Jesus of Nazareth was the pivotal person of history. Time, in the Western world, is calculated
from His existence. He influenced history more than any other individual who has ever lived.
Buddha, Confucius, Muhammed, and others influenced portions of the world; but, Jesus
influenced the entire world. The story of His life has inspired books, plays, movies, poems,
songs, symphonies, operas, and most importantly, the lives of countless millions. Although
His teachings have been corrupted and twisted to do harm, the advancement of civilization –
the progress of charity – the promotion of freedom and liberty – the uplifting of the standard
of living – the propagation of peace, these are the true heritage of His life for the world.
However, for the believer – the disciple – the Christian, there is a greater heritage: one of
mercy, one of grace, one of hope, one of faith, one of forgiveness. For to the believer, Jesus
was more than a great historical figure; He was the only-begotten Son of God – the Christ –
the Messiah – the Savior of the world. He was the One who fulfilled Moses and the Prophets.
It is He that became the sacrifice for sin. His death was more than that of a martyr for a
cause; it was the gift of God that brought the reality of the forgiveness of sins for those who
would truly believe.
Unlike other world religions, the reality and authenticity of Jesus, the historical facts of His
life, are the foundation of what is believed. If His life were different, He could not and would
not be Who He claimed. Therefore, nothing is more important than examining His life. It tells
the story. It is the gospel, the good news of salvation come to this world.
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in
this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
and that believing ye might have life through his name. [JOHN 20:30-31 KJV]
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was
called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished,
they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the
Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a
sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two
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.
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had
seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents
brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his
arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared
before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall
and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword
shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was
of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a
widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served
God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks
likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into
Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. [LUKE 2:21-39 KJV]
The covenant of circumcision had been given first to Abraham, and then repeated to Moses.
Circumcision was the removal of the foreskin of the male, to be accomplished on the eighth
This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee;
Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your
foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days
old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in
the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in
thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my
covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. [GENESIS 17:10-13 KJV]
It was on the day of circumcision that the name was given to the child. The son of Mary was
called Jesus, in accordance with the revelation of the angel to both Mary and Joseph.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a
woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days;
according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. And in the
eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. And she shall then continue in the
blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into
the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. [LEVITICUS 12:1-4 KJV]
It was thus forty-one days after the birth of Jesus, that mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the
temple. She was required to give an offering for a son, and they were required to present the
firstborn male unto the Lord.
And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a
lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin
offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: … And if she be
not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the
burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her,
and she shall be clean. [LEVITICUS 12:6, 8 KJV]
Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of
Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine. [EXODUS 13:2 KJV]
For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I
smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself. [NUMBERS 8:17 KJV]
[SEE ALSO EXODUS 22:29; 34:19; NUMBERS 3:13; 18:15]
It must be remembered, Jesus was a Jew. He was born under the Law, and obligated to fulfill
it, as were Joseph and His mother. [GALATIANS 4:4] Thus, He was circumcised, though there
is no command for Christians to be circumcised (It is a matter of physical consideration).
[SEE GALATIANS 5:6; 6:15] Neither does water baptism take the place of circumcision at
birth, for baptism is to be practiced on believers whether male or female, whereas
circumcision was practiced only on the males. [SEE MARK 16:16]
When Joseph and Mary came to the temple to present Jesus to the Lord, there was a devout
and righteous man by the name of Simeon who also came to the temple. Simeon was filled
with the Holy Spirit, and had been told by God that he would not die until he had seen “the
Lord’s Christ,” the Messiah, the Anointed. Taking Jesus in his arms, he states: Lord, now
lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy
salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the
Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. Now, he could die satisfied, because God had
fulfilled His promise. He had seen the salvation of the Lord in the person of Jesus, who would
save His people from their sins. This baby would provide a light for the nations of the Gentiles
who are walking in the darkness of idolatry, and provide glory for the people of Israel whose
sins had diminished the glory that was theirs as the chosen people of God. [SEE ISAIAH 42:6]
Then Simeon turned his attention to Joseph and Mary, blessing them. He additionally warned
them of the problems that Jesus would face. Many would be raised from their depths by Him,
but others who were in high places would be brought low. In plainer words, turmoil would
follow Him throughout his life, leading to His death, and even after His death. Although He
was the Messiah, the Christ, He was to be rejected and spoken evil of. This would break their
heart, piercing it through with sorrows. But, the result of all that transpired would be the
revelation of the hearts, minds and souls of men. God’s word would not return void.
Anna, a member of the tribe of Asshur, who was a prophetess, was also in the temple at this
time. She was widowed after seven years of marriage, and had been a widow for eighty-four
years. She had served in the temple day and night, fasting and praying. She told everyone
who “looked for redemption in Israel” about Jesus. She knew that this baby, though of humble
birth, was special: He was the Son of God, the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.
When Joseph and Mary had fulfilled all the requirements of the Law, they returned home. This
passage goes from their life in Bethlehem, then jumps to their life in Nazareth, not discussing
the events which led to their moving to Nazareth. Those events are described by Matthew.
THE VISIT OF THE MAGI
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold,
there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the
Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he
demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou
Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee
shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time
the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the
young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east,
went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the
star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they
saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they
had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
[MATTHEW 2:1-12 KJV]
“Wise men” came from the East, probably Persia and inquired about the birth of Jesus. Who
were these “wise men,” or Magi? "The Jews believed that there were prophets in the
kingdom of Saba and Arabia, who were of the posterity of Abraham by Keturah; and that they
taught in the name of God, what they had received in tradition from the mouth of Abraham."-
WHITBY. Others believe that the reference is to the class of court advisors which Daniel had
attained acceptance into, who were schooled in astrology, and other “knowledge” of the
ancient world. Some believe this is a reference to those who were worshippers of fire. The
word translated “wise men” is found in two other occasions in the New Testament: Simon
(Acts 8:0-11) and Elymas (Acts 13:6-8). Whomever they were, the Magi (whether through the
prophecies of Balaam or Daniel) knew of the coming birth of He Who would be “King of the
Jews.” Beyond that, they had come to worship Him, being notified by the appearance of a star.
Why did they come to Jerusalem? Evidently they did not know the location where the baby
would be born. We assume that they thought the capital of the nation would be the logical
place for the king to be born. And, we assume they thought that the king would know all about
such a birth; but, Herod seems to be caught totally unaware.
The news bothered Herod. He was king. Who was this that was born “King of the Jews?”
How would that impact his reign? Indeed, Jerusalem was upset over the news. How would
that effect the rule of Rome? They were already cruel, now what would they be?
Gathering together the scribes (who transcribed the Law and the Prophets) and the main
priests Herod demanded of them where the Christ, the Messiah, would be born – He who
would be “King of the Jews.”
They quoted Micah 5:2 -- But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the
thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel;
whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. The quotation is not verbatim. It
more closely resembles the Septuagint than the Hebrew. It is the gist of the passage, the
message that in Bethlehem of Judea that Jesus would be born that is important.
The people were aware of the prophecies of the Messiah. They knew the time was ripe for
their fulfillment. A ruler of God’s people would come for God’s people.
Notice, it does not say “a ruler of Israel,” but “the ruler of my people.” Jesus’ reign would not
be restricted to the Jews, but would include the Gentiles. God’s people are those who are
willing to hear and obey His word.
Herod then calls the wise men in for a private meeting. He asks them when the star
appeared, and asks them to inform him where the child is after they have found him.
Supposedly, this is so Herod may go and worship the child as well.
The wise men listened to Herod, then continued on their way. As they left the palace of Herod,
the star once again appeared in the sky. Evidently, it had disappeared for the moment. They
followed the star to Bethlehem, where they found the baby with his mother, Mary. They at
once fell down and worshipped Him, giving Him gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh. Each of
these gifts was a precious item, a very expensive item.
It is common to see “Nativity Scenes” around the day many celebrate the birth of Jesus, but
they are all in error. They show the wise men finding Jesus in the manger in the stable. Note,
however, the location in scripture: the house. That is one reason why we believe that the time
of the visit of the Magi was much later than the night Jesus was born. Joseph has had time to
locate a house for them to reside in.
Another error of the “Nativity Scenes” is how many Magi are pictured. “Three Good Kings of
Orient” are usually pictured. Tradition (anecdotal stories) have even provided us with the
names of the three Magi. However, the scripture does not tell us how many wise men there
were. It is assumed since they brought three gifts, each person must have brought a different
gift, therefore, three wise men. The scriptures only say there were “men” in the plural,
meaning more than one. There could have been two to twelve, or even more who came.
Nothing is to say that a wise man could not have brought multiple gifts. The truth is, we do not
know how many wise men there were.
Also, remember Herod inquired when the star appeared. Jesus is referred to as a young
child, not a new born. Jesus could have been as old as two at this time, as the following