Jesus’ First Forty-one Days
Jesus’ first forty-one days were significant for what happened at the beginning and end of them. We have knowledge of those two events because the Gospels report them. The Bible also tell of us something that happened eight days after Jesus was born. We know nothing of the other days, but some pieces of the puzzle can be pulled together from hints in the Gospels. So this is what we know (or I guess) about Jesus’ first forty-one days.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem due to Joseph and Mary traveling there to participate in Caesar Augustus’ census (Luke 2:1-5). She gave birth to Jesus and “placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6) The Gospels do not tell the exact location of the birth. “In a manger” means that Jesus was born where animals frequented. This could mean a stable, barn, cave, or even the open. Nor do we know for certain at what time of day or night Jesus was born. But we do know what happened during his first night.
Luke mentions that shepherds showed up while Jesus was in the manger (Luke 2:16). But when did the shepherds show up? They were watching their flocks at night when they saw and heard the angels and decided to look for Jesus (Luke 2:8-15). Luke further states that “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” So, after the shepherds discovered Jesus on his first night, they spread news about him to others on that same night (remember they could not stay away long from their flocks). Other people probably came that night and the next days to see Jesus.
Then news of Jesus goes blank until day eight. But what happened during that time? We do have a possible hint. Matthew mentions that at some point Mary, Joseph, and Jesus lived in a house in Bethlehem, because that is where the Magi discovered them (Matthew 2:11). But Joseph was not a wealthy person (Jesus born in a manger). So how did they get into a house? A fact then a guess: fact, Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem because it was Joseph’s ancestral home; guess, he had relatives in Bethlehem. I can see Mary and Joseph arriving in busy Bethlehem and their focus was getting Jesus born. Once the birth occurred, Joseph found relatives who let them move in. (This is just a guess.)
On day eight Jesus was circumcised. We know this because Luke mentions it (2:21) and because the Covenant between Abraham and God declared that all Jewish boys would be circumcised at eight days of age (Genesis 17:12).
Then the next thirty-three days are blank. We can only assume that during this time Mary, Joseph, and Jesus remained in Bethlehem (because it makes the most sense).
After thirty-three days, Mary had to go to Jerusalem in order to present Jesus at the Temple (Luke 2:22,23). Why thirty-three days? The Law of Moses stated that a woman was “unclean” for thirty-three days after the circumcision of a son (Leviticus 12:3,4). The Law further states that “When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering (Leviticus 12:6). These were done on behalf of the mother and not the child (Leviticus 12:7). For poor people, the Law stated that two doves or two young pigeons could be substituted for the lamb and pigeon or dove (Leviticus 12:8). And Mary and Joseph did offer the latter (Luke 2:24), again showing their financial situation.
So, Jesus’ first forty-one days was filled with birth, many visitors, circumcision, and a trip to the Temple in Jerusalem, where he met two phenomenal people, Simeon and Anna: Luke 2:25-38.
©Mark Nickens 2009 All Rights Reserved
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