Tomorrow is the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth! What better way to celebrate than to read the Bible about it!
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Luke 2:1-7 NIV
Because of the census, Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem, his family’s hometown. Mary had Jesus in Bethlehem, fulfilling prophecy. Despite the humble way in which he was born, Jesus had many spectacular events after he was born.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
Luke 2:8-20 NIV
More angelic visits!!! An angel visited the shepherds to tell of Jesus’ birth and how they would find Jesus. Then, as if that wasn’t enough for the shepherds, an entire host of angels appeared, singing praises to God! Needless to say, the shepherds rushed off to see Jesus! Of course, after the shepherds saw Jesus, they too started praising God. So much joy and excitement!
Of course, Joseph and Mary continued to obey God and named the baby Jesus. This may seem like not a big deal to us, but it is a huge deal as it shows that they continually obeyed God in every aspect. They didn’t get caught up in what was going on and forget. They made sure to follow the instructions given by the angel months before. When it was time to name Jesus formally, they gave him the name he was supposed to have. In addition, they dedicated him at the temple and gave the sacrifices required by Jewish law. While they were at the Temple, two special events took place for Mary. The first was from Simeon, a man who had been promised that he would not die until seeing the Messiah. He confirmed Jesus as the Messiah and also gave Mary a hint of what was to come, for her and for Jesus.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Luke 2:25-35 NIV
After Simeon spoke to the family, Anna, a prophetess, also came forward and blessed the family.
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2:36-38 NIV
But the visits aren’t over! There have been angels, shepherds, and prophets, but now there are VIPs coming from the Far East to see Jesus! At this time, Jesus is not in the manger. He is in a house with Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 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, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2:1-12 NIV
Jesus’ first coming is already upsetting the earthly realms. King Herod is about to commit mass murder because of his fear of Jesus. So when the wise men leave, Joseph gets another angelic visit in his dreams.
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
Matthew 2:13-18 NIV
Joseph will receive two more dreams leading him out of Egypt and then to Galilee. We don’t focus a lot on Joseph because we typically focus on Jesus and Mary. However, Joseph was a very faithful man who received multiple dreams/visits from angels. His obedient actions led to the fulfillment of many prophecies regarding Jesus. As we remember Jesus’ birth, we should reflect on our own lives. Do we have the joy of the shepherds? Do we have the servant-hood of Mary? Do we have the obedience of Joseph? Do we have the generosity of the wise men?
Thank you for your arrival into this world. Help me to worship you with the joy of the shepherds, serve you without question like Mary, obey fully like Joseph, and be generous like the wise men. Help me to represent you the best I can.
As I celebrate Christmas today and tomorrow, fill my life with the joy only you can give.