ONLY Matthew and Luke give us any account of the birth of our Lord. Matthew records that Mary “was found with child of the Holy Ghost” and that the angel appearing to Joseph declares the child shall be called “Jesus,” which is equivalent to the Old Testament “Joshua” and means “Savior.” All this also is a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14.
Luke records more details. Joseph and Mary at Bethlehem for the taxation find no room in the inn. Alas, there still is no room for the Lord Jesus to be born in the crowded inns of many hearts.
The Lord Jesus was first made known to shepherds, who represent the working class; to the wise men, who represent the student class; and to Simeon and Anna, who represent the worshiping class. Christ has ever been made known to men in their work, their study, their worship. It is significant that the first to hear the glad tidings were the humble shepherds, as if to declare in advance that these things should be received by the weak and base and despised—more by babes than by the wise and prudent.
Yet the learned are not excluded, for the wise men also came to the young King. This story has been twisted somewhat out of its original shape. It is not said that there were three, nor are their names given. Their gifts are significant: gold symbolizes royalty; frankincense speaks of the fragrance of our Lord’s life, a sacrifice to the Father; myrrh, used in embalming the dead, points to His death. In Isaiah 60:6 similar gifts are spoken of in connection with our Lord’s Return, but the myrrh is omitted for His death then is past.
In Matthews account, several scriptures are fulfilled. Micah 5:2, in regard to Bethlehem, comes to pass. The flight to Egypt fulfills Hosea 11:1, which applies primarily to Israel but also to our Lord, who was identified with His brethren according to the flesh. Jeremiah 31:15 is fulfilled in the slaughter of the children by Herod; it personifies Israel in Rachel weeping for her children. The contest shows that Israel will weep until she accepts her Messiah.
Mary must offer sacrifice (Luke 2:24) because she was sinful as other women. Devout Simeon and Anna, waiting for the consolation of Israel and not to die until they had seen the Christ, are Spirit-led to recognize Him. Simeon quotes from Isaiah 42 and 49 that the Lord Jesus shall be “a light to the Gentiles,” the glory of Israel and yet a stumbling stone to Israel (Rom. 3:29; 1 Cor. 1:23-24; 2 Cor. 2:16; 1 Pet. 2:8). Truly a sword pierced Mary’s heart at the cross (John 19:25) as Simeon declared. The rest of the verse, “that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed,” belongs to verse 34. In the attitude men take toward Christ all else is revealed.
Anna testified to others who looked for the Messiah, but doubtless her witness to other Jews was rejected, as it has been to this day.