The Story of the Birth of Jesus
Every year in December, Christmas is celebrated to mark the event of the birth of Christ. The word ‘Christmas’ originated from the ‘mass’ or church service for Christ celebrated at this time. Sometimes, the word is shortened and written as ‘X-Mas’. The ‘X’ stands for the Greek letter which, in Greece is the first letter of Christ’s name and frequently used there as a holy symbol.
The Story of the Birth of Jesus
In the days just before Jesus was born, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus to all the Roman World that each one should go into the city of his ancestor to be taxed. So Joseph and Mary journeyed from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea to the city of David, called Bethlehem. For Joseph was a descendent of the great King David. Mary who was soon to deliver her child rode on a little donkey, while Joseph walked beside her. There were crowds of people steaming into the city to be taxed, and all the inns were full. Joseph and Mary wandered from place to place but could find nowhere to stay. At last, one of the innkeepers, looking at Mary’s tired face, took pity on them and offered them shelter in a little stable behind the inn. Mary and Joseph were grateful and shared the humble little resting place with the animals for the night. That night Mary gave birth to her first born son. She made a little bed for him in a manger and tenderly wrapping the little infant in swaddling clothes, she laid him on the soft sweet smelling hay.
Just outside Bethlehem, there were some shepherds sitting in the fields around a small fire, keeping watch over their flock by night. These shepherds were blessed with a Divine Vision. An Angel suddenly appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone all round. At first, the shepherds were afraid and clutched at each other. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy to all people. For this night in the city of David a Saviour has been born for all mankind; he is Christ, the Lord. And this is the sign by which you will find Him. He will be wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger”. Now suddenly, there appeared a host of angels praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the Highest! And on earth peace and goodwill toward all men.” The shepherds were filled with wonder and said to one another, “Let us now hurry to Bethlehem, and see this thing which has come to pass and which the Lord has made known to us”. They hastened into the city and search until they found the stable behind the inn. They saw Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger wrapped in soft woollen cloth. They knelt down in reverence before the little child, and having seen this for themselves they made know all that was proclaimed to them. Then they returned glorifying and praising God, marvelling at His Divine Plan. And Mary kept what the shepherds had said in her heart and pondered over it.
When they had heard the King, they mounted their camels again after rising and departed. They saw the bright light they had seen in the east and rejoiced. They followed it until they found this great light centred over the place where the Christ child was. Entering in, they saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Then they offered the gifts they had brought. A little casket of gold coins, a carved box containing fragrant powdered incense and a tiny jar of oil of myrrh, for anointing the skin.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the days of Herod, the King, there came wise men (astrologers) from the east journeying, into the capital city of Jerusalem. They had seen a bright light in the sky where there had been none before. And so they came enquiring, “Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him.” When Herod, the King heard these things, he was very troubled. He called together the chief priests and scribes and asked. “According to the prophecy of the scripture where will Christ be born?” And they said “In Bethlehem of Judea.” Now King Herod had no peace of mind. He was angry and afraid about his own position. He wondered who this child was that had brought wise men from the east. Secretly he called the wise men to him and told them. “Go to Bethlehem, and search diligently for the young child, and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.”
Now the wise men were warned by God in a dream that they should not go back to Herod and so they returned to their country by another route. When they had departed, Joseph had a dream in which an angel of the Lord appeared to him saying, “Arise, and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt and stay there until I bring you word. For Herod will seek the young child and destroy him. “When Joseph arose, he told Mary of his dream and they quickly gathered together their belongings. Mary seated on the little donkey held the warmly wrapped infant close to her, and while it was still night they set on the long journey southwards, through the lonely wilderness to Egypt.
When days passed by and Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he grew exceedingly angry. “I will not have my throne taken away by a little baby” he stormed. So great was his wrath that he passed an order that all the children that were in Bethlehem and all the coasts around aged two years and under (from the time he had spoken to the wise men) should be slain.
But after Herod had left his body, an angel of the Lord again appeared to Joseph in a dream in Egypt saying. “Now you can take the young child and his mother and go into the land of Israel.”
So the small family journeyed once more through desert, land and wilderness. But Mary and Joseph were happy for the little child’s life was safe. They came back to Galilee and home to live in the city of Nazareth.