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The Birth Of Jesus

15th June 2007, sjh

 

1) The Virgin Birth

The second section of the Bible starts with four quite similar Books, named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They are each named after their respective authors, and are historical accounts of the life of Jesus - the figurehead of Christianity. As they each record events from the same time period, there is a lot of overlap between the different books, and many incidents are recorded in each, with a different perspective each time.

As the standard Gregorian calendar is based on the estimated year of birth of Jesus, these incidents occurred around 1AD, although there is generally considered an uncertainty of about 5 years in the calendar. At that time, the region of Israel was under the control of the Roman Empire.

Jesus was marked out as someone special from the circumstances around his birth. At this time, the people of Israel were waiting for their “messiah” or saviour to appear - a person would be the great promised king to regain Israel's status of the former years. The incidents around Jesus' birth were indicating that he was to be this messiah.

The start of the record of Matthew is a genealogy showing the ancestors of Jesus. He was not only a descendant of Abraham, as were the rest of the Jewish people, but also a descendant of the kings of the old Israel, including David. That emphasises the connection between the Israel of the Old Testament, and the Christianity of the New Testament.

Following the genealogy, the circumstances of Jesus' birth are described,

Matthew 1

Matthew 1:18: Now the birth of Jesus Christ was like this; for after his mother, Mary, was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, intended to put her away secretly. 20 But when he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, don't be afraid to take to yourself Mary, your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She shall bring forth a son. You shall call his name Jesus, for it is he who shall save his people from their sins."

22 Now all this has happened, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying,

23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, And shall bring forth a son. They shall call his name Immanuel;" Which is, being interpreted, "God with us."

24 Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took his wife to himself; 25 and didn't know her sexually until she had brought forth her firstborn son. He named him Jesus. WEB

This section includes a quotation of a passage that had been written down many years earlier in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, “Behold, the virgin...”. This shows that the prophet at that time had been given a message from God about this event that was still 600 years in the future from the time of Isaiah's writing, and telling of a significant event.

This whole incident involves things happening the we don't normally see. It is about a power from God that can give people special and significant dreams, and to cause a virgin to become pregnant.

NEXT PAGE... Jesus' Early Life
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