What happened at Bethlehem?
But Jesus, as we know, was born in Bethlehem, not Nazareth. You might look at The Birth of Jesus to see why this was so.
There is no need to retell the well-known story of what happened when Joseph at length reached Bethlehem. The inn was full. The best they could get was a stable, a rough shelter for beasts.
There Jesus was born.
Meanwhile, in one of the valleys close by (Bethlehem lies on a hill) the shepherds heard the angels’ message, and were given the strange sign by which they were to recognise him who had been foretold as ‘wonderful cousellor, God the mighty’ (Isaiah 9:6) – an infant wrapped in swaddling bands and laid in a manger.
‘They came with haste, and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.’
Joseph & Mary respected the Law
Luke’s gospel tells us that Mary stored up in her heart all she saw and heard on that night.
We can suppose that the same was true of Joseph.
What did Joseph do?
Eight days later he exercised the authority of a father: he circumcised the child, and gave him his name.
When forty days had passed Mary and Joseph travelled the six miles northward to Jerusalem to carry out a twofold prescription of the law.
The first-born male child of every Jewish family belonged to God, and had to be bought back with five shekels.
What did Mary do?
On the same occasion the mother underwent legal purification and offered a lamb. Those who could not afford a lamb, however, offered two doves instead.
Mary and Joseph came like other pious Jews to carry out what the law prescribed.
Here’s a thought…
- the first time Jesus visited Jerusalem it was so that he himself might he redeemed with five pieces of silver, but
- the last time he came it was to redeem us, ‘not with corruptible things as gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Christ.’ (1 Peter 1, 18-19.)
Presentation in the Jerusalem Temple
The Family, John Dickson Batten
We learn from this portion of the Gospel that Joseph was a poor man, for Mary made the offering of the poor.
Luke’s gospel tells the story of what followed: how Simeon
- saw the little group and
- took the child in his arms,
- blessing God that he had lived to see with his own eyes him who was to be the Saviour of all peoples and and the glory of Israel.
Then, while Mary and Joseph were filled with astonishment at his words, he turned to them and blessed them, as well he might; if he was so highly favored in seeing the Promised One, how blessed was the family into which this Promised One had been born!