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Wednesday
Dec152010

The Intriguing Story of the First Christmas, Part Two

Mary and Joseph both lived in Nazareth, but God had said hundreds of years earlier, through the prophet Micah, that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.”1

Around the time Mary was due to give birth to Jesus, Caesar Augustus, the great Roman emperor, commanded that all of the people of the Roman world were to be counted. This required Mary and Joseph to return to Bethlehem, the home of Joseph’s ancestors, for the census.

They had to travel a long, long ways south to Bethlehem. Usually the art portraying this shows a donkey carrying Mary. Even if Mary rode a donkey it was still a long ride. When you ride a donkey you feel a jolt with every step it takes. But it was probably better than walking.

Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem just in time, because Mary began to have contractions. It was time for the baby to be born!

There was no hospital to have the baby, nor did they have a doctor or a midwife to help deliver the baby. They also didn’t have a place to stay. Maybe Joseph’s relatives no longer lived there, or maybe their relatives didn’t have room for them. After all, there were many others returning to Bethlehem at the same time.

So Joseph knocked on the door of an inn and asked if there were any available rooms.

The innkeeper laughed incredulously. “No, of course not! People have come to Bethlehem from all over the place and everything is full. I’m running over with people! I have no space at all!”

“But, look, my wife is about to have a baby. We need a place for her!” entreated Joseph.

The innkeeper took pity on Mary. “I guess you could stay in my stable for tonight!” At least that would get them out of the cold, and they would be protected from wind and rain, even if it meant staying where the barn animals slept.        

 

So that evening Mary gave birth to the baby right there in the stable. She wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in the manger. Do you know what a manger is? It’s a feeding trough that is often made out of wood, where hay or grain is put for the livestock to eat.2

Just at the time of the birth, out on a nearby hillside shepherds were watching their sheep. An angel appeared to them and said,

“I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!”3

After that astonishing proclamation, a big bright light burst across the sky, and a group of angels appeared, singing: “Glory to God in the highest! Peace on Earth to men of good will!”

The shepherds were very excited by this news. When the angels disappeared they said, “Let’s go see the Messiah!”

So they went into Bethlehem, and somehow they found Baby Jesus! God must have led them, because the shepherds found Jesus in a manger in the stable. Mary and Joseph must have been very happy and quite excited when they heard the news that angels had appeared to these shepherds and told them that Jesus, the Messiah, had been born! 4

(To be continued.)

Footnotes:
1 Micah 5:2 NKJV
2 Read Luke 2:1–7.
3 Luke 2:10–12 TLB
4 Read Luke 2:14–19.

S&S link: Christian Life and Faith: Biblical and Christian Foundation: Jesus, God’s Son-1b

Adapted by MWS staff, based on writings published by TFI. Illustrations by Jeremy. Colors by Sabine Rich.
Copyright © 2010 by The Family International

Downloads

PDF: The Intriguing Story of the First Christmas, Part Two (Japanese)
RTF: El fascinante relato de la primera Navidad, 2ª parta
DOC: A Fascinante História do Primeiro Natal, 2ª Parte