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Luke 1: 26-31; 2: 22, 25-35
In giving his account of the birth of the Savior, Luke began by telling about Zacharias and Elizabeth, and the birth of their son, John the Baptist. The angel Gabriel visited Zacharias in the temple, saying that he and his wife would have a son.
It was exciting news to Zacharias, who described himself as an old man and his wife as “well stricken in years.” Even more exciting to this childless couple was the angel’s message that their son would “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” The Savior’s birth would be soon.
Elizabeth conceived just as the angel had said, and in the sixth month of her pregnancy, God sent Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee.
Jews in Galilee, and certainly those living in Nazareth, were despised by Jews who lived outside the region. Galilean Jews were closely associated with Gentiles, and so they were seen as being less than respectable Jews. It was in such a place that God chose to send the angel to a virgin named Mary who was engaged to Joseph, a carpenter.
Gabriel greeted Mary, telling her she was “highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” Mary had found grace in God’s eyes and would be the mother of the Messiah. She would be forever recognized among women.
Seeing an angel was one thing, but hearing his words made her wonder what all of this meant. Luke said she was “troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.” Mary was confused and struggled to understand what Gabriel said and why he would be talking to her in this way.
The angel reassured Mary when he said, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.” The young woman had found peace with God, and there was no need to be afraid. She would give birth to a baby boy who would bring peace between mankind and God, and Mary would call His name Jesus because He would be the Savior of mankind.
After the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary brought him to Jerusalem “according to the law of Moses… to present Him to the Lord.” It was at that time they encountered Simeon, a man “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” God had revealed to Simeon that he would see the Messiah before he died.
The Holy Spirit led Simeon to be in the temple at the same time Joseph and Mary brought Jesus, and Simeon joyfully took Jesus in his arms and praised God. “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,” he said.
The baby, Simeon told the parents, would be “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
Simeon said the Messiah had come into the world “that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” May our hearts overflow with thoughts of the wonderful gift God gave to the world.
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. He can be reached at [email protected]
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