Shout for Joy
Of the books I’ve written there is none that gives me greater pleasure than my gospel harmony entitled Jesus, In His Own Words. On this eventful day that changed the world not only for time but for eternity we celebrate the entrance of God into his own creation in the person of His Son Jesus. The inspired story of His life among us is told by the four gospel writers and my translation arranges the four accounts in proper order and allows Jesus to be his own narrator. Enjoy with me The Nativity Story.
My mother, Mary, was pledged in marriage to Joseph, but during the required year of waiting prior to the actual marriage, while she was still a virgin, it became apparent that she was pregnant. Joseph was a good man and reluctant to humiliate Mary in public (Deut. 22:23-27 calls for the stoning of a betrothed woman who’s had sex with a man), so he planned to cancel the engagement quietly without pressing charges.
While he was considering this course of action, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, of the line of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, for the child in her womb is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
This took place to fulfill what the Lord had promised through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will give him the name Emmanuel,” which means ‘God is with us.’”
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did what he had been told by the angel and took Mary home to be his wife. However, he allowed her to remain a virgin until she had given birth to a son whom he would name Jesus.
About that time an edict was sent out from Caesar Augustus (the first Roman emperor) that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world for the purpose of taxation. When this first census was taken, Quirinius was the governor of Syria. Everyone was required to return to their ancestral home in order to be registered.
Because he was a descendant of king David, my father, Joseph, went up from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea (king David’s town) to be registered. Mary, who was promised in marriage to him and was pregnant, went with him. While they were there in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have her baby. I was the child she bore, her firstborn. She wrapped me with strips of cloth, and laid me in a feed box for there was no room for us in the living quarters. (Matt 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-7)
Adoration by Shepherds and Wise Men
Not far away, there were some shepherds living out in the open fields, caring for their flock at night. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid! I bring you the good news of a great joy, which is for everyone everywhere. This very night in the city of David a Savior has been born for you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This is how you will recognize him: you will find the infant all wrapped up with strips of cloth and lying in a feed bin.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast heavenly entourage singing praises to God and declaring, “Glory to God in the heavenly realms, and on earth peace among those he has favored.”
When the angelic host left and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see this wondrous event that the Lord has told us about!”
So they hurried to Bethlehem and searched until they found Mary and Joseph; and there I was, lying in the feed bin. When they saw me for themselves, they told others all that the angel had said to them about me. And everyone who heard it marveled at what the shepherds had told them. But Mary, on the other hand, stored all these matters in her heart, often pondering how she could put them all together. Meanwhile, the shepherds returned to the fields, giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen, just as the angel had told them.
At that time, some astrologers from the East arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star when it first appeared in the East and have come to pay homage to him.”
When reports of this reached king Herod, he was deeply disturbed, as was all Jerusalem. So he called together the chief priests and experts in the law and asked them if they knew where this king, the Messiah, was to be born.
“In Bethlehem of Judea,” they answered, “for that is what God promised through Micah the prophet:
“And you, O Bethlehem, are not just a lowly village in Judah, because from you will come a ruler who will care for my people Israel.”
Herod arranged a private meeting with the astrologers and learned from them exactly when the star had appeared. Then he sent them back to Bethlehem saying, “Do your best to find the child, and when you have found him, let me know so I can come and worship him.”"
Having heard what the king had to say, the wise men went on their way. Suddenly the same star they had seen in the East appeared once again and led them until it came to rest directly above the place where I lay. When they saw the star, they were ecstatic with joy. They entered the house and when they saw me in the arms of my mother, they fell to their knees and worshiped me. Opening their treasure chests they honored me with gifts — gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Then they went back to their own country, but by a different route, because God had warned them in a dream against going back to Herod again. (Matt 2:1-12; Luke 2:8-20)
Robert H Mounce