JESUS IS BORN IN BETHLEHEM
SHEPHERDS VISIT THE BABY JESUS
Caesar Augustus, the emperor of the Roman Empire, has decreed that everyone must be registered. So Joseph and Mary must travel to the city of his birth, the city of Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem.
Many people are in Bethlehem to register. The only place that Joseph and Mary can find to stay is a stable, where donkeys and other animals are kept. Jesus is born there. Mary wraps him in strips of cloth and lays him in a manger, the place where food for the animals is put.
God must have seen to it that Caesar Augustus made this registration law. Why? Because this made it possible for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, the hometown of his ancestor King David. The Scriptures had long before foretold that this would be the city where the promised Ruler would be born.
What an important night this is! Out in the fields, a bright light gleams around a group of shepherds. It is Jehovah’s glory! One of God’s angels tells the shepherds: “Do not be afraid, for look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have. For today there was born to you in David’s city a savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this is a sign for you: You will find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” Suddenly, many more angels appear and say: “Glory in the heights above to God, and on earth peace among men of goodwill.”
When the angels leave, the shepherds say to one another: “Let us by all means go over to Bethlehem and see what has taken place, which Jehovah has made known to us.” (Luke 2:15) They go in a hurry and find the newborn Jesus just where the angel said they would. When the shepherds relate what the angel told them, all who hear about it are astonished. Mary cherishes all these sayings and draws conclusions in her heart.
Many people today believe that Jesus was born on December 25. But in the area of Bethlehem, December is rainy and cold. On occasion, it even snows. At that time of the year, shepherds would hardly be out in the fields overnight with their flocks. Also, it is unlikely that the Roman emperor would have required a people who were already inclined to revolt against him to travel for days in the dead of winter to register. Evidently, Jesus was born sometime in October.
Mary’s experiences in Bethlehem strengthened her faith in Jehovah’s promises.