Jesus as a New Born
An often forgotten part of the Christmas Story. Jesus's naming ceremony and some very special things said about him.
The Story in the Bible
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, 'Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord'), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: 'a pair of doves or two young pigeons.'
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 'Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.'
The child's father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: 'This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.'
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
The History behind Jesus going to the Temple, Anna and Simeon in the Christmas Story
Circumcision, as part of the naming ceremony for baby boys, was required by Jewish law and still is today. It is done to remind Jewish people of the agreement that God made with a man called Abraham in the Old Testament of the Bible. It normally takes place on the 8th day after birth and during the ceremony the baby is officially named.
31 days after birth, the time came for Mary and Jesus to be presented at the temple in Jerusalem for the purification service. Jesus had to be presented, like all new babies, to be 'paid for'. This was a way of recognising that the baby was a gift from God and really belonged to him, so the parents had to symbolically 'buy back' the baby from God. The amount that had to be paid for a baby was about 60 grams of silver.
Mary had to go to the temple to be symbolically made clean and pure for the blood that she had lost when she gave birth. To be made pure, a dove or other bird had to be sacrificed; and to be made clean, a lamb to be sacrificed. However, if you were poor, a dove could be sacrificed instead of a lamb. That is why a pair of doves or pigeons were sacrificed.
When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for the purification service, he was welcomed and nursed by two very old people. Many of the Jews were eagerly awaiting a mighty and magnificent king, who would lead the people to glorious victory against their enemies. But there were others looking for a just and godly Messiah. They were known as the 'Quiet in the Land', for they spent their days in prayer and worship of God, waiting patiently for the day when he would send his chosen Saviour to earth. Simeon and Anna were two of the Quiet in the Land. They had waited many years to see God's promised Messiah. As soon as they saw the baby Jesus they recognised him as God's Deliverer and knew that their dreams were fulfilled.
The shepherds could well have bought the news of a very special baby to the Temple when they sold their sheep to be used in the daily sacrifices. So Anna and Simeon might have known that they would soon see the promised messiah.