Story Two

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 5
THE MANGER OF BETHLEHEM
SOON after the time when Jŏhn the Băṕ tĭst was born, Jṓ s̝eph, the carpenter of Năź a-rĕth, the husband of Mā́ ry̆, had a dream. In his dream he saw an angel from the Lord standing beside him. The angel said to him:
"Jṓ s̝eph, I have come to tell you, that Mā́ ry̆, the young woman whom you are to marry, will have a son, sent by the Lord God. You shall call his name Jesus, which means 'salvation,' because he shall save his people from their sins.”
Jṓ s̝eph knew from this that this coming child was to be the King of Ĭś̝ ra-el, of whom the prophets of the Old Testament had spoken so many times.
Soon after Jṓ s̝eph and Mā́ ry̆ were married in Năź a-rĕth, a command went forth from the emperor, A̤u-gŭś tus Cǽ s̝ar, through all the lands of the Roman empire, for all the people to go to the cities and towns from which their families had come, and there to have their names written down upon a list, for the emperor wished a list to be made of all the people under his rule. As both Jṓ s̝eph and Mā́ ry̆ had come from the family of Dā́ vid the king, they went together from Năź a-rĕth to Bĕth́ lĕ-hĕm, there to have their names written upon the list. For you remember that Bĕth́ lĕ-hĕm in Jū-dḗ ȧ, six miles south of Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, was the place where Dā́ vid was born, and where his father's family had lived for many years (see Story Four in Part Third).
It was a long journey from Năź a-rĕth to Bĕth́ lĕ-hĕm; down the mountains to the river Jôŕ dan, then following the Jôŕ dan almost to its end, and then climbing the mountains of Jū́ dah to the town of Bĕth́ lĕ-hĕm. When Jṓ s̝eph and Mā́ry came to Bĕth́-lĕ-hĕm they found the city full of people who, like themselves, had tome to have their names enrolled or written upon the list. The inn or hotel was fur, and there was no room for them; for no one but themselves knew that this young woman was soon to be the mother of the Lord of all the earth. The best that they could do was to go to a stable, where the cattle were kept. There the little baby was born, and was laid in a manger, where the cattle were fed.
On that night some shepherds were tending their sheep in a field near Bĕth́ lĕ-hĕm. Suddenly a great light shone upon them, and they saw an angel of the Lord standing before them. They were filled with fear, as they saw how glorious the angel was. But the angel said to them:
"Be not afraid; for behold I bring you news of great joy, which shall be to all the people; for there is born to you this day in Bĕth́ lĕ-hĕm, the city of Dā́ vid, a Savior who is Christ the Lord, the anointed king. You may see him there; and may know him by this sign: He is a new-born baby, lying in a manger at the inn.”
And then they saw that the air around and the sky above them were filled with angels, praising God and singing:
"Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace among men in whom God is well pleased.”
While they looked with wonder, and listened, the angels went out of sight as suddenly as they had come. Then the shepherds said, one to another:
"Let us go at once to Bĕth́ lĕ-hĕm, and see this wonderful thing that has come to pass, and which the Lord has made known to us.”
Then as quickly as they could go to Bĕth́ lĕ-hĕm, they went, and found Jṓ s̝eph, the carpenter of Năź a-rĕth, and his young wife Mā́ ry̆, and the little baby lying in the manger. They told Mā́ ry̆, and Jṓ s̝eph and others also, how they had seen the angels, and what they had heard about this baby. All who heard their story wondered at it; but Mā́ ry̆, the mother of the child, said nothing. She thought over all these things, and silently kept them in her heart. After their visit, the shepherds went back to their flocks, praising God for the good news that he had sent to them.
When the little one was eight days old they gave him a name; and the name given was "Jesus," a word which means "salvation"; as the angel had told both Mā́ ry̆ and Jṓ s̝eph that he should be named. So the very name of this child told what he should do for men; for he was to bring salvation to the world.
It was the law among the Jews̝ that after the first child was born in a family, he should be brought to the Temple; and there an offering should be made for him to the Lord, to show that this child was the Lord's. A rich man would offer a lamb, but a poor man might give a pair of young pigeons, for the sacrifice. On the day when Jesus was forty days old, Jṓ s̝eph and Mā́ ry̆ brought him to the Temple; and as Jṓ s̝eph the carpenter was not a rich man, they gave for the child as an offering a pair of young pigeons.
At that time there was living in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm a man of God named Sĭḿ e-on. The Lord had spoken to Sĭḿ e-on, and had said to him that he should not die until the Anointed King should come, whom they called "the Christ," for the word Christ means "anointed." On a certain day the Spirit of the Lord told Sĭḿ e-on to go to the Temple. He went, and was there when Jṓ s̝eph and Mā́ ry̆ brought the little child Jesus. The Spirit of the Lord said to Sĭḿ e-on:
"This little one is the promised Christ.”
Then Sĭḿ e-on took the baby in his arms and praised the Lord, and said
"Now, O Lord, thou mayest let thy servant depart,
According to thy word in peace,
For my eyes have seen thy salvation.
Which thou hast given before all the peoples
A light to give light to the nations,
And the glory of thy people Ĭś̝ ra-el.”
When Jṓ s̝eph and Mā́ ry̆ heard this, they wondered greatly. Sĭḿ e-on gave to them a blessing in the name of the Lord; and he said to Mā́ ry̆, "This little one shall cause many in Ĭś̝ ra-el to fall, and to rise again. Many shall speak against him; and sorrow like a sword shall pierce your heart also.”
You know how this came to pass afterward, when Mā́ ry̆ saw her son dying on the cross. While Sĭḿ e-on was speaking, a very old 'Woman came in. Her name was Ăń nȧ, and God spoke to her as to a prophet. She stayed almost all the time in the Temple, worshipping God day and night. She, too, saw, through the Spirit of the Lord, that this little child was Christ the Lord, and gave thanks to God for his grace.
Thus early in the life of Jesus God showed to a few that this little child should become the Savior of his people and of the world.
Lesson 2. The Stable and Shepherds.
(Tell Story 2 in Part Sixth.)
1. Who was the husband of Mary, the young woman in Nazareth to whom the angel came? A man named Joseph.
2. To what place did Joseph and Joseph go? To Bethlehem, near Jerusalem.
3. Where was the child of Mary born? In a stable in Bethlehem.
4. What name was given to this child? The name Je'sus.
5. What does the word Je'sus mean? It means "salvation.”
6. Why was this name given to this child? Because he is the Savior of the world.
7. To what people were brought the first news that the Savior had come? To shepherds near Bethlehem.
8. What did the shepherds do as soon as they heard the news? They went to Bethlehem and saw the little child and his mother.
9. Who saw the child when he was brought into the Temple, knew that he was the Savior, and took him up in his arms? Simeon.
10. What woman also saw the child and gave thanks to God? Anna.