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Wednesday
Dec222010

The Intriguing Story of the First Christmas, Part Three

 After Jesus was born, Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus stayed in Bethlehem for some time.

 Joseph was a talented, hard-working carpenter, and he probably found work to do to support his family. Maybe at first he did some work for the innkeeper. Hotels and inns are always in need of repairs from being used so much, so he might have done some work for him. Maybe the innkeeper gave Joseph a job so he could stay in the stable for awhile until he found a house.

It was about two years after Jesus’ birth that the wise men came from Mesopotamia in search of Jesus. These wise men were astrologers who studied the stars, and while they were studying the stars, God had revealed to them that a great king had been born in Judea, although they didn’t really understand who He was.

God had been guiding these wise men by the star, but then they apparently used their natural reasoning and decided, “We’ll ask the king in Jerusalem where we can find this King of the Jews the star is leading us to! Of course, King Herod will know where this great king has been born.” So they asked the king instead of just continuing to follow the star.

King Herod thought, Oh dear! What other king besides me has been born in this country? I’m the king!

And then crafty, wicked Herod thought, I’d like to know where this king is too! So he told the wise men, “When you find the King of the Jews, return and let me know where He is so that I too can go to worship Him!”

But King Herod wasn’t planning to worship this King of the Jews at all! He wanted to kill Him!

King Herod called in his wise men and asked them, “Where is this ‘Messiah of the Jews’ supposed to be born, anyway?”

They answered, “According to the prophecies in our scriptures, He’s supposed to be born in Bethlehem.”

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

Art not the least among the rulers of Judah;

For out of you shall come a Ruler

Who will shepherd My people Israel.’1

So the wise men continued to follow the star to Bethlehem, and there they found Jesus and offered Him the three gifts they had brought Him.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.2

The gift of frankincense was a lovely perfume or incense that was given to priests. Gold was a symbol of kingship. These gifts signified that He was the Son of God—royal and divine!

Myrrh was a fragrant sap used in incense or perfume for burial ceremonies. This gift made reference to Jesus’ death for mankind to save us from our sins.

God then spoke to the wise men in a dream. “Don’t go back to King Herod. King Herod doesn’t want to worship Jesus. He is afraid and jealous that if Jesus is going to be such a great king, that He might take his kingdom!”

 … [W]hen they returned to their own land, they didn't go through Jerusalem to report to Herod, for God had warned them in a dream to go home another way.3

So the wise men went back another route and bypassed wicked King Herod. King Herod waited and waited and waited for the kings to come back, but they never returned.

After they were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up and flee to Egypt with the baby and his mother," the angel said, "and stay there until I tell you to return, for King Herod is going to try to kill the child."

That same night he left for Egypt with Mary and the baby, and stayed there until King Herod's death.”4

Egypt was about 300 kilometers (about 200 miles) away from Bethlehem, which was a very long distance to travel in those days. But God knew that this was where Jesus would be safe, as long as Herod was alive.

Now how do you suppose they could afford a trip like that when Joseph was just a carpenter? It cost money to travel! He didn’t have to buy a ticket on the donkey, but they needed food and other necessities for their travels. Maybe they carried a tent with them and other equipment for camping.

They also had to live in a foreign country amongst foreigners for several years, possibly without a job, and probably without knowing the language at first. But they had to have some money to live on.

Remember, one of the wise men had given Jesus a gift of gold? That would’ve given them plenty of money to live on. Wasn’t God wonderful? He took care of them and provided their every need.

After Joseph and Mary left Bethlehem with Jesus, King Herod ordered his soldiers to go to Bethlehem to find and kill Jesus. But due to God having warned Joseph, King Herod’s plan failed.

Several years later God told Joseph, “You can go home to Nazareth because the danger has passed, King Herod is dead.” So they traveled back home to Nazareth.

They had been gone for quite a long time, and their family and friends must have wondered what had happened to them. They had gone away to Bethlehem as a young couple with Mary pregnant, and they returned with a growing boy!

Jesus probably learned a lot from the people in Egypt. That was a very technologically and culturally advanced country in those days. It’s where God sent Moses to get his education too.

This also fulfilled a prophecy about the Son of God coming from Egypt.

“And out of Egypt have I called My son.” 5

And that’s the story of the very first Christmas, over 2,000 years ago!—And the wonderful thing is Jesus is still here with us today!

God bless and keep you and make you a blessing. And like the song says, “May all your Christmases be bright.”

The End

Footnotes:
1 Matthew 2:6 NKJV
2
Matthew 2:11 NIV
3
Matthew 2:12 TLB
4
Matthew 2:13–15 TLB
5
Hosea 11:1 NKJV 

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 Three (Japanese)
RTF: El fascinante relato de la primera Navidad, 3ª parte
DOC: A Fascinante História do Primeiro Natal, 3ª Parte