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When Jesus was just a newborn, He was like any other baby. He couldn't walk or talk, He cried when He wanted to be fed, and He dirtied His diapers regularly. Isn't it funny to think that God dirtied His diapers? More than making us chuckle, however, it should make us realize how much God must love us---He humbled Himself that much in order to save us from our sins.
In the Law that God gave to the descendants of Israel, there were several rules relating to the birth of children. Those rules revealed that God wanted His people never to forget how special it was to have a baby. All babies are made in God's image and are His own potential children, and parents should never forget that. Becoming a parent is a very serious and important thing. God required Israelite parents to bring their first-born sons to the Temple in Jerusalem to present them before Him there. Perhaps one reason for this law was to help new parents understand how valuable their children were and how important their responsibility was in His eyes. It was a way of saying to God, "This is not as much my child as it is Your child. Therefore, I will raise this child as You want me to."
Mothers were also required to offer a sacrifice at the Temple several weeks after their babies were born (see Lev. 12:1-8). This was a way of expressing thanks to God for giving them their babies, and it also served as a reminder to them of how good God had been to them in spite of their sins. They shouldn't think that having a baby was a sign of God's approval of their lives. Sometimes people think that God's blessings are proof that they are holy and fully pleasing to God, but it often only means that God is merciful and good. He is good to everyone, even to bad people! Anyone who has a baby should be thankful for God's goodness.
Simeon must have been a very spiritual man who studied the Scriptures closely. He knew God would keep His many promises to send the Savior, and must have hoped and prayed that he would live to see that day. God revealed to him that he would not die until his desire was realized. The Holy Spirit led him to baby Jesus the day that Mary and Joseph brought Him to the Temple. Simeon also knew that because God had sent His Son into the world, every human being would be faced with a decision: Would they reject or receive Him? Jesus' coming into the world would reveal what was in people's hearts. Because of the hardness of their hearts, many people of Israel would reject Jesus, and it would be "their undoing" just as Simeon predicted. That means they would go to hell. But to those who receive Jesus, it is their "greatest joy," because they know their sins are forgiven and they are going to heaven one day.
The Bible doesn't tell us much about the childhood of Jesus. We did learn today that He grew up in the town of Nazareth. We also read that He was "filled with wisdom beyond his years" (Luke 2:40), so He wasn't like a normal child in that respect. We'll learn in two days that when He was twelve years old, He had more spiritual wisdom than your parents probably do right now!
Q. What do you think Simeon meant when he told Mary that a "sword would pierce [her] very soul"?
A. She would be convicted by what Jesus would say and have to make a decision to obey or disobey Him.
Q. What do you think it means to have Jesus be your "greatest joy"?
A. It means that Jesus is the most special person in your life. Your relationship with Him is the most valuable thing you possess. Thinking about Him and what He has done for you should make you very happy on the inside.
Q. Has Jesus become your "greatest joy" yet?
Application: Jesus was the most special person ever to have lived because He was the Son of God. Therefore, He should be more important than anything in our lives, and it should show by how we live our lives.