While Joseph was engaged, before they had consummated their union, he discovered that she was already with child. He was a good man and did not want her to suffer any shame so he decided it would be best to divorce her quietly.
As he considered his options an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. The child that grows within her womb was conceived by the Holy Spirit; it will be a boy and you will name him Jesus because he has come to rescue men from sin.”
Now all of this came about to fulfill a prophecy spoken by Isaiah centuries before when he foretold of a virgin that would conceive and bear a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.
After Joseph awoke from his dream he did as he was told and wed Mary, but he did not consummate the marriage until after the child they named Jesus was born.
In those days, sometime during the spring of what we now calculate to be somewhere between 3 and 5 BC, Caesar Augustus called for census of the known Roman world. Everybody had to be enrolled, and each registered in the town of their heritage. So Joseph, being a descendant of David, took Mary with him from Galilee and they went to Bethlehem.
While they were there she delivered a child and put him in a manger because there were no rooms available in town.
And this is how we know it took place in the spring, because a group of shepherds in the vicinity of Bethlehem were out tending their sheep by night. An angel of the Lord also appeared to them, shining with the glory of the Lord, which frightened them to the very core.
But the angel said, “Do not be afraid! I bring you good news of joy for all the people of the world, for today a child is born in the city of David—a savior—who is Christ the Lord. This is how you will know it is true: you will find a babe wrapped in strips of cloth lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, a multitude of angels appeared in the heavens praising God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill toward men.”
After the angels disappeared from the sky, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go over to Bethlehem and see what God has shared with us with our own eyes.”
With haste they went until they found Mary, Joseph, and the child, lying in the manger just as they had been told. Afterward, they told everybody about what they had been told concerning this child, but Mary kept all these things to herself, pondering them in her heart.
In accordance with Jewish custom and law, Jesus was circumcised on the eight day and when the time came for their purification they took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. There they dedicated the child to God and made sacrifices of two turtledoves or two pigeons in accordance with the law.
It was there they met a man named Simeon, a righteous and devout man filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit had revealed to him that he would not pass from this earth before he had seen the Christ. So the spirit led him to the temple that day and when Mary and Joseph presented the child, he took him in his arms and blessed God saying, “Now let me leave this world in peace, Lord because my eyes have seen your salvation prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of your people of Israel.
Anna, an elderly widowed prophetess, who never left the temple because she worshiped with fasting and prayer both night and day, also gave thanks to God and spoke to all those looking for redemption in Jerusalem.
Wise men, Magi from East, came to Jerusalem after the birth of Christ asking, “Where is the child that has been born, the king of the Jews? We have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.”
When Herod heard of this, he was greatly troubled, as were many others in the city of Jerusalem, including the chief of priest and the scribes of the people. He gathered them together and asked them where the Christ was to born, they told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, as the prophets have foretold.”
Herod called for the Magi in secretly and ascertained the time at which the star had appeared, then he sent them onward to Bethlehem saying, “ God and find the child and when you do, please send me word so that I too may go and worship him.”
Once they resumed their journey, the star, which they had seen in the East, led them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. Upon seeing the star, they rejoiced and when they saw the child with his mother Mary they fell down and worshiped him and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
But God warned them in a dream not to return to Herod and so they to another route back to their home country. An angel appeared to Joseph in another dream and said, “Take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt until I tell you it is safe. Herod is about to search to the child in order to kill him.” There they remained until the death of Herod.
Herod, realizing the Magi had duped him, was furious. He ordered all the male children both in Bethlehem and throughout the region under the age of two put to death. This fulfilled a prophecy spoken by Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they were no more.”
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared again to Joseph down and Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and return home.”
So they returned to Galilee and the city of Nazareth, where the child grew and became strong in stature, filled with wisdom; and in favor with God and man.
The apostle John wrote that The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever should believe in him might have everlasting life.”
The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus brought Salvation to all mankind.
Peace! And on earth, goodwill toward men!