What Do We Know About The Birth Of Jesus?
The story of the birth of Jesus is recorded in Matthew chapters one and two and in Luke chapters one and two. The Bible tells us that in Elisabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, “the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.” (Luke 1:26-27) Mary was troubled by this visit. The angel said, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33)
Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem Ephratah as the prophet had predicted. (Micah 5:2) He slept His first earthy night in a manger. Shepherds came that night to see the wonderful thing that had taken place. These men spread the news about what they had seen and heard concerning Jesus. Some months or even more than a year later wise men from the east came to worship Jesus. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They went home a different way. In a very positive sense when people find the Lord they go home a different way. They are new in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17) As a small child Jesus was protected from Herod's wrath by being taken to Egypt. Jesus was to be king, but not like they thought. He rules over His spiritual kingdom, the church.
We do not know the date of Jesus’ birth. His birthday was celebrated on December 25th by some and by others on January 6th. The time from December 25 to January 6 became known as the Twelve Days of Christmas. The term “Christmas” came from the Catholic Church. It means Christ’s Mass. But from a Bible standpoint, what do we know about the Birth of Jesus?
We know that both Joseph and Mary were both descendants of David. The genealogy of Jesus is found in both Matthew one and Luke three. These genealogies are different because Matthew traced the ancestry of Joseph, while Luke traced the ancestry of Mary. Jesus was a legal heir to the throne of David by virtue of His lineage. This is very significant because the Bible had said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
We know that the prophets foretold things concerning Jesus' birth. Micah predicted the exact place of Jesus’ birth. The Book of Mormon says Jesus was born in Jerusalem. The book of Mormon is divided much like our Bible into books, chapter and verses. In a section called Alma 7:10 we read, “And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.” But God's prophet said, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:5-6) It was also prophesied that Jesus would be born of a virgin. (Isaiah 7:14) In Matthew 1:21-23 we read, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
We know that Mary was living at Nazareth when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. Zacharias and Elisabeth were old and had no children. Now in their old age Elisabeth is about to give birth to John. In her sixth month “the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.” (Luke 1:26-27) The virgin named Mary was troubled by the words of the angel. But she was reassured with the words, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.” After this message from the angel Mary went to see Elisabeth. She stayed three months with her. (Luke 1:39-40, Luke 1:56)
We know that Joseph was a just man and that he decided to put Mary away privately. Joseph’s response to the fact that Mary was pregnant was that of a righteous man. He was a just man and he did not want to expose Mary to public shame. (Matthew 1:18-19) Joseph is about to proceed with divorce privately instead of publicly. But an angel told Joseph to take Mary as his wife. “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)
We know that the descendants of David went to Bethlehem to be taxed. Tax always seems to be a problem. However, in the case of Jesus the taxing brought Mary and Joseph to the place where the prophet had said that the Messiah would be born and it brought them there at the correct time. “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.” (Luke 2:4-5) Although our taxes are high and no doubt some of the tax money is abused we are still blessed. Great roads, police protection, fire departments, orderly government and good schools are just a few of the benefits that our taxes provide. Let us thank God for the wonderful country in which we live. Mary and Joseph were at Bethlehem. “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.” (Luke 2:6-7) A manger is a trough or box of carved stone or wood construction used to hold food for animals.
We know that the birth of Jesus was announced to common people. His birth was not announced to earthly kings or magistrates. The message that was announced was, “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) This message was announced to “shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” The message that they heard from the angel of the Lord was to be good tidings of great joy for all people. They were told that they could find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. “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.” (Luke 2:16-17) We too, should spread abroad what we know about Jesus.
We know that Joseph and Mary devoutly followed both the Law of Moses and the customs of their day in connection with the birth of Jesus. The Law of Moses said, “And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.” (Leviticus 12:6-8) In Luke 2:22-24 we observe that Mary and Joseph followed the Law precisely. “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.” It should be observed that they brought the sacrifice of those that were too poor to offer a lamb. Jesus was a Jew so “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.” (Luke 2:21) He was named on the eight day according to the custom of that day.
We know that wise men from the east came to visit Jesus. We know neither the number of wise men nor how old Jesus was when they came. It is obvious that they did not come the night of His birth. They came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2) This caused Herod and all Jerusalem to be troubled. (Matthew 2:3) The chief priests and scribes knew that the Messiah should be born in Bethlehem of Judaea. Herod asked the wise men to bring him word of the king so he could worship Him. (Matthew 2:7-8) The wise men followed the star till it stood over a house, not over the stable. “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11) God told the wise men not to return to Herod but to go home by a different route. After the wise men left Jesus an angel told Joseph to flee into Egypt with Jesus and His mother. (Matthew 2:13-14) When Herod saw that he “was mocked of the wise men, he was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.” (Matthew 2:16-18)
We know that when Herod died Jesus was taken back to the land of Israel. “When Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.” (Matthew 2:19-20) There Jesus could fulfill His purpose of saving His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) Remember that, “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17)
If a person is wrong about Jesus Christ, he is wrong about salvation. Do you have a living faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? If so it is time to become a Christian now! To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized to be saved. (1 Peter 3:21) After baptism follow Jesus in faithfulness as He leads you home to heaven. (Revelation 2:10)
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA