A-Z: Famous stories from the Bible: Jesus, his birth


The nativityThe story of the birth of Jesus is perhaps the best known of the gospel stories because of its celebration at Christmas. The story is told in different forms in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. In Matthew's account, the events are seen through the eyes of Joseph, a man who is horrified to discover that Mary, to whom he is engaged, is pregnant before their marriage. In a dream, Joseph is assured that this is God's doing and that he should marry her at once. He does so, but does not sleep with her. After Jesus is born in Joseph's ancestral town of Bethlehem, the family flees from the fury of King Herod, who has had news of the birth of another 'king' from some wise men from the east. These magi have followed a star seeking out Jesus, to present him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Luke tells Mary's side of the story. It is announced to Mary by an angel named Gabriel that she is to become pregnant by the power of God's Holy Spirit, even though she is a virgin. She assents to this. Later, she and Joseph travel to Bethlehem for a Roman census and the baby is born in the squalor of a stable. But this is an event of 'great joy' proclaimed by angels to lowly shepherds, who immediately leave their sheep to pay the baby homage. Jesus is no ordinary baby, but God's son who will bring salvation to the world. This story is called the incarnation because God involved himself directly in the messiness of human life by becoming a human being in the person of Jesus.

Related Topics

Big ideas: Messiah, Christ, Jesus

Cultural References

Many Christmas carols

Bible References

Matthew 1:18-25 and Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:1-20
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.