, Muskogee, OK

December 24, 2013

The weeks after Jesus’ birth are fascinating, too

By Barrett Vanlandingham
Fort Faith

— The birth of the Christ child immediately drew the attention and praise of nearby shepherds (Luke 2:8) who visited him in a manger, with Joseph and Mary there. Then, up to 24 months later, Wise Men from the east came to worship and bring gifts to Jesus in a house.  

But what happened in between? Those were not the only significant appearances recorded in the Bible regarding the early days of our Savior. On the eighth day, when the baby was circumcised, Joseph and Mary named him Jesus (Luke 2:21). This was the name the angel had given Him before He was even conceived.

When Jesus was 41 days old, his parents brought him to the temple in Jerusalem to present Him to God, and also to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. The 41 days is how long it took under Jewish law for a woman to be considered purified after giving birth to a son, or 81 days if she gave birth to a girl (Leviticus 12).

To me, one of the most exciting parts of the day at the temple involves an elderly man named Simeon. Luke 2:25 says that he was righteous and devout, and that God’s Holy Spirit prompted him to go to the temple. He no doubt was very happy he listened to God that day, because when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple, Simeon was not only there, but the following verses tell us exactly what happened. They also quote his exact heartfelt words in the presence of the baby, Joseph, and Mary. We can only dream of being so fortunate!

“Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, now you dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel (Luke 2:28-32).”

Can you even imagine the joy of this elderly man, Simeon?! He is the only person recorded in the Bible as having held the Christ child in his arms while talking to Jesus’ heavenly Father, God?! Even God himself did not get to hold his own son in the flesh. Other friends or family must have also held this child. But Simeon is certainly in a small circle who can say they held the Christ child on the day he was presented to God in the temple.

As always, the important part of the story is what our response will be today. Will we, like Simeon, pay attention to where God’s Spirit is leading us? Do we allow Jesus to be the Light for our path? And do we lift up and glorify the King of Kings in the way we live? Have a great week!

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or