When the Savior was just eight days old, Mary and Joseph gave Him the name Jesus, as the angel Gabriel had instructed them. A short time later they took Jesus to the temple “to offer a sacrifice according to … the law of the Lord, A pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons.”
A devout man named Simeon had been promised through the power of the Holy Ghost that he would not die until he had seen the Christ. When Simeon “came by the spirit into the temple,” he saw Mary and Joseph and the baby. Happily he reached out and took the baby into his arms “and blessed God,” knowing at last that the Savior had come. Simeon also prophesied that Jesus would be a blessing to all people. Then he blessed Mary and Joseph and told Mary of the terrible suffering she would endure because of the way Jesus would be treated.
Also in the temple that day was Anna, an aged prophetess. When she saw the baby Jesus, the Spirit of the Lord bore testimony within her that the child she beheld was the promised Messiah. Anna thanked the Lord for her knowledge of this wonderful event, and she hastened to tell all who would listen of its importance.
Joseph and Mary returned with the baby Jesus to their home. There Mary cared for Him just as every mother cares for her child. She loved Jesus very much.
At this time King Herod ruled over the people of Palestine and the lands around it. He was a cruel and greedy man, and he had put many people to death because he did not want anyone to take his place as king.
One day certain wise men from the East who had seen the bright new star in the heavens came to Jerusalem. They knew that the star was a sign that the Messiah had been born. “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” they asked, “for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”
When Herod heard about a new king of the Jews, he became very upset. He called all the learned men of his kingdom together and asked them where the promised Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea:” they answered, “for thus it is written by the prophet [Micah].”
King Herod was very clever as well as very cruel. He pretended to be excited about the Messiah and told the Wise Men, “Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.”
The Wise Men left and, guided by the star, soon came to the house where Mary, Joseph, and the Child were staying. There they “fell down, and worshipped [Jesus]: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”
God warned the Wise Men in a dream not to return to Herod, so they traveled back to their own country by a different route. The Lord also sent an angel to warn Joseph of the danger. The angel told Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt, and assured Joseph that he would be told when it was safe to return. Joseph quickly obeyed, leaving with Mary and Jesus while it was still night.
King Herod soon realized that the Wise Men had left without reporting back to him. He became more and more angry about the rumors that a king of the Jews had been born. Finally his jealousy became so great that he ordered all the children under the age of two within his kingdom to be put to death.
King Herod’s wickedness caused much sorrow in the land, but he did not succeed in killing the King of the Jews. After Herod’s death, the angel of the Lord directed Joseph to take Mary and young Jesus back to the land of Israel. And so the family returned to Nazareth, where Jesus could grow and learn and prepare for His mission in life.