THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST
The Birth of a Savior
At the time that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary she was engaged to marry a man named Joseph. Joseph was a good man who loved God and tired to obey all His laws.
When Joseph learned that Mary was going to have a baby he knew he wasn't the father. He believed Mary had been unfaithful toGod's law
and broken the seventh commandment.
Being a kind, but law-abiding man, Joseph wondered if he could save Mary further embarrassment by quietly breaking their engagement. But, while he was wondering what to do, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.
"Joseph, son of David," the angel told him, "don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for she has done no wrong. The Child that is growing in her has been conceived by means of the Holy Spirit. Mary will give birth to a Son, whom you are to name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. All this has happened to Mary so that what was spoken by the prophet might take place, 'Behold a virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son; and they will call His name Emmanuel, which means, God with us.'"
When Joseph awoke from his dream he knew God had told him what to do. He took Mary as his wife.
Now, the land that Mary and Joseph lived in was under the control of the Romans. The Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar, wanted money from his citizens. He decided that the best way to get tax money was to have all the people go to the city that their families originally came from and sign papers. That way those who collected the taxes would know who the people were, and where they lived.
Joseph and Mary were descendants of David. That meant that they had to go to Bethlehem to pay their taxes. They also went to celebrate God's fall holy days, which took place in the nearby city ofJerusalem at the same time of year.
Mary and Joseph left their home in Nazareth and traveled to the city ofBethlehem.
When they came into the city they looked for a place to spend the night. But many people were in town to register for the taxation, and others were looking for lodging close toJerusalem, where the fall festival would be celebrated.
Perhaps they traveled slowly because Mary was very close to having her baby. For when they reachedBethlehem they found all the usual places where visitors stayed the night were already full.
After being turned away by several inns one of the innkeepers took pity on Mary and Joseph and told them that they could spend the night in his stable.
The stable was warm and clean, and there didn't seem to be any other place available, so Joseph gladly accepted the offer.
Sometime during the night Mary gave birth to a Son. The Child, who Gabriel had said would be King of kings and Lord of lords, and would take away the sins of the world, was born in the humblest of surroundings.
As they had been instructed by God's messenger, they named the Child Jesus, meaning "God is salvation".
Mary wrapped the baby in swaddling clothes and used a manager for his crib.
On the same night that Jesus was born there were shepherds keeping watch over their flocks in the fields just outside of Bethlehem.
Suddenly an angel appeared to them and the glory of God shone around them.
The shepherds were afraid, but listened gladly to what the angel had to say, "Don't be afraid," they were told, "I am here to tell you good news of great joy which shall be to all people. Today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, was born in the city of David. You will know it is the Child when you find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
As the angel finished speaking there suddenly appeared a great number of angels, praising God and proclaiming, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men who love God."
After the angels disappeared into heaven the shepherds talked about what they had seen and heard. They knew that a Savior had been prophesied to come. They were excited and pleased that they might be among the first to see their Deliver. "Let's go into Bethlehem and see if we can find this Child." One of them suggested, and the rest quickly agreed. They hurried down into the city and searched the stables until they found Mary and Joseph and the Baby lying in the manager.
Mary listened to everything the shepherds said, but she didn't tell them about the things Gabriel had prophesied. She quietly thought about all the things that had happened to her and what the future might hold for her and her Son.
After seeing that what the angels had told them was true, the shepherds returned to their flocks, praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen.