“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
The angels’ first proclamation of the good news was to the shepherds who lived out in the fields of the same country, watching their flock at night. The angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone all around them.
When the angels had left, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice, Let the sea and what fills it resound; Let the plains be joyful and all that is in them! Then shall all the trees of the forest exult. Psalm 96:11-12
Rembrandt painting of Simeon at the Temple, painted in 1631
The first revelation that the Messiah had been born was told to the shepherds. Next, before the Wise Men arrived, the Messiah baby was recognized by Simeon and Anna in the temple. Mary and Joseph had traveled to Jerusalem, about six miles north of Bethlehem, to present the baby Jesus to the Lord. Luke tells us their story.
From Luke, chapter 2
When the days of their purification (40 days) according to the law of Moses were finished, Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (just as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn malewill be dedicatedto the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons) – for a poor family.
There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:
Now, Master, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, as You promised. For my eyes have seen Your salvation. You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples— a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.
His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed— and a sword will pierce your own soul (testifying that Mary would suffer at seeing her son’s crucifixion)—that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (those of the Pharisees, Sadducees and others).
There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
May you get to know this Jesus, the One that was sent as the Messiah to all the world.