The story of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2) starts when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.”
“Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:28-33).
The ultimate expression of divine love is the Father’s gift of His own Son (John 3:16), through whom it becomes possible for us to be “called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Love is genuine only when it is in action. It is the essence of love to sacrifice self for others; selfishness is the antithesis of love.
Mary was engaged to Joseph. And she wondered how can this be, since she did not know a man?” The angel answered her that with God nothing is be impossible. For the Holy Spirit will come upon her and the power of the Highest will overshadow her. And the One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. So, Mary responded, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Mary and her husband-to-be, Joseph, lived in a town called Nazareth in the land of Israel. But they had to travel to the city of Bethlehem to register for a census that the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus commanded. When Joseph and Mary got to Bethlehem, there was no place for them to stay because the inn was full. So, they spend the night in a stable for the animals. And that night, Jesus was born. So, Mary laid baby Jesus in a manger.
The Shepherd’s Visit to Jesus
That night, some shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem, keeping watch over their flocks of sheep. To their surprise, an angel appeared to them giving them the great news that the Savior, the Messiah, had been born. The angel informed the shepherds that they could find Jesus lying in a manger.
Suddenly, a whole group of angels appeared singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14). The shepherds went to Bethlehem and found Jesus lying in the manger, just as the angel had told them. So, joyfully, they spread the good news of His birth.
The Magi’s Visit to Jesus
Sometime later, wise men, or magi, from the east saw a star in the sky that signaled the birth of a new king. So, they traveled to Judea looking for the new king because they wanted to worship Him. King Herod told them that the prophecies pointed that the new king would be born in Bethlehem. And he asked them to notify him of the place of the new king so that he could go and worship him, also. But his real intentions were evil.
The wise men went to Bethlehem by following the star until it was directly above the house where Jesus was. And they knelt and worshiped Him. Also, they brought Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). After that, the Lord warned them in a dream not to go back to King Herod. So, they took another route to their country.
The Massacre of Herod
Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry. And he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under.
Thus, it was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more” (Jeremiah 31:15). By inspiration Matthew applied the words of Jeremiah to Herod’s slaughter of the infants of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:18).
The Call Out of Egypt
Before the slaughter of the infants, God had warned Joseph in a dream to escape to Egypt. So, Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt where they lived away from Herod. And they stayed in Egypt until Herod died. After his death, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, telling him go back to the land of Israel.
But when Joseph heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and lived in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:22,23).
In His service,
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