Hi, I’m not John King. Anyway, for my holiday season blog post, I decided to do something for which some of you will think I’m nuts: the Christmas story. You may be thinking, “It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!” Well, true; however, keep in mind that my family bought our Christmas trees November 23rd. And even if you do think I’m nuts, and in some ways I am, this isn’t one of them, and I’m a Christian, so I don’t care anyway. So let’s get started!
What I did here is that I combined the different books to get what I consider about the best possible Christmas story. So if something looks odd, that’s why.
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn. That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior– yes, the Messiah, the Lord– has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others– the armies of heaven– praising God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said. Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, and we have come to worship him.” Herod was deeply disturbed by their question, as was all of Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law. “Where did the prophets say the Messiah would be born?” he asked them. “In Bethlehem,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘O Bethlehem of Judah, you are not just a lowly village in Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod sent a private message to the wise men, asking them to come see him. At this meeting he learned the exact time when they first saw the star. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” After this interview the wise men went their way. Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But when it was time to leave, they went home another way, because God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up and flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to try to kill the child.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.” Herod was furious when he learned that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah: “A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah– weeping and mourning unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted– for they are dead.” When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and told him, “Get up and take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” So Joseph returned immediately to Israel with Jesus and his mother. But when he learned that the new ruler was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid. Then, in another dream, he was warned to go to Galilee. So they went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets concerning the Messiah: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
So that’s the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. And what’s even better is that it’s all true! Have a great holiday season, and thank God you’ve made it through another year!
Keep the pointy end forward, the dirty side down, and by all means, please… stay out of the trees!