His Temple, Mal_3:1-3.
In the Arctic Circle in summer the visitor will behold the magnificent spectacle, on the same sky, of the hues of sunset and of dawn. Dipping only for a brief period beneath the horizon, the setting sun leaves the glorious trail of sunset, and rising, bathes the eastern clouds with the radiance of dawn. So, when Simeon embraced Christ, sunset and sunrise met. There was the glory of the age that was passing, and the glory of the new Christian age that shall ever stand at perfect noon.
Note the concentric circles of Simeon’s character: a man; a man in Jerusalem-i.e., a Jew; righteous toward his fellows; devout toward God; looking; Spirit-anointed; to whom it was revealed; Christ in his arms. What more could be said?
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
THE BOY JESUS IN THE TEMPLE
“Solitary floweret,” says Stier, referring to this incident, “gathered from the wonderful enclosed garden of the thirty years and plucked precisely when the swollen bud, at the age of twelve years, was about to burst into flower.”
The incident is specially valuable as indicating so perfect an understanding between our Lord and His mother. He wondered that, knowing Him as she did, she could have lost Him, or should have failed to seek Him in His Father’s house. The stress is on Wist ye not? Here, however, He seemed to pass into a new attitude toward His life-work. May we not say that He caught sight of its absorbing character, to which all else must be subordinated?
Let us never suppose that we are in the company of Jesus, when, in fact, we may have lost Him. Never rest till you and He have found each other!