An Account of The Good News
The Birth of Jesus
The birth of Jesus, the Savior (a descendant of Abraham, and heir of King David), happened this way: Mary, His mother, was officially engaged to a man named Joseph. However, before the actual wedding feast took place, she was found to be carrying a child. Her husband-to-be, Joseph, although a scrupulous man, was yet unwilling to disgrace Mary in public, so he resolved to break the marriage contract as quietly as possible. But how? While he was thinking over various ways and means to secretly accomplish this divorce, an angel of God appeared to him in a dream:
“Heir of David!”
“Do not scruple to accept Mary as your wife. The child she bears was conceived not through the agency of any man, but by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. She will bear this son to you, and you are to name him, Yeshua [i.e. Jesus (Greek), Joshua (English), Jesús (Spanish)], meaning ‘Savior’, for He will save His people from their enemies and deliver them from sin.”
When Joseph woke up, the words of the angel were still so clear in his mind, he resolved to do what the angel had asked. He accepted Mary as his wife but had no relationship with her until she had given birth to the son, whom he named Jesus.
King Herod and the Three Wise Men
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, Judea, during the time when Herod was king of that region [37-4 B.C.]. One day, some time after His birth, three learned astrologers from the East paid their respects at Herod’s palace, and their spokesman inquired, “Where is the Child who is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw His star in the East and have come here to pay Him homage.”
When the news of this herald was carried to King Herod, he was greatly disturbed; and all his attendants and courtiers were equally agitated. So, calling together all the high priests and the foremost Scripture teachers in Jerusalem (both Sadducees and Pharisees), Herod asked them, “Where exactly has this heavenly Savior been born?”
“In Judean Bethlehem,” they answered. “For it is plainly stated by the prophet, Micah: ‘You, Bethlehem, are home to few in number among the thousands who live in the region of Judea; yet from you, Bethlehem, shall a king come forth to Me, who will rule My people, Israel. His birth and His succession were appointed from the very beginning of time—indeed from eternity itself!’ [Micah 5:2 LXX]”.
Herod decided to interview the wise men secretly. Without telling his advisers or the nation’s religious leaders, he craftily ascertained the exact time when the astrologers had seen the newborn king’s star first appear in the sky. Then he told them what they wanted to know. “Go to Bethlehem in Judea,” he said, “and search high and low for this Child. When you find Him, be sure to come back and tell me, so that I also may go to Bethlehem to worship Him.”
So the astrologers set out for Bethlehem as King Herod suggested. At nightfall, they saw the star. It did not move but seemed to stand still in the sky. And thus they eventually came to Bethlehem and marked out a place directly beneath the star.
When they saw the house marked out by the star, the astrologers couldn’t contain their joy. Without a by-your-leave, they entered the house and found the Child with His mother, Mary. Falling down on their knees, they worshipped Him. Then, opening the treasures they’d brought with them from the East, they gave Him gifts. One offered Him gold. Another presented Him with a delicately carved jar containing [the sweet-smelling, energizing] resin of frankincense. The third had a similar gift for the child: a jar filled with a highly-prized aromatic resin called myrrh, [renowned for its ability to relieve pain. (Mixed with olive oil, myrrh and frankincense were also used to anoint kings and high priests)].
That night, as they slept in the house, each of the astrologers were warned in similar dreams not to go back to King Herod. So they took the southern road to Hebron and returned to their own country by a circuitous route that went nowhere near Jerusalem.
Soon after the wise men had taken their departure, one of God’s messengers—an angel—appears in a dream to Joseph and says, “Get up! You must flee to Egypt straightaway. Collect what you need and take the Child and His mother with you; for Herod intends to conduct a search for the Child. He wants to kill Him, so stay in Egypt until I tell you it’s safe to return.”
The very next night, Joseph escaped with Mary and the Child to Egypt. And there they stayed.
It took some time for King Herod to realize that he’d been tricked by the wise men. Utterly enraged, he sent his soldiers into Bethlehem and the surrounding countryside with orders to kill all the male children who were two years old or younger, basing this cutoff point from the birth date he’d ascertained from the wise astrologers.
When Herod died, the angel of the Lord God re-appeared to Joseph in a dream, while he slept in his temporary home in Egypt. “Tomorrow, you will take the Child and His mother, and return to Israel. It’s now safe to return. Those who wanted to kill the child are dead.”
Of course, Joseph did as the angel had commanded. However, as soon he crossed the border at Gaza, he learned that Herod’s son, Archelaus, had inherited his father’s kingdom of Judea. So he was afraid to return there. In a dream, he was advised to go to Galilee instead. So there he went with Mary and the Child, and settled in a town called Nazareth.