A young woman named Mary grew up in a small town in Galilee. She was planning to marry a young man named Joseph. While Mary was tending to her daily activities an amazing event transpired in her life. All of a sudden an angel, Gabriel, appeared to her. He exclaimed, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled. But the angel told her not to be afraid. God had looked down from heaven and was about to give her a special privilege. The angel told her, “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the Name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.”
Mary had never been with a man and was still a virgin. She did not understand how this would happen. She answered Gabriel with these doubts. Gabriel comforted Mary with these words, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.” God would set up His tent over Mary, His seed would overshadow her seed, and a Son would be born. Mary responded saying, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Gabriel left Mary. Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant also. Mary poured out her heart to the Lord for His goodness and grace toward her.
When Joseph heard about Mary’s pregnancy, he did not understand. He decided not to expose her to public disgrace, so he would divorce her quietly. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. In the dream the angel told Joseph that the child she was bearing was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The angel confirmed to Joseph the name of this child, Jesus. When Joseph woke up, he married Mary, but had no union with her until she had Jesus.
Early in their marriage and while Mary was about to give birth to Jesus, a decree went out from the Roman government. A census was going to be taken for tax purposes and everyone was required to return to their ancestral home. Since Mary and Joseph were of the house of David, they left for Bethlehem. When they arrived there was no where to stay, so they set up for the night in a manger. During the night Mary went into labor and gave birth to a little boy. She wrapped him tightly in cloths and placed Him in a feeding trough. The little King was born! An angel announced to shepherds outside of Bethlehem that a Savior had been born tonight and they would find Him in the feeding trough wrapped up in cloths. Very quickly a multitude of angels filled the sky before the shepherds. They sang praises to God:
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
The shepherds ran to Bethlehem to see the newborn King. When they saw him, they told others what had happened to them while they tended their sheep. Others were amazed at what they said. They returned to the fields glorifying and praising God for His great goodness to them.
Mary and Joseph traveled to Jerusalem to present their little son at the temple for his circumcision on the eighth day. They named Him, Jesus, which means Jehovah Saves. While they were there, Simeon, a righteous and devout man, who had been waiting for the consolation of Israel found the young couple. Simeon took the little baby in his arms and praised God for allowing him the privilege of seeing the One who would save all peoples of the earth. Mary and Joseph marveled at what was said about Jesus. Simeon handed Jesus back to Mary and prophesied that she would have her heart pierced by the events that would take place around her little boy. Also at the temple a very old woman named Anna, who was a prophetess, spoke to Mary and Joseph. Anna saw in Jesus the redemption of Israel. Mary and Joseph were amazed at all that had taken place. They returned to Nazareth.
In Nazareth, Mary watched as her little boy grew. One day she was tending to her daily tasks when she was visited by men from the east. These Magi had seen a star and knew that it pointed to the birth of a King. They left Persia to worship the King. Arriving in Israel the men went to find out about the King that was to be born. This inquiry disturbed King Herod and he searched the prophets to find our where this king was to be born. Micah 5:2 stated that “out of you (Bethlehem) will come a ruler.” Herod found out when the star appeared. He sent the Magi to Bethlehem and told them to return to him with the news about the child. While on their way the star appeared and they were led to a house (in Nazareth). Here they found Mary and the child, and bowed down and worshiped him. They brought gifts of gold, of incense, and of myrrh. They did not return to Herod, but went home by another route.
This visit brought danger to Jesus and all the little boys in Bethlehem who were under two years old. Herod had been outwitted by the Magi and he ordered that all the little boys under two be killed. However Joseph had been warned in a dream to leave, so during the night after the visit of the Magi he left for Egypt. Jesus was safe here.
After Herod died, an angel appeared to Joseph telling him to return to Israel. Joseph picked up his family and they settled in Nazareth. Here Jesus grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom and God’s grace was on him. Every year Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem for Passover. When he was twelve he stayed behind in the temple courts amazing the teachers by his questions and his insight into the law. He continued to grow in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and men, until he appeared at the age of thirty before John the Baptist to begin His ministry of teaching and healing.