I love the narrative in Luke 2 that chases the story of Jesus from a different perspective. Just so you can follow here is the sequence of events in Luke:
- The angel Gabriel predicts to Zacharias that Elizabeth will bear a son whose name will be John (Luke 1:5-17)
- Gabriel’s prophecy that Zacharias will not speak until his son is born (2:18-23)
- Gabriel appears to Mary six months later and announces she will bear the Christ-Child (2:24-38)
- Mary travels to visit with her relative Elizabeth (2:39-45)
- Mary’s Magnificat (praise to the Lord) (2:46-55)
- Mary stays with Elizabeth for three more months and then returns home (2:56)
- Elizabeth and Zacharias name their boy John (2:57-66)
- Zacharias prophetic announcement of God’s salvation (2:67-79)
- John grows up and lives in the desert until his ministry begins (2:80)
- Caesar Augustus decrees a census driving Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus is born (2:1-7)
- Angels appear to Shepherds and announce Jesus’ birth; they go and find the manger (2:8-20)
- After eight days Mary and Joseph name Jesus
- After 33 more days they take Jesus to the temple to complete the requirement for purification (2:22-24)
- Simeon blesses Jesus (2:25-35)
- Anna praises God and announces to all the redemption of Jerusalem (2:36-28)
- Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt because Herod slaughters all the children (Matthew 2:13-18)
- Mary, Joseph and Jesus return and settle in Nazareth (Luke 2:39-40)
Even though this is not the complete story-line it is obvious that “Christmas” has nothing of Christmas trees, decorations, gifts, banquet type celebrations or holidays written into the narrative. In fact the story has some tragic elements, enormous challenges, change, and a great deal of inconvenience. It is nice, however, to see the real life events that flow from Christ’s first advent.
I will camp on Simeon and Anna: two people who were righteous and filled with the Holy Spirit. They intentionally sought after the Lord, and because of this, they recognized God at work around them that no one else even noticed. They were perceptive enough, because of God’s promise and the leading of the Spirit of God, to see that this infant was an extraordinary Child who would become God’s salvation and redemption.
What do you see and focus on at Christmas? What will you see this year?