Many of us may know the story of Christmas. A true story that began many, many years ago in a town called Nazareth with young woman named Mary. In the Bible we read:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And 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 bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to 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.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)
But who was this Joseph? Was he a king? A priest? A fabulous ruler? No, he was a simple carpenter. In Matthew’s account, we learn more about Joseph:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-21,24-25)
Hundreds of years before Mary and Joseph’s time, there was a prophet named, Isaiah, who would speak for God to the people of Israel. He once foretold of Jesus’ birth. In Isaiah 7:14 we read, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
The name “Immanuel” means “God with us.”
The ruler at the time had called for a census of all the people to be taken. Being a descendant of King David, Joseph was originally from Bethlehem, which was called the City of David. And so, he and Mary, packed what they could and made the journey to Bethlehem. Luke 2 tells us that Mary was with child and that they had trouble finding a place to stay for the night.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)
After the baby was born, Mary and Joseph probably were hoping for a nice quiet evening and some rest. But that night, they had an unexpected visit from a group of humble guests who just experienced an unusual visit from some heavenly angels.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:8-20)
Sometime after Jesus’ birth, most likely when he was a few years old, Mary and Joseph again, received a visit from some unexpected guests. This time, it wasn’t lowly, humble shepherds. Rather, it is was group of majestic and learned wise men, bearing gifts for the new King.
But their journey was long and not without some trouble. They sought counsel with King Herod, hoping for his help in locating He who was born to be King of the Jews. We look to Matthew to learn more of the obstacles they faced, until at last they find Mary and Joseph with the young child, Jesus.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.'”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. (Matthew 2:1-12)
As you can see, this was no ordinary Child with no ordinary story about His birth. This Jesus grew up, became a man, and would do many amazing things. He came to King of the Jews, but it would be His own people, who would turn against him, press charges, and seek to have Him killed by crucifixion by the Roman authorities.
Jesus, the Christ Child, the King of the Jews, the foretold Messiah, who came as the greatest gift that first Christmas, would give His life so that you and I could receive the gift of salvation, be freed from the captivity of our sin, and have eternal life with Him.
If you would like to learn more about how you can accept this great gift, we would love to hear from you. You can give us a call at 215.968.2354 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.