He said to Mary,
For the falling
He will be a sign
That will be opposed.”
καὶ εὐλόγησεν αὐτοὺς Συμεὼν καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς Μαριὰμ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ Ἰδοὺ οὗτος κεῖται εἰς πτῶσιν καὶ ἀνάστασιν πολλῶν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ εἰς σημεῖον ἀντιλεγόμενον
Luke said that this holy and devout Simeon turned to Mary and her family. Simeon blessed them (καὶ εὐλόγησεν αὐτοὺς Συμεὼν), presumably Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Was this a priestly blessing? There was no indication that Simeon was a priest, but only an old devout righteous man, but he could have been a old Levite priest also. Then he said to Mary (καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς Μαριὰμ), the mother of Jesus (τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ) that this child would be destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel (Ἰδοὺ οὗτος κεῖται εἰς πτῶσιν καὶ ἀνάστασιν πολλῶν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ). He would be a sign that would be a contraction, as some would oppose him (καὶ εἰς σημεῖον ἀντιλεγόμενον). Everything would not be smooth sailing for her and this child. However, this was not as bad as what Matthew, chapter 2:13-18, had Joseph suffer. There the intention of King Herod was to destroy all the young children in Bethlehem that led him to flee into Egypt. Luke had none of that here. Instead, Joseph and Mary are law abiding Jewish parents active in the Jerusalem Temple, where a holy man came and told them how wonderful Jesus was. There were no Magi here, just shepherds visiting the baby child. King Herod was not even in the picture here in Luke.
They found Mary
With the child
In a manger.”
καὶ ἦλθαν σπεύσαντες, καὶ ἀνεῦραν τήν τε Μαριὰμ καὶ τὸν Ἰωσὴφ καὶ τὸ βρέφος κείμενον ἐν τῇ φάτνῃ·
Without any specific directions, Luke said that these shepherds hurried to Bethlehem (καὶ ἦλθαν σπεύσαντες). There was no indication of what happened to the sheep that they were watching. Nevertheless, they found Mary (καὶ ἀνεῦραν τήν τε Μαριὰμ) and Joseph (καὶ τὸν Ἰωσὴφ), with the child lying in a manger (καὶ τὸ βρέφος κείμενον ἐν τῇ φάτνῃ), just as the angels had told them.
“In that region
There were shepherds
In the fields.
Over their flock
Καὶ ποιμένες ἦσαν ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τῇ αὐτῇ ἀγραυλοῦντες καὶ φυλάσσοντες φυλακὰς τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν ποίμνην αὐτῶν.
Luke had a special emphasis on these common shepherds in the fields, while Matthew had the important Magi get a special sign or star. Luke said that in that same region of Bethlehem (ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τῇ αὐτῇ), there were shepherds (Καὶ ποιμένες ἦσαν) living or camping out in the fields (ἀγραυλοῦντες). They were keeping watch over their flock of sheep at night (καὶ φυλάσσοντες φυλακὰς τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν ποίμνην αὐτῶν). They were doing their jobs as shepherds watching their sheep at nighttime. Perhaps there was a connection between these shepherds and the young shepherd David in the fields of Bethlehem in 1 Samuel, chapter 16:6-13. This may have been Luke showing concern for the common people as expressed in these shepherds.
“While they were there,
The time came
Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ τεκεῖν αὐτήν,
Luke had a very simple statement, just like Matthew, chapter 2:1, about the birth of Jesus. While they were there (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ) in Bethlehem, the time came for her to deliver her child (ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ τεκεῖν αὐτήν). Her pregnancy had reached its end. After all that had preceded, the main event had arrived. As any mother, Mary was excited about the birth of her child. Joseph might also have been concerned.
To be registered
He was engaged.
She was expecting
ἀπογράψασθαι σὺν Μαριὰμ τῇ ἐμνηστευμένῃ αὐτῷ, οὔσῃ ἐγκύῳ.
Luke explained that Joseph went to be registered with Mary (ἀπογράψασθαι σὺν Μαριὰμ). He said that Joseph was engaged to be married, betrothed to Mary (τῇ ἐμνηστευμένῃ αὐτῷ), not yet married, but Mary was expecting or with child (οὔσῃ ἐγκύῳ), as his fiancée. The divine circumstances of that pregnancy had been laid out in the preceding chapter. Matthew pointed out in chapter 1 or his work that Joseph had been disturbed about this pregnancy. It was about an 85-mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This was the third time that Mary had made this trip from Nazareth to the Jerusalem area in the last six months, after going to visit Elizabeth in the Judean hill country outside Jerusalem, and then returning, as mentioned in the preceding chapter. On top of that, her pregnancy was near its end. Today, she would have been refused an air flight, so that this land trip of about a week would have been very dangerous for her and her child.
To their own towns
To be registered.”
καὶ ἐπορεύοντο πάντες ἀπογράφεσθαι, ἕκαστος εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ πόλιν.
Luke said that all the people went to be registered (καὶ ἐπορεύοντο πάντες ἀπογράφεσθαι). Each one of them went to their own town or city (ἕκαστος εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ πόλιν). In other words, people returned to their ancestral home towns. It is not clear how long and why Joseph and Mary were in Nazareth. However, there had to be a reason for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, the city of David. Matthew, chapter 2:1, did not say why Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, since he never mentioned anything about registering for any kind of census, like Luke here.
This Gospel of Matthew has a prologue with five parts that echo the book of Genesis. First, there was the genealogy of Jesus via Joseph that began with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then this genealogy went through the twin sons of Judah and the descendants of Perez. Then it went from Ruth to King David. Then there was the kings of Judah from Solomon to the gap and up to and including the Babylonian captivity. Finally, there were the unknown names in this genealogy that led up to Joseph and his father. Matthew then explained the genealogy of Jesus, since there were differences of this genealogy with that of the Gospel of Luke.
The second part of this prologue was the virgin birth of Jesus. First of all, there was the conception of Jesus from Joseph’s point of view, not Mary’s. Joseph wanted to divorce Mary for being pregnant until an angel in a dream told him that Jesus would be a special child that fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah. After waking up from his dream, there was the virgin birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
The third part of this prologue was the visit of the Magi. They brought their questions to Herod the Judean Roman king, who was annoyed and frightened. He found out that Bethlehem was described by the prophet Micah as the place where the Messiah would be born. Herod summoned the Magi and sent them to Bethlehem. The Magi followed the star and found Mary with the child at the so-called Epiphany. However, they went home another route so that they did not go back to King Herod.
The fourth part was the flight into Egypt, as Joseph had another dream. They went to Egypt to fulfill another prophecy that the Messiah would come out of Egypt. Meanwhile, King Herod killed all the under two-year old boys in the Bethlehem area as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah.
Finally, the fifth part of the prologue was the return of Jesus to Nazareth when Joseph had a third dream. He was told to return to Israel, or more specifically to Galilee in a place called Nazareth. Thus, this prologue gave the unique perspective of Joseph.