While the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus were astonishing, the Bible simply states the facts. The Gospel of Luke tells about Mary’s visit from the angel, while Matthew tells about Joseph’s angelic revelation.
Both of their worlds drastically changed when Mary became the expectant mother of Jesus, the Son of God. Joseph, having learned the truth in a dream, embraced it. He accepted the most important challenge that any man in the history would ever face.
Joseph rightly expected God miraculously to enable him to care for Mary and the child growing in her womb. When Mary’s time to deliver drew near, an edict demanded a journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for taxation. Did Joseph wonder how Mary could travel safely at such a time? Did he know that the child was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem?
Joseph dutifully and courageously took Mary with him to Bethlehem, where she gave birth to baby Jesus in a stable and laid him in a manger. Did Joseph wonder if he’d made some awful mistake that caused the child to be born in a barn? If he did, when the shepherds showed up to see the newborn Savior, his doubts probably vanished. The shepherds not only worshipped God by their visit, they unknowingly may have comforted weary Mary and Joseph, assuring them that what seemed like a terrible travesty was exactly right.
Matthew 1:18-25 18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Luke 2:1-16 1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15And 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. 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.