Sometime during the Christmas season, if you haven't already done so, it is good to read to your family, or yourself if you are not with family this year, the scriptures regarding the incarnation of our blessed Lord among men. I have put this together in one place, using the Knox English translation of bible, with some minor editing of thees and thous.
May God bless each and everyone during this Christmas Season, and bring you a blessed, and joyful New Year...
The First Christmas -
In the days when Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest called Zachary, of Abia’s turn of office, who had married a wife of Aaron’s family, by the name of Elizabeth, they were both well approved in God’s sight, following all the commandments and observances of the Lord without reproach. They had no child; Elizabeth was barren, and both were now well advanced in years. He, then, as it happened, was doing a priest’s duty before God in the order of his turn of office; and had been chosen by lot, as was the custom among the priests, to go into the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense there, while the whole multitude of the people stood praying outside, at the hour of sacrifice. Suddenly he saw an angel of the Lord, standing at the right of the altar where incense was burnt. Zachary was bewildered at the sight, and overcome with fear; but the angel said,
“Zachary, do not be afraid; your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son, to whom you shall give the name of John. Joy and gladness shall be yours, and many hearts shall rejoice over his birth, for he is to be high in the Lord’s favor; he is to drink neither wine nor strong drink; and from the time when he is yet a child in his mother’s womb he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost. He shall bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, ushering in his advent in the spirit and power of an Elias. He shall unite the hearts of all, the fathers with the children, and teach the disobedient the wisdom that makes men just, preparing for the Lord a people fit to receive him.”
And Zachary said to the angel,
“By what sign am I to be assured of this? I am an old man now, and my wife is far advanced in age.”
The angel answered,
“My name is Gabriel, and my place is in God’s presence; I have been sent to speak with you, and to bring you this good news. Behold, you shall be dumb, and have no power of speech, until the day when this is accomplished; and that, because you have not believed my promise, which shall in due time be fulfilled.”
And now all the people were waiting for Zachary, and wondering that he delayed in the temple so long; but he, when he came out, could speak no word to them; whereupon they made sure that he had seen some vision in the sanctuary. He could but stand there making signs to them, for he remained dumb.
And so, when the days of his ministry were at an end, he went back to his house. It was after those days that his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she lived hidden; she said,
“It is the Lord who has done this for me, visiting me at his own time, to take away my reproach among men.”
When the sixth month came, God sent the angel Gabriel to a city of Galilee called Nazareth, where a virgin lived, betrothed to a man of David’s lineage; his name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary. Into her presence the angel ca me, and said,
“Hail, you who are full of grace; the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.”
She was much perplexed at hearing him speak so, and cast about in her mind, what she was to make of such a greeting. Then the angel said to her,
“Mary, do not be afraid; you have found favor in the sight of God. And behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and shall bear a son, and shall call him Jesus He shall be great, and men will know him for the Son of the most High; the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob eternally; his kingdom shall never have an end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can that be, since I have no knowledge of man?”
And the angel answered her,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will overshadow you. Thus this holy offspring of your shall be known for the Son of God. See, moreover, how it fares with your cousin Elizabeth; she is old, yet she too has conceived a son; she who was reproached with barrenness is now in her sixth month, to prove that nothing can be impossible with God.”
And Mary said,
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”
And with that the angel left her.
In the days that followed, Mary rose up and went with all haste to a town of Judea, in the hill country where Zachary lived; and there entering in she gave Elizabeth greeting. No sooner had Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, than the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth herself was filled with the Holy Ghost; so that she cried out with a loud voice,
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. How have I deserved to be thus visited by the mother of my Lord? Why, as soon as ever the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you for your believing; the message that was brought to you from the Lord shall have fulfillment.”
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord;
my spirit has found joy in God, who is my Savior,
because he has looked graciously upon the lowliness of his handmaid.
Behold, from this day forward all generations will count me blessed;
because he who is mighty, he whose name is holy, has wrought for me his wonders.
He has mercy upon those who fear him, from generation to generation,
he has done valiantly with the strength of his arm,
driving the proud astray in the conceit of their hearts;
he has put down the mighty from their seat, and exalted the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty-handed.
He has protected his servant Israel,
keeping his merciful design in remembrance,
according to the promise which he made to our forefathers,
Abraham and his posterity for evermore.”
Mary returned home when she had been with her about three months; meanwhile, Elizabeth’s time had come for her child-bearing, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and her kinsfolk, hearing how wonderfully God had shown his mercy to her, came to rejoice with her; and now, when they assembled on the eighth day for the circumcision of the child, they were for calling him Zachary, because it was his father’s name; but his mother answered,
“No, he is to be called John.”
And they said,
“There is none of your kindred that is called by this name,”
and began asking his father by signs, what name he would have him called by. So he asked for a tablet, and wrote on it the words, His name is John; and they were all astonished. Then, of a sudden, his lips and his tongue were unloosed, and he broke into speech, giving praise to God; so that fear came upon all their neighborhood, and there was none of these happenings but was noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea. All those who heard it laid it to heart; Why then, they asked, what will this boy grow to be? And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.
Then his father Zachary was filled with the Holy Ghost, and spoke in prophecy:
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has visited his people, and wrought their redemption. He has raised up a scepter of salvation for us among the posterity of his servant David, according to the promise which he made by the lips of holy men that have been his prophets from the beginning; salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all those who hate us. So he would carry out his merciful design towards our fathers, by remembering his holy covenant. He had sworn an oath to our father Abraham, that he would enable us to live without fear in his service, delivered from the hand of our enemies, passing all our days in holiness, and approved in his sight. And thou, my child, will be known for a prophet of the most High, going before the Lord, to clear his way for him; you will make known to his people the salvation that is to release them from their sins. Such is the merciful kindness of our God, which has bidden him come to us, like a dawning from on high, to give light to those who live in darkness, in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
And as the child grew, his spirit achieved strength, and he lived in the wilderness until the day when he was made manifest to Israel.
And this was the manner of Christ’s birth. His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, but they had not yet come together, when she was found to be with child, by the power of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon her husband Joseph (for he was a right-minded man, and would not have her put to open shame) was for sending her away in secret. But hardly had this thought come to his mind, when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and said,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take your wife Mary to yourself, for it is by the power of the Holy Ghost that she has conceived this child; and she will bear a son, whom you shall call Jesus, for he is to save his people from their sins.”
All this was so ordained to fulfill the word which the Lord spoke by his prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). And Joseph awoke from sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, taking his wife to himself;
It happened that a decree went out at this time from the emperor Augustus, enjoining that the whole world should be registered; this register was the first one made during the time when Cyrinus was governor of Syria. All must go and give in their names, each in his own city; and Joseph, being of David’s clan and family, came up from the town of Nazareth, in Galilee, to David’s city in Judea, the city called Bethlehem, to give in his name there. With him was his espoused wife Mary, who was then in her pregnancy; and it was while they were still there that the time came for her delivery. She brought forth a son,whom she wrapped in his swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. and he had not known her when she bore him a son, her first-born, to whom he gave the name Jesus.
In the same country there were shepherds awake in the fields, keeping night-watches over their flocks. And all at once an angel of the Lord came and stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone about them, so that they were overcome with fear. But the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid; behold, I bring you good news of a great rejoicing for the whole people. This day, in the city of David, a Savior has been born for you, the Lord Christ himself. This is the sign by which you are to know him; you will find a child still in swaddling-clothes, lying in a manger.”
Then, on a sudden, a multitude of the heavenly army appeared to them at the angel’s side, giving praise to God, and saying,
“Glory to God in high heaven, and peace on earth to men that are God’s friends.”
When the angels had left them, and gone back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
“Come, let us make our way to Bethlehem, and see for ourselves this happening which God has made known to us.”
And so they went with all haste, and found Mary and Joseph there, with the child lying in the manger. On seeing him, they discovered the truth of what had been told them about this child. All those who heard it were full of amazement at the story which the shepherds told them; but Mary treasured up all these sayings, and reflected on them in her heart. And the shepherds went home giving praise and glory to God, at seeing and hearing that all was as it had been told them.
When eight days had passed, and the boy must be circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name which the angel had given him before ever he was conceived in the womb. And when the time had come for purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him before the Lord there. It is written in God’s law, that whatever male offspring opens the womb is to be reckoned sacred to the Lord;and so they must offer in sacrifice for him, as God’s law commanded, a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons. At this time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem, an upright man of careful observance, who waited patiently for comfort to be brought to Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him; and by the Holy Spirit it had been revealed to him that he was not to meet death, until he had seen that Christ whom the Lord had anointed. He now came, led by the Spirit, into the temple; and when the child Jesus was brought in by his parents, to perform the custom which the law enjoined concerning him, Simeon too was able to take him in his arms. And he said, blessing God:
“Ruler of all, now you let your servant go in peace, according to your word; for my own eyes have seen that saving power of your which you hast prepared in the sight of all nations. This is the light which shall give revelation to the Gentiles, this is the glory of your people Israel.'”
The father and mother of the child were still wondering over all that was said of him, when Simeon blessed them, and said to his mother Mary,
“Behold, this child is destined to bring about the fall of many and the rise of many in Israel; to be a sign which men will refuse to acknowledge; and so the thoughts of many hearts shall be made manifest; as for your own soul, it shall have a sword to pierce it.”
There was besides a prophetess named Anna, daughter to one Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser (a woman greatly advanced in age, since she had lived with a husband for seven years after her maidenhood, and had now been eighty-four years a widow) who abode continually in the temple night and day, serving God with fasting and prayer. She too, at that very hour, came near to give God thanks, and spoke of the child to all that patiently waited for the deliverance of Israel.
Jesus was born at Bethlehem, in Judea, in the days of king Herod. And thereupon certain wise men came out of the east to Jerusalem, who asked,
“Where is he that has been born, the king of the Jews? We have seen his star out in the east, and we have come to worship him.”
King Herod was troubled when he heard it, and all Jerusalem with him; so that he assembled all the chief priests and learned men among the people, and inquired of them where it was that Christ would be born. And they told him, At Bethlehem in Judea; so it has been written by the prophet:
“And thou, Bethlehem, of the land of Judea, art far from the least among the princes of Judea, for out of you will arise a leader who is to be the shepherd of my people Israel.”
Then, summoning the wise men in secret, Herod questioned them closely upon the time of the star’s appearing. And he sent them on their way to Bethlehem, saying to them,
“Go and inquire carefully for the child, and when you have found him, bring me back word, so that I too may come and worship him.”
They obeyed the king, and went on their journey; and all at once the star which they had seen in the east was there going before them, till at last it stood still over the place where the child was. They, when they saw the star, were glad beyond measure; and so, going into the dwelling, they found the child there, with his mother Mary, and fell down to worship him; and, opening their store of treasures, they offered him gifts, of gold and frankincense and myrrh. Afterwards, because they had received a warning in a dream forbidding them to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by a different way.