12-The Mystery of Childhood

Highlighting Children in the Bible

Part 12: The Birth and Childhood of Jesus

The Annunciation

1 Annunciation

The Bible tells us how Jesus left heaven to come to this world as a tiny baby. The story began when an angel, called Gabriel, appeared one day before a young girl whose name was Mary. Knowing how frightened she’d be at seeing an angel, his first words were, “Peace be with you! God has blessed you.”

In spite of the gentle voice and words,  Mary felt herself shaking because she’d never seen an angel before. “Don’t be afraid Mary,” the angel said, “I’ve come to tell you that you’re going to have a baby boy, and you must call Him Jesus. Also, your cousin Elizabeth is going to have a baby very soon, and he will prepare the way for son Jesus.”

Mary didn’t know what to say, but in her heart she knew that something special was about to happen. So she said softly, “Let it be done as you have told me.”

Mary visits Elizabeth

2 Mary-Meets-Elizabeth-by-William-Brassey-Hole-wikigallery.com-US-public-domain

When the angel left her, Mary wondered what she should do. After thinking for a while  she decided to go and visit her cousin Elizabeth who lived in Judea, an area which was about 80 miles away from Nazareth where she lived. In those days they didn’t have cars, buses or trains. Travelers went on foot or joined a caravan of travelers on camel.  Now why did she feel she think she had to see Elizabeth?  Because the angel had visited her too, so they could encourage one another, and also, Mary knew that her cousin was older and wiser than her.

At this time Mary was “promised,” to a man called Joseph, but they were not yet married. Joseph would not be the father of Jesus, but he was a good man who worked hard, and he would help Mary to protect Jesus while He was a child.

When Mary reached the home of her cousin, Elizabeth greeted her with amazing words that we find in the Bible, “How blessed you are Mary, because you have believed what the angel told you.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth and her husband Zecharia for quite a while and then returned to her home in Nazareth.

Bethlehem

3 Bethlehem ,_from_southwest

At that time, just before Jesus was born, Israel was governed by a mighty kingdom called Rome, and the Emperor Augustus whole ruled over it, sent a message to all the people announcing that everyone had to return to the town where they came from and register, or write their names on a list there, so that the government would be sure that each family had paid their taxes. Since Joseph’s family came from Bethlehem they had to leave Nazareth where they lived and go all the way to the little town of Bethlehem that was in Judea. Mary knew that this would be even more tiring than when she went to see Elizabeth because her baby would be coming very soon.

4 Mary-Jos no rmWhen they finally reached Bethlehem, there was no room for them to stay in.

5 Mary & Baby JAll that could be offered to them was a stable for animals where Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God.

Mary took the precious baby and held him to her heart, and then she wrapped him in some special clothes and laid Him in a manger-bed.

Shepherds

6 Shepherds

That night, just outside the town of Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their sheep when an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. The Bible tells us that, “The, angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a mange. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'” When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us” (NASB Luke 2:9-15).

7 Shepherds & nativity_RGB

Sure enough, when the shepherds reached the newborn baby, they knelt down and worshiped Him and my, how happy and excited they all were. They’d waited so long for the Messiah, and now He’d actually come—and they saw him with their own eyes. No wonder the angels had sung so happily. All of this was indeed “good news” to them and to the whole world.

It was hard to leave the precious baby, but their sheep needed them, so they hurried to their fields, though when they met people along the way, they just had to tell them what they’d seen. We don’t know what they said, but their excited voices and wide eyes must have made others excited too. Alas, though many were thrilled, others probably made fun of them by making rude remarks like, “What do you know about such things you ignorant fools?” But the shepherds paid no attention. They knew exactly what they heard and saw. Never would they forget it. And those special words that rang in their ears were later written down in God’s book, “Unto you is born in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 ESV). How wonderful is that?

Baby Jesus Presented in the Temple

When they arrived they were met by a vey old man whose name was Simeon, who knew God’s Word well, because he studied it a lot. He knew that the prophets had announced a coming Messiah and he’d also been promised by God that he himself would not die before he got to see Him with his own eyes.

8 baby-jesus-in-the-temple

When Simeon saw Jesus, he took the baby in his arms and thanked God by saying words like “… You’ve kept your promise to me that I would see your Messiah who is a light to the world. Now I’ll be ready to leave this earth any time.”

9 Anna

The Bible also tells  us that in that beautiful temple in Jerusalem there was a dear old woman who had lost her husband many years before, who stayed in the temple to pray and worship God all the time. She too was sure that the Messiah would come soon, and when she saw the baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph, she knew that He had come at last. Now her heart was overflowing with joy. God had kept His promise to her as well.

Wise Men

11 Visit WiseMen

When things calmed down in Bethlehem some of the visitors left town, but Mary and Joseph decided to live there for a while. It was there that Jesus grew and began walking and was He ever cute. Everyone who saw Him loved Him and little children especially liked to play with Him.

When Jesus was almost two years old some important people called wise men came from a far country to see Him. All along the way they’d followed a special star that led them to the house where Jesus was, and there—at last—they found Him. With happy and thankful hearts they knelt before Him and gave Him beautiful presents. All along they’d known He was their king and long-awaited Savior. How did they know? Because, as wise men do, they’d studied a lot of books and especially God’s book that told that He would come.

Twelve-Year-Old Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem

13 Jesus in Temple

As a Jewish boy Jesus began school with his mother as his teacher, and when he was five he went to a synagogue where teachers called rabbis taught Him to read and to write on papyrus scrolls and to learn about God’s Law. When He was ten years old he probably went to another school where he learned the Hebrew language and memorized large parts of God’s Word and other writings. At that age he also had to learn the Greek and Hebrew language.

14 Jesus & fatherJesus and Joseph

At this time Jesus helped Joseph who was a carpenter and perhaps a builder as well. No doubt he recited to him parts of God’s Word that He’d learned by heart, 12 feast dayand when he reached twelve he could go with his parents to the feast of Passover, which was the most important of the three feasts that were celebrated each year in Jerusalem.

Passover

How happy he must have been when he, along with many other people, walked up the hill to Mount Zion, singing or reciting out loud passages that were precious to them all. By this time Jesus was twelve years old and understood many things that most children today don’t think about. He knew that at the feast of Passover a perfect lamb would be slain and laid on the altar of sacrifice. Why? To take away the sins of all who had done wrong things and were sorry. He also knew that soon, God’s perfect and final sacrifice would be made! As He looked a long time at that altar of sacrifice where a bleeding lamb lay, He knew that He himself would become that perfect sacrifice. Why? Because He had never sinned and God had sent Him to this world to become that Perfect Sacrifice for you and me.

Jesus Says Strange Words

He thought about all these things as he stood in the temple and talked with all kinds of people, and especially those who had studied about these matters, so he didn’t notice when His parents started home with the rest of the travelers from Nazareth.

It wasn’t until they’d gone a long distance before they realized that Jesus was not with them. Where could He be?

16 Jesus in temple

All they could do was to return to Jerusalem where they looked all over the city of Jerusalem and then, where do you suppose they found Him? In the temple court, of course, where important teachers liked to discuss difficult questions. There He was asking these teachers questions that shocked them because children don’t usually know such deep matters.

His parents at first scolded Him by telling Him how anxious they’d been over him, but Jesus answered, “Didn’t you know that I must be about my father’s business?”

The words shocked His parents because they now realized that Jesus was entering a time when His lifework was beginning. Jesus, of course, continued to obey his mother and his adoptive father, but already He was thinking deep thoughts about God—His heavenly Father—who had sent him into the world to save us all.

 

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