The story of Christmas in the Bible is one that has been read, and cherished across the world for generations. It is a saga of love, faith, commitment, and overcoming all obstacles to fulfil the promises of God to his people.
Each year, we gather around as families and read the story that has long been told about the Virgin Mary, her husband Joseph, and their first born son Jesus. It is a tale that was thousands of years in the making, from the time of the old testament prophets, all the way to us today.
It is the greatest story ever told.
To understand the life of Jesus, we must remember the circumstances of his birth. He was born a humble boy, in a stable behind an inn, in the little town of Bethlehem. But even before then, the stage had been set for this fateful night.
The Christmas Story of Jesus
Where is the Christmas Story in the Bible?
You can follow along with the tale by referencing the stories from the Gospel of Luke, or the Gospel of Matthew.
Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-20.
Now, it is time to begin our story. The story of the birth of Jesus; the Christmas story; the very nativity that the season remembers. It is fitting that such a remarkable story should begin in such an unremarkable place…
In The Town of Nazareth, a Messenger Arrives.
The town of Nazareth is a small city located in the north of Israel. It was the home of Mary, and her soon to be husband Joseph. Joseph was a carpenter by trade, and he and Mary had been promised to each other for some time.
Mary was a young woman, and a virgin as she was unwed. It can be assumed that Mary lived a normal, and quiet life. In a small city, away from the hustle and bustle of the capital in Jerusalem, Mary would have enjoyed the natural comforts and familiarity of a life engaged to a
That is, until the messenger called Gabriel arrived.
It was a normal night, like any other, when a messenger from God appeared to Mary out of nowhere. This messenger was radiant, and carried with him the full glory of heaven–a terrifying sight to see for a young woman from Nazareth.
This messenger delivered a proclamation that Mary would be the mother of the savior of all mankind; the prophesied Messiah who had long been foretold.
The messenger told Mary that she would have this son, and he would be named Jesus, and called Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’. Naturally, this was shocking news to a virgin like Mary.
Mary asked the messenger how this could be. She had never laid with her soon to be husband, and she knew that she could not be pregnant. It was then that the holy messenger revealed that the son would be born of the spirit of the most high God.
It is said that once Mary understood the circumstances of the conception, that she rejoiced. She knew now that the birth of Jesus, her soon to be son, would change the world forever.
The Disbelief of Joseph.
Joseph was a traditional man for his time. He was a Jewish man who took pride in his work as a carpenter, and followed the laws of the land to the best of his ability. That is why, when it was revealed to him that his betrothed was pregnant, he was filled with shock and anger.
It was not an anger that was filled with hate and malice, but rather one of fear and misunderstanding. Mary was not yet his wife, and finding out that she was with child would be a betrayal and dishonor to him.
According to the laws of the time, Joseph could have had Mary stoned and put to death. However, Joseph was a good man, and he did not seek vengeance.
Soon, a messenger visited Joseph as well. This messenger told Joseph what they had told Mary; that the child would be the saviour of all people, as the prophesied Messiah. It was then that Joseph decided to marry his betrothed, and protect her and her family from all
Joseph would live his life as the father of Jesus, even though he knew that Jesus was not born of his flesh and blood.
The Time Of The Census.
In the years before the birth of Christ, the region of modern day Palestine was under Roman rule. The Roman empire had spread it’s fingers across the land, and imposed its rule to the Jews and Gentiles alike.
In this time, the Roman empire wanted to ensure that all of its subjects were paying taxes in accordance with the law of the land. This required a census to be taken of each citizen of the region, according to the area of their birth.
According to the laws of the land, every family would need to travel to the place of birth of the patriarch of the family. In this case it was the line of David, whom Joseph was a descendant, in the town of Bethlehem.
This meant that Joseph, and his pregnant wife Mary, would need to travel the arduous roads from Nazareth to Bethlehem–a journey of over 150 kilometres. This was a journey that would place strain on the pregnant Mary, and force them to find a place to rest once they arrived.
A Place To Stay.
The town of Bethlehem was the historic home of the ancient King David–the third king of Israel. Because of this, any and all who were born of the line of David needed to return here to fulfill their duties for the Roman census. It was this that caused all of the inns in Bethlehem to be overflowing and unable to take on new guests.
The innkeeper was able to offer Joseph and Mary a place to stay for the night; but it would have to be in the stable with the animals. Being exhausted from their long journey, and Mary about to give birth any day now, they humbly accepted the lodging for the night.
It was in this place, this humble stable among the farm animals, that the king of mankind would make his divine entrance.
A King is Born.
Gathered in a field at night, was a group of humble shepherds. They were watching their flock in the night to protect them from animals and thieves. It was this night that the Messiah had been born.
Suddenly, an angel appeared in the night sky above the gathered shepherds. The angel proclaimed that the son of God had been born in the town of David. The angel proclaimed to the shepherds that this was the saviour of all mankind–the Messiah that was promised. When the proclamation was made, a host of heavenly beings appeared and began to sing the praises of the son of God who was born that night.
The shepherds immediately got up, and ran to the town of Bethlehem nearby. There they found what the angel had said. They had found the child Jesus, wrapped and laid in a manger, and his mother Mary and father Joseph there beside him.
The shepherds left the stable that night proclaiming to everyone who would listen what they had seen and heard. They told any who had ears to hear that the promised king of Israel had just been born, and the Messiah was now among them. This message spread quickly, and
soon the whole world would know of the birth of this baby–this child who held the power of the most high inside him.
The Wise Men Bring Gifts.
In the east, three men known as Magi (wise men) saw a star that they knew signified the birth of the promised Messiah. They began to travel, following that star, in search of the king who was born.
In this time, Herod was the King of Judea. Herod had heard the word spreading around his kingdom of this Messiah who had been born. When the wise men arrived, they met with Herod and asked him where the Messiah lived. Herod revealed to them that the Messiah had
been born in Bethlehem, in Judea.
Herod asked the wise men to please bring with them the Messiah when they had found him. Herod swore that he wished to worship this child when he was found. However, it was a lie, and Herod had secretly plotted to kill this baby whom he saw as a threat to his rule.
But the wise men had been warned in a dream of this plot to kill Jesus, and they did not return to Herod again. Instead, they brought gifts to Jesus when they had found him. They brought treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They lavished the child with riches and worshiped him before leaving.
The Story Today.
The tale of the birth of Jesus is one that many of us know by heart. We can remember hearing it at church, at Nativity plays during Christmas, and around family tables during the holiday season.
The story of Christmas in the Bible is a story that should continue to bring us hope to this day. For even though it was only a beginning, it was a beginning to a story that is still happening around us daily. It is the story of a fulfilled promise from God to his people. It is the story of a child who was God made flesh, and who had come to bring a new era of salvation.
The story of the birth of Jesus is the most important story ever told–and that is why we celebrate the Christmas season each year.
What did you think of our Christmas Story in the Bible? Let us know in the comments below.
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