1 Years of Preparation
1.1 The Beginning
This is the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.1 Many people have tried to tell the story of what God has done among us. They wrote what we had been told by the ones who were there in the beginning and saw what happened. So I made a careful study of everything and then decided to write and tell you exactly what took place. I have done
this to let you know the truth about what you have heard.2
In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone. The light keeps shining in the dark, and darkness has never put it out. God sent a man named John, who came to tell about the light and to lead all people to have faith. John wasn’t that light.
He came only to tell about the light.
The true light that shines on everyone was coming into the world. The Word was in the world, but no one knew him, though God had made the world with his Word. He came into his own world, but his own nation did not welcome him. Yet some people accepted him and put their faith in him. So he gave them the right to be the children of God. They were not God’s children by nature or because of any human desires. God himself was the one who made them his children.
The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.
John spoke about him and shouted, “This is the one I told you would come! He is greater than I am, because he was alive before I was born.”
Because of all that the Son is, we have been given one blessing after another. The Law was given by Moses, but Jesus Christ brought us undeserved kindness and truth. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is truly God and is closest to the Father, has shown us what God is like.3
1.2 The Birth of Jesus Foretold
God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David. The angel greeted Mary and said, “You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was confused by the angel’s words and wondered what they meant. Then the angel told Mary, “Don’t be afraid! God is pleased with you, and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
Mary asked the angel, “How can this happen? I am not married!”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God’s power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God.
Your relative Elizabeth is also going to have a son, even though she is old. No one thought she could ever have a baby, but in three months she will have a son. Nothing is impossible for God!”
Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant! Let it happen as you have said.” And the angel left her.
1.3 Mary Visits Elizabeth
A short time later Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea. She went into Zechariah’s home, where she greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her baby moved within her.
The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth. Then in a loud voice she said to Mary:
“God has blessed you more than any other woman! He has also blessed the child you will have. Why should the mother of my Lord come to me? As soon as I heard your greeting, my baby became happy and moved within me. The Lord has blessed you because you believed that he will keep his promise.”
1.4 Mary’s Song
With all my heart I praise the Lord, and I am glad because of God my Savior. God cares for me, his humble servant. From now on, all people will say God has blessed me. God All-Powerful has done great things for me, and his name is holy. God always shows mercy to everyone who worships him. The Lord has used his powerful arm to scatter those who are proud. God drags strong rulers from their thrones and puts humble people in places of power. God gives the hungry good things to eat, and sends the rich away with nothing. God helps his servant Israel and is always merciful to his people. The Lord made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his family forever!
Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months.
Then she went back home.
1.5 John the Baptizer
When Elizabeth’s son was born, her neighbors and relatives heard how kind the Lord had been to her, and they too were glad.
As John grew up, God’s Spirit gave him great power. John lived in the desert until the time he was sent to the people of Israel.4
1.6 The Birth of Jesus
This is how Jesus Christ was born. A young woman named Mary was engaged to Joseph from King David’s family. But before they were married, she learned that she was going to have a baby by God’s Holy Spirit. Joseph was a good man and did not want to embarrass Mary in front of everyone. So he decided to quietly call off the wedding.
While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
So the Lord’s promise came true, just as the prophet had said, “A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.”
After Joseph woke up, he and Mary were soon married, just as the Lord’s angel had told him to do. But they did not sleep together before her baby was born.
About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books. These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David’s hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David’s family.
Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, and while they were there, she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.