Following Jesus • 19 / Paying Attention

Much is said about Jesus’ low-key birth. Small-town parents, strangers in Bethlehem, no vacancy, sleeping in the stable. Mary and Joseph were nobodies from nowhere. Unnoticed.

But Jesus’ birth was no secret. The birth of John the Baptist six months prior was “talked about through all the hill country of Judea” (Luke 1:65-66). And since John’s father knew who the Messiah was, all that talking surely pointed to Jesus’ arrival.

Then there were the shepherds. They also “made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds” (Luke 2:17-18).

Later that month God led Simeon and Anna the Prophetess — both known and respected throughout Jerusalem — to meet Jesus in the Temple. Afterward, Anna “continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

Society itself was keen with anticipation of a great king and deliverer to come from Judea. Josephus, Suetonius, Tacitus, and Virgil all mention this. The entire Roman world was expecting an unprecedented world leader to arise, and the Jewish scholars even knew the approximate time and place of His arrival (from Daniel’s prophecies and Micah 5:2).

Jesus’ birth was certainly not shrouded in secrecy. Anyone paying attention would have found out. Especially after the international incident recorded in our next passage.

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