A few months later, when Mary's baby was
due to be born, the Romans (who ruled over Israel at
the time) decided to have all the Israelites counted.
Each Jewish man had to go back to his home town - the
town where his ancestors had come from - and for Joseph
that town was Bethlehem. It was a rough and dangerous
journey to make in those days and, on their arrival
in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph were disturbed to find
that all the inns were full. However, a kindly innkeeper
took pity on them and offered them the use of the stable
area of his inn where he kept his animals. That night,
in the warmth and shelter of the stable, Mary had her
baby. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid
him in the manger.
Outside that night, in the fields around
Bethlehem, shepherds were watching their flocks. Huddled
around the fire in the darkness, they spoke in quiet
whispers, all the time listening for any movement amongst
the sheep that might tell them a wild animal was prowling
Suddenly, the quiet night sky was ablaze
with light and an angel stood before them. They were
terrified, but the angel told them not to be afraid.
He had come to tell them that the Saviour had been born
and that they would find him in Bethlehem, the city
of David. A great host of angels then joined him and
the air was filled with their singing as they poured
forth praise and thanksgiving to God.
The angels left and, as the sound of their
singing died away, the sky slowly sank back into darkness.
The shepherds had to see the new baby! Racing across
the fields, it did not take them long to reach the stable
in which were Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Falling on their
knees, the shepherds worshipped the little Lord Jesus.
However, it was not only Jews who were
looking for a great King. There were wise men in the
east who, whilst studying the stars at night, saw that
one shone with special brightness. This star, they believed,
was the sign that a great King had been born.
Having quickly packed up provisions for
the long journey ahead, they set off for Jerusalem in
the land of Judea. Where better to start looking for
a new King than in the capital city? Cruel king Herod
was on the throne, however, and he was none-too-pleased
to learn that a new King had been born! He quickly sent
for his religious leaders to find out where this King
was to be born. They told him "in Bethlehem"
so he summoned the wise men and told them to go to Bethlehem.
"When you have found him, tell me where he is so
that I can go and worship him, too" he said.
When the wise men left the palace, the
star was there to guide them. They followed it until
it stopped over the little house where Mary, Joseph
and Jesus were living. The wise men knelt before the
small child and worshipped him. Then they offered him
the gifts they had brought for him - Gold, Myrrh and
After being warned by God not to go back
to Herod, the wise men returned to their own land. Furious
at being tricked, Herod ordered his soldiers to kill
every boy under the age of two, but Jesus was safe.
God's angel had warned Joseph in a dream and the little
family made their way to Egypt where they lived until
God told them it was safe to return to Nazareth.