In Focus: We see Jesus in the Temple at two major times in His life, at about 40 days and at 12 years old. The first time, He is met by Simeon and Anna, who acclaim Him as Messiah. The second time? This is the famous moment where He points out that “He must be about His Father’s business.”
In Practice: What can we do with this? First, we can note that God worked in the Temple, where He had worked many times before. If there is a place where God’s Word is consistently proclaimed and attended to, then we should not surprised to see God work in lives there. Here it is the Temple, but where is it now? Perhaps the local church, where God’s people consistently gather to look to the Word? This is where our effort and attention should focus: Bible-teaching, Bible-practicing local gatherings of believers. Whether you have a building or not is not the issue at hand, but the heart is.
In Nerdiness: Much debate comes among the nerdy set about what we can know about the exact date of Christmas from this passage. Well, first, let’s be clear: Christmas is December 25. End of story—because it’s a religious festival date set initially by the Constantine-era Church.
1. The time of the announcement to Zacharias of John the Baptist, which leads into the proclamation to Mary.
2. The time when shepherds would be in the fields near Bethlehem, unless the Angel of the Lord goes to shepherds elsewhere in the “region,” which is Judea, in which case it’s a meaningless addition.
3. The overall cycles of life and when other events occur that allow you to work backwards to the birth of Christ.
What do we know, then? Not much. Scripture is not clear about the timing and the date—not beyond the year. It’s certainly not worth the angst that some people pour out over it, as if celebrating the birth of Christ on any given day is worth dividing the people of God. Take the time to celebrate…or don’t, as Scripture contains no command to do so. But don’t think we know what we don’t…