The Christmas Story has evolved into a yearly tradition and is central to the Christian celebration of Christmas. It is also known as the Nativity story, which describes the historical events surrounding the birth of Jesus and is one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible. It describes how the God of Heaven, through ordinary people, sent His Son to Earth to be fully human in every way. In the small town of Bethlehem, he was born a normal baby boy. The Christmas tale goes like this:
An angel visits Mary–
Mary and Joseph were a married couple living in Nazareth, around 2000 years ago. One night, Angel Gabriel visited Mary and informed her that she would soon give birth to a child who would be named Jesus and who would be God’s son and that God would send his son to earth to save humanity.
Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth and Zechariah–
Mary travelled to Judah to see her cousin Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, after the angel Gabriel informed her that she was expecting a child. Mary was not the only one who became pregnant under unusual circumstances. Elizabeth and Zechariah had been married for years and were quite old, but they had never had children. Then, one day, while Zechariah was in the temple, an angel of God appeared to him and told him:
But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. (Luke 1:13, NIV)
Zechariah and his wife were at this point very old and had given up all hope of having children, so this came as a huge shock to them. The angel continued by informing Zechariah that his son John would play a significant role in the advent of the Messiah, i.e., Jesus Christ. The angel explained that John would be highly favoured in the eyes of the Lord, full of the Holy Spirit, and would help in guiding many people to God.
When Mary arrived at Elizabeth and Zechariah’s house, the baby leapt inside Elizabeth. This fulfilled the angel’s prophecy. Elizabeth knew immediately that Mary was pregnant with God’s Son, and they rejoiced together.
An angel of God visits Joseph–
When Joseph learned that Mary, his fiancée, was expecting a child but that he was not the father, it came as quite a shock. He was a good man, but he found it difficult to believe Mary’s story of the angel’s visit because it seemed so unlikely. This is where God intervened in Joseph’s life through a dream.
While Joseph was sleeping one night, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and gave him a message. The message was this: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21, NIV)
Joseph woke up from this dream and believed that what the angel had told him was true. So he followed the angel’s instructions and married Mary.
Travelling to Bethlehem–
Mary and Joseph sold their belongings in Nazareth, taking only what they could carry and their donkey with them. Mary rode on the donkey over the hills of Galilee, and Joseph walked beside her.
No room at the inn–
Unfortunately, when Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, all of the inns were full. But Mary was in her third trimester of pregnancy and needed to rest. Fortunately, they later met a kind innkeeper who allowed Mary and Joseph to spend the night in his stable.
That night in the stable, Mary gave birth to Jesus. She wrapped the newborn baby in a white cloth and placed him in a hay-filled manger.
The shepherds of Bethlehem–
While Mary, Joseph, and the newborn Jesus slept in the stable, shepherds on a hill overlooking Bethlehem noticed a bright star in the sky. As they gazed at the bright star that shone over the city, an angel descended from heaven and informed the shepherds that the Son of God had been born in the city and that they should go to him.
To find the newborn child, the shepherds left their herds and descended the hillside. They visited Mary, Joseph, and Jesus at the stable and knelt before them to pledge their love to the Son of God.
Three Wise Men travel across the desert–
Three wise men in the east saw a bright light in the sky as well. These wise men were kings from far-off lands east of Bethlehem. They took the bright star as a sign that a new king had been born, and they began to follow it.
In Jerusalem, where King Herod reigned, the three wise men followed the star. They assumed that the new king had been born to Herod. They spoke to Herod and asked to see the child who would be the King of the Jews. This news troubled Herod, who believed himself to be the King of Kings. The wise men left Jerusalem to continue their search.
Eventually, the three kings reached Bethlehem, knelt before the baby, and offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. That night, they all shared a dream from an angel. They were warned not to tell King Herod about Jesus’ whereabouts.
King Herod hears about Jesus’ birth
When the three kings did not return with news of Jesus’ whereabouts, King Herod became even more enraged. He was afraid of being overthrown, so he sent his soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all the baby boys.
Fortunately, Joseph had dreamed of Egypt, and he took Mary and Jesus there, knowing they would be safe from King Herod.