After a play, actors take a curtain call. Traditionally, the minor characters appear first. As the audience applauds, the actors and actresses continue to emerge in reverse order of importance until finally the star of the show arrives. At this point, the audience rises to their feet because this character, indeed, is the central focus of the show.
In this passage we focus on the central reason for Christmas: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He arrived as a baby; God’s Son was sent to earth in human form (Phil. 2:5–8). He is fully God and fully man.
The shepherds and Jesus’ parents recognized that this was no ordinary baby (vv. 17, 19). They had all received messages given to them by angels! After Jesus’ birth, the word spread thanks to the shepherds who had come to see Him. Eight days later, as was tradition, Jesus was named and circumcised. His parents were obedient to God and gave Him the name assigned by the angel (1:31).
Scripture doesn’t give much information about Jesus’ childhood other than that the “grace of God was on him” (2:40). Like any human child, He grew taller and stronger and learned more. We can infer from what the Bible tells us about Joseph and Mary that they reared Him in a home that feared the Lord and knew the Scriptures.
When Jesus was 12, he went to the temple during the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and then engaged the religious scholars there in conversation. When his parents found Him, Jesus gave them an unusual explanation: “Why were you searching for me? . . . Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (v. 49). Mary and Joseph could not deny the truth and wisdom of this special child who was growing from their miraculous baby into His public ministry as God’s Messiah.