This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. The angel Gabriel was sent from God to the city of Nazareth in Galilee, to a young girl named Mary. Mary was 14 or 15, engaged to a man named Joseph, who was a descendant of King David. Gabriel came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled when she heard this, and tried to understand what the angel meant. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Israel forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am not married?”
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. Look even your cousin Elizabeth in her old age is six months pregnant and is going to have a son. Many people thought that she would never have a child, but nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to what you have said.” And Gabriel left her.
Mary hurried to see Elizabeth in a town in Judah. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is your baby! Why am I so blessed that the mother of my Lord should come visit me? For when I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed what God told you would come true.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home in Nazareth.
The Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus ordered that a census should be taken of the Empire and all should be counted. Everyone went to be registered, each to his own ancestral hometown. Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem, the city of David, in Judea, because he was a descendant of David. He went to be registered with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn child, and wrapped him in a cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Nearby there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified, but the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid for 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 a cloth and lying in a manger.” Suddenly the angel was joined by a multitude of other praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels left and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. When they saw him, they told Mary and Joseph what the angel had said about the baby. All who heard the story were in awe of what the shepherds told them. Mary treasured up all these things, thinking about them often. The shepherds returned to their flocks of sheep, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen because it was as the angel had told them.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, “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 heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘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 questioned them about 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, tell me where he is, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. 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 of gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they returned home to their own country by another route.
Now after they left an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to kill him.” He rose and took Jesus and Mary by night and left for Egypt and remained there until Herod died. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Why is this story so special? Jesus did not come as just another in the line of God’s prophets, but as the final prophet, who was God made man. Jesus, who is uncreated and eternal, became a man to do what we couldn’t do…fulfill the Law perfectly as required by God. He came as God-man to save people by taking the just punishment for the Law they broke as a substitute for them. The punishment He endured was an unjust death on a Roman cross nearly 2000 years ago. But He did not stay dead. Jesus rose from the grave after three days and appeared to hundreds of people. Jesus doesn’t ask us to do the impossible, that is to keep the Law perfectly, but instead to throw ourselves at His feet confessing our sin and trusting in Him as our Mediator for forgiveness before a great, holy and just God who hates sin. Jesus is God’s love made manifest and the solution to our guilt before God that we can’t remove ourselves. We are to follow His example of sacrificial love by loving God with our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving others as we love ourselves.
If you’d like to learn how the Bible shows that Jesus is more than a prophet, but the eternal God see these articles about why Jesus came and proof from the Bible that Jesus is God or for a summary of the Good News of Jesus read the Gospel
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– Birth story consolidated from Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2