Perfect Timing

Remember those two miraculous conceptions? Baby John’s been born and Zechariah has spoken about the man he’ll become. In chapter 2, we see the second birth – the birth of Jesus. The angel said He would be the ruler on David’s throne whose kingdom would never end – the Jews’ much-anticipated Messiah, in other words. Many years before Jesus’ birth, God’s spokesman had said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on My behalf” (Micah 5:2), but Mary and Joseph didn’t live in Bethlehem; they were sixty miles away in Nazareth. Except just as the time of Jesus’ birth approaches, a census takes place – the first one while Quirinius was governor of Syria (that’s a really useful name if ever you’re doing a Biblical alphabet and have to think of a Q). Anyway, everyone’s ordered back to their ancestral homes, and Mary’s soon-to-be husband is a descendant of King David, so they have to go to Bethlehem. Jesus is born exactly as predicted hundreds of years before.

His first night on earth, there are shepherds nearby, watching their flocks. Suddenly, the angel of the LORD appears to them (Luke 2:9), but I can’t help feeling it’s what God had planned all along. In “Birth of the Church”, the author says shepherds’ testimonies didn’t hold up in a court of law because they were considered untrustworthy. How like God to trust the untrustworthy with the most important message of all! They’re told the good news and then suddenly, the angel is joined by a heavenly multitude (Luke 2:13). The sky is filled with angels, praising and glorifying God. What a great welcome for Jesus – the King of kings!

Forty days later, Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple, to present Him to God and bring the offerings prescribed in Jewish Law. God had promised a man named Simeon he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah he had waited for. That day, God’s Spirit led him to the temple (Luke 2:27). God led him there on the day that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus, because God wanted him to see the Messiah, and the prophetess Anna came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:38). Do you see a pattern?

The end of the chapter records an incident only Luke tells us about. Jesus stays in Jerusalem after the Jewish Passover festival. Mary and Joseph assume He’s with some of their relatives at first, but eventually discover they’ve lost Him. They go back to Jerusalem and find Him three days later at the temple. Three days? They think all is lost and then on the third day …

Well, from reading this chapter, I realise I can always trust God to put me in the right place at the right time. I don’t need to worry about something crucial passing me by because if it’s something God has prepared for me, He’s going to make sure I’m in on it.

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