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Discovering the Son of God

What the Angels Said

Mary was a young woman who was planning to marry. Her future husband was named Joseph. They were both good, religious people.

One day an angel came to Mary’s home. Angels are spirit beings. They are the messengers of God. They look like men when they appear to people. This angel was named Gabriel. Gabriel came from the presence of God. He said, "Greetings, highly favored one. The Lord is with you. You are blessed among women."

Mary was puzzled. These words seemed strange to her.

Gabriel said, "Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is pleased with you. You will become pregnant and have a son. Name him Jesus. He will be great. He will be called the Son of God. He will rule as king forever."

Those were strong words. Mary didn’t understand. She said, "How can this be, since I have never slept with a man?"

Gabriel said, "You will become pregnant by God’s power. The child that is born to you will be holy. He will be the Son of God."

Mary became pregnant.

Joseph learned about Mary’s expected baby. Joseph didn’t know about the angel’s message. He thought Mary had been with another man. He decided not to marry her.

Mary hadn’t been with another man, but only she and God knew that truth. God helped Mary. He sent an angel to Joseph. The angel spoke to him in a dream while he slept. The angel explained that God had formed the baby in Mary’s body without a man. The baby would be the Son of God. Joseph believed the angel. He and Mary married but didn’t sleep together before the baby was born.

Joseph and Mary lived in Judah. We would call their country Israel today. They were Jewish. The Romans ruled over Judah. The Romans also ruled most of the Middle East and Europe.

When the Roman Emperor decided to count everyone, it disturbed many lives. The Emperor ordered every man to go to his home city to be counted. Many people still lived where their families had always lived. Others had moved far away. Joseph’s family came from Bethlehem. Joseph lived north of Bethlehem in a place called Nazareth. It would take about three days to travel to Nazareth. Mary was nearly ready to give birth to her special baby. It was not a good time to travel, but they must obey the Emperor.

Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was a small town. It was also a famous town. An important king, David, had been born in Bethlehem almost 1,000 years before. Joseph and Mary were part of David’s family. Sadly, David’s family were no longer kings. People believed God would someday cause a special man from David’s family to become king again. They called this man the Christ. It was about the time the prophets said Christ should come. The promise that Mary’s baby would be the king and the Son of God meant he would be Christ.

Bethlehem was crowded. Joseph and Mary could not find a place to stay. The only hotel in town was full. At last they were allowed to stay in a barn. Mary’s baby was born that night. He was born in the barn. His bed was a manger. A manger is a box for animals to eat from. They named the baby Jesus. The Son of God would live as an ordinary poor person.

When God chose to tell people about His Son, He did not tell the king of the Jewish people. He did not tell the Roman Emperor. He did not tell important people. Instead He chose to tell farmers and foreign scholars.

The farmers were shepherds, who raise sheep. These shepherds were camping in the country near Bethlehem when Jesus was born. They were guarding their sheep throughout the night. All at once, the light shined around them. An angel stood by the shepherds. Angels have never appeared often, not even in the Bible. The shepherds were terrified by this visitor from Heaven.

The angel said, "Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. A Savior has been born for you in the City of David. This Savior is Christ. He is the Lord. Many angels joined that angel. They sang "Glory to God in the highest. Peace and good will to humans." Then the angels left.

The shepherds were excited. They hurried to Bethlehem. They found the barn. They came in and saw Jesus with Mary and Joseph.

The shepherds were not rich men. They could not bring fine gifts to the Son of God, but they still cared. They told everyone they saw what had happened. They praised God for what He was doing.

Far away, another group of men learned of Jesus. These men were scholars. We usually call them wise men. These men had studied much. They studied about stars. They believed one star was special. They thought it meant a king had been born in Judah. He would be King of the Jews. They knew a little about God. They knew enough to believe the King of God’s people was special. He was special enough for them to travel a great distance to honor Him.

The wise men traveled many kilometers. They went directly to the old king of the Jews. A new king must surely be the king’s son. But the future king wasn’t in the king’s palace. The old king, Herod the Great, didn’t know about any new baby king.

Herod the Great wasn’t the natural king of the Jews. He was a foreigner the Roman Emperor had appointed as king. Herod was an evil man and a very jealous person. His jealousy caused him to kill people. He even killed his own wife and sons. Any future king needed to stay far from Herod.

Herod was also smart. He knew God had promised to send the Christ. For many years, prophets had said Christ would come. The writings of the prophets were in the Jews’ holy book, the Bible. Herod called the religious experts. He asked where God’s prophets expected Christ to be born.

The experts answered, "In Bethlehem."

Herod knew that Christ would be God’s special king. He was so selfish and jealous that he decided to kill Christ.

Herod couldn’t tell his plan to the wise men who wanted to honor Christ. He tried to trick the wise men. He said, "Go and look carefully for the young child. Then, come and tell me where He is. I want to worship Him too."

The wise men left. They only knew the new king was in Bethlehem. They would have to search for Him carefully. Then, they looked up. The same star that had told them about the new king was in the sky. They traveled toward the star. The star moved and stopped right over the place where the baby was. Some people think this moving star was really a planet. There are many things we don’t know about that star. We do know that God used it to lead the wise men to Jesus.

The wise men went in. They saw the baby. They worshiped Him. They gave Him expensive presents of gold and spices. Then they left.

God protected His Son. He caused the wise men to dream. He spoke to them through the dream. He told them to go home another way. They were not to tell the king where the Son of God was. The wise men obeyed God.

Then God caused Joseph to have another dream. An angel spoke to him in his dream. The angel said he should take the Son of God and his mother and escape. They should go to Egypt and hide because Herod wanted to kill Jesus. Joseph obeyed.

Herod was angry when the wise men didn’t come back. He killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem. He killed them because he didn’t want the Son of God to escape. But God protected His Son. Jesus had already left for Egypt.

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus lived in Egypt until Herod died. Then they returned home. They didn’t go to Bethlehem. They went back to Nazareth where they had lived before Jesus was born.

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