WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

Have you ever wondered what happened after Jesus’ eventful birth?

First, there was the excitement of the angels appearing to the shepherds watching their sheep and then their subsequent arrival at the stable… Luke 2 gives the account:

“And she brought her forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men. 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. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” Luke 2:7-20 (KJV)

How surprised Mary and Joseph must have been to have these fellows show up after the birth! I can just imagine their conversation! Who are these guys? Why are they here? How did they know?

Don’t you know the shepherds probably had some explaining to do about their purpose when they just showed up that night? Can’t you picture Joseph interrogating them before he let them see Mary and the baby Jesus?

We don’t know how long the shepherds stayed that night in the stable. How comforting to Mary and Joseph they showed up when they did. The shepherds confirmed this obscure baby was indeed the Savior that had been prophesied in Micah 5:2.

Eight days later…

It is important to remember the Levitical laws concerning birth.

Leviticus 12:2-3 tells us that Mary was considered unclean for seven days after the birth of her son. On the eighth day, according to Mosaic law found in Genesis 17:12, a boy was required to be circumcised. Genesis tells us that God required this procedure as a token of the covenant between God and man.

“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.” Luke 2:21

It wasn’t until the 34th day after the birth that Mary would be considered clean in accordance to the law as given by God to Moses.  When Mary’s time of uncleanness was complete, the family went to Jerusalem to present the baby to the Lord, as was the custom.

“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;” Luke 2:22

This is when Simeon was led by the Holy Spirit to the Temple. There he met the little family. He picked up the baby and blessed God for allowing him to see the Christ.

“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.” Luke 2:28-32

Can you imagine what Joseph and Mary thought?  The Bible tells us…

“And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.” Luke 2:33

Simeon concluded with a blessing.

“…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.” Luke 2:34-35

They were soon joined by a widow lady named Anna who is called a prophetess in Luke 2:36. She also gave thanks to God for this child who would bring redemption.

Joseph and Mary must have been gratified to hear the words of Simeon and Anna, but probably wanted more understanding about what their words meant for their little son.

Then one day wise men showed up at their doorstep in Bethlehem. Matthew says Jesus was a young child at this time.  The wise men had traveled to Jerusalem to find out where the baby Jesus was. Herod heard and was troubled. So he gathered the chief priests and scribes to find out what they knew about this King of the Jews the wise men sought. Here’s the story found in Matthew 2:2-12.

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 him also. 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.  And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.”

Joseph naturally was alarmed that these strangers had found them. More so when the angel of the Lord appeared to him with instructions to flee…

“And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Matthew 2:13-15

Joseph was a wise man. When an angel appeared in a dream telling him to flee to Egypt, he took the warning seriously. He believed God. He also demonstrated his belief by obeying. We can say we believe, but do we really? If we do, then we should be following God’s Word, for in it is much wisdom.

God always has a plan! He knows what’s going on even when we don’t have a clue! He also knows the beginning and the end of every situation. Herod sought to destroy Jesus, but God thwarted his plan. God warned the wise men not to go back to Herod. So they left town on an alternate route in obedience to God.

When the wise men didn’t return to Herod with news, he was angry. So he came up with a new plan…

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” Matthew 2:16-18

How horrible that other little children were slaughtered, all in an effort to kill Jesus. Herod was a wicked man. Thankfully God had a plan to protect Jesus.

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” Matthew 2:19-23

At the age of twelve, Jesus and His family went to Jerusalem for the Passover as was the custom. When it was over the family started their journey home to Nazareth, only to discover Jesus wasn’t with the group. They found him in Jerusalem in the Temple. Luke 2:46 tells us He was talking with the doctors there, engaging them in discussion. His parents of course were astounded by His understanding and by the fact that He didn’t tell them. He in turn was surprised they were worried and didn’t understand why He was there. Here’s the story…

“And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Luke 2:42-52

Luke continues the story in Chapter 3. Jesus is a man now. He has arrived at the place where John the Baptist was baptizing people who repented of their sin. John baptized Jesus, whereupon the Holy Spirit (in the form of a dove) descended upon Him. Then a voice came from Heaven saying, “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22). Jesus was about thirty years old.

Luke 4 tells us Jesus was then led by the Holy Spirit into the desert where He underwent a time of testing by the devil. When it was over, Jesus began His formal ministry time.

During His days on this earth, He performed many miracles. He healed the sick and lame. He raised Lazarus from the dead. He taught and trained His twelve disciples, preparing them to continue sharing the message of redemption. He was truly the Savior of the world as foretold by the prophets.

Isaiah 53 foretells the crucifixion, described in John 19. John 20-21 tells what happened after His burial. He was resurrected from the dead! He came to offer Himself to take our punishment for sin so that we might have eternal life.

What does this mean?

Here’s what the Bible says about Jesus…

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

“Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should  be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead:  And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. ” Acts 13:26-31

Jesus came as a baby, but He was truly God’s only begotten Son. He came to die in our place so we might be forgiven of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life if we will accept Him as our personal Savior.

Here’s what the Bible says about us…

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;Romans 3:23

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

All of us have sinned. It is our nature. As a sinner, we are unqualified to save ourselves. God’s law requires perfection, which we are not.

Yet God is merciful and doesn’t want to punish us. He loves us, but He is just and must punish sin. The Bible says we can have eternal life as a gift from God. A gift cannot be earned and is not deserved. We cannot receive eternal life through our own efforts. We must receive it by faith.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

This is evidenced by the fact that He sent His Son Jesus to die in our place. His death alone satisfied God’s requirement for the forgiveness of sin. Why? He was sinless.

Then He rose again, and was seen by many witnesses.

Since Jesus took our punishment for us on the Cross, He paid the penalty we each owe God for our sin. As a result, Jesus offers us eternal life with Him in Heaven.

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:13  

What is faith?

Believing faith is not head knowledge or temporal faith. Temporal faith is reserved for a crisis; it’s temporary, for the moment. Believing faith is believing that what Jesus did on the cross paid our sin price. As a result, if we will accept Him as our Savior and Lord, we will receive eternal life rather than eternal condemnation.

Eternal life requires faith in Jesus alone. Jesus paid our sin price with His death. We must accept what He has done, for our best efforts will not gain us a place in Heaven.

“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31

Saving faith is demonstrated by transferring our trust in our own efforts to gain favor to what Jesus did for us on the cross.

“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:10

We must invite Him to be our Savior. He doesn’t just barge in. We must ask in prayer for Him to forgive us for our sin and ask Him to come into our heart.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20 (KJV)

Repentance for sin is the result of our conviction of sin. If we are sincere, we will be willing to give up anything that is displeasing to Him.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ” John 1:12 (KJV)

How do I receive this gift?

If you would like to receive the gift of eternal life, then ask Jesus to give you the gift of eternal life in prayer.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” John 6:47 (KJV)

“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21 (KJV)

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)

I hope you will examine your heart and see your need if you have not already asked Jesus to be your Savior and Lord. It will be the best thing you have ever done!

Inspirational writer and photographer.

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