Today’s Bethleham looks nothing like my child’s heart knows it truly was.
Luke 2:1-33 King James Version
The Christmas Story
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; because he was of the house and lineage of David:
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;
And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
Matthew 2:1-12 New International Version
The Magi Visit the Messiah
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.
The four Gospel stories of the significance of Jesus’ birth.
Mark writes nothing about Jesus’ birth. He starts with John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, begging the people to prepare for the coming of the Lord. In writing to the Romans, Mark emphasizes that it is not important where a person is born, nor their family’s status socially or financially. What matters is serving others as Jesus showed by example.
Matthew begins with Jesus’ ancestors, family line, which included Abraham and King David. Matthew shows Jesus’ birth was prophesized in the Old Testament. In writing specifically to the Jews, he describes Jesus as King, Messiah, and the Son of God.
Matthew tells of the wise men following the star, which foretold the birth of a King; they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Herod, a wicked murderous King planned to kill the baby Jesus. The family was warned by an angel to flee to Egypt, to protect the baby, Emmanuel, God With Us.
Luke’s Gospel gives a detailed description of Jesus’ birth. Mary and Elizabeth are chief characters to whom the angel first appears. Mary and Joseph were poor, unwed, and unwanted in Bethlehem, no room in the inn that night. God’s Son was born in a stable surrounded by animals; a feeding trough became his crib. Poor shepherds are the first to see and hear the angel choir, and are told of the miraculous birth which brings Peace and Goodwill to all. Afraid, though mesmerized, the shepherds hurry to follow the star. In writing to the Gentiles, Luke shares the Good News with women, children, and others ostrasized by all.
For John, Jesus was God; Jesus was The Word; Jesus was present at the beginning of Creation … all that is and was created. John describes the birth of Jesus, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John writing his gospel for Greek-speaking Gentiles, teaches that Jesus, The Word, wishes to abide with us all, showering us with Grace, Mercy, and Truth. Jesus, God, shines His light upon us, and blesses us with life everlasting.
In review, the four Gospels present different versions of Jesus’ birth, emphasizing different aspects of the why of Jesus’ birth and a description of the missions Jesus undertook.
Matthew made it known; Jesus was King of the Jews, Emmanuel, God With Us.
Mark begins with John the Baptist, preparing the way of the Lord. He writes it is not important where a servant is born and of what family, only that they serve others.
Luke shows a Savior that brings Good Tidings to the poor and neglected.
John, who was one of the original disciples, describes Jesus as God from the beginning of Creation, as the Word made flesh, shining in the darkness, bring a new beginning in this world.
God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, please guide my study of Your Word so that I may discern the truth. Travel with me upon my pilgrimage to the Holy Lands. Continue to teach, inspire, expand, and solidify my faith and trust in You. Amen
Please click on the following, one of my favorite Christmas songs.
Mary Did You Know
Lyrics written by this performer, Mark Lowry
Music by Buddy Greene