Stories from the Life of Christ Told to the Children - Janet Kelman

The Birth of Christ

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron. And her name was Elisabeth. They were both righteous before God. And they had no child.

And it came to pass that Zacharias went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

But the angel said unto him, "Fear not, Zacharias, for thy prayer is heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit; and many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before the Lord to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

And Zacharias said, "Whereby shall I know this, for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years?"

And the angel answering said unto him, "I am Gabriel that stand in the presence of God, and am sent to show thee these glad tidings. And behold, thou shalt be dumb and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall come to pass, because thou believest not my words which shall be fulfilled in their season."

And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out he could not speak unto them; and they knew that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned unto them, and was speechless.

And the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

And the angel came to her and said, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women." And when she saw him she was troubled at his saying.

And the angel said unto her, "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God. And behold, thou shalt bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end."

Then said Mary unto the angel, "How shall this be?"

And the angel answered and said unto her, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall over-shadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

And Mary said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."

And the angel departed from her.

Now Elisabeth brought forth a son, and her neighbours and cousins rejoiced with her. And it came to pass on the eighth day that they called him Zacharias after the name of his father.

And his mother answered and said, "Not so, but he shall be called 'John.'"

And they said unto her, "There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name." And they made signs to his father how he would have him called.

And he wrote saying, "His name is John." And they marvelled all. And the mouth of Zacharias was opened, and he spake and praised God and said, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers that he would grant unto us, that we might serve him without fear all the days of our life. And thou child shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways."

And the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.

Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise. There went out a command from Caesar that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one to his own city. And Joseph went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, unto the city of David which is called Bethlehem, to be taxed with Mary his wife. And so it was that while they were there, Mary brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

And it came to pass as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us."

And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things which they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

And the child's name was called Jesus, and they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. And the same man was just and devout; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it was shown unto him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came into the temple, and the parents brought in the child Jesus. Then took he him up in his arms and blessed God, and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation."

And Joseph and his mother wondered at those things which were spoken of him.

Now behold there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him."

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he asked of them where Christ should be born.

And they said unto him, "In Bethlehem."

Then Herod, when he had called the wise men, asked them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, "Go and search for the young child, and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also."

When they had heard the king they departed, and lo, the star which they saw in the East went before them till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and fell down and worshipped him. And when they had opened their treasures they gave unto him gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they went into their own country another way.

When they were departed, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him."

Then Joseph arose, and took the young child and his mother by night and went into Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod.

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was wroth, and sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had heard from the wise men. Then was there a voice heard, of weeping and great mourning. Women weeping for their children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

But when Herod was dead, Joseph arose and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel, and dwelt in Nazareth.

And the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him.