World English Institute
In the beginning, God created the earth and sky and everything in the universe. When we read the creation story and look at the things that God has made, we see evidence that God is eternal, powerful, intelligent, and personal. He is the source of life and the giver of every good and perfect gift.
Human beings were created in God's own likeness. A human being is more than an animal. A human being is able to think ahead, reason, and look within. A human being has a conscience and can know the difference between right and wrong. Like God, a human being wants to love and be loved. Among God's creatures, only the human being is able to worship God and be friends with him.
The relationship between God and humanity was broken by sin. Evil entered the world when Eve listened to Satan's lies and disobeyed God's command. But God set in motion a plan that would defeat Satan and set humanity free from sin. A descendant of the woman would crush Satan's head.
Once sin entered the world, it spread rapidly. The world became corrupt, and people thought about evil things all the time. But Noah and his family found favor with God. Noah was a good man. As a judgment against sin, God sent a great flood upon the earth. Only Noah, his family, and the animals in their boat, were saved.
Hundreds of years later, God called Abram out of Ur and promised to give him a son. God promised that all families of the earth would be blessed through a descendant of Abram.
God changed Abram's name to Abraham. God blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son in their old age. Their son's name was "Isaac." God made a promise to Isaac like the one he had made to Abraham. All nations would be blessed through a descendant of Isaac. Isaac grew up and married Rebekah. They had twin boys: Jacob and Esau. God made a promise to Jacob like the one he had made to Abraham and Isaac. All nations would be blessed through a descendant of Jacob. God changed Jacob's name to "Israel." Prior to his death, Israel looked into the future and told his family that a true King was coming. The true King would be a descendant of his son, Judah.
Israel moved his family to Egypt because of famine. There, his sons became the heads of large families, and these families became a nation. In order to control the Israelites, the Egyptians mistreated them and made them their slaves. The Israelites cried out to God.
God heard the cries of the Israelites and shared their pain. God appeared to Moses in a burning bush at Mount Sinai and sent him to Egypt to deliver the Israelites out of slavery. After ten great tragedies in Egypt, Moses led the Israelites across the Red Sea to freedom. This march to freedom is called "the Exodus."
At Mount Sinai, God made an agreement with Moses and the Israelite nation. He agreed to be their God, and they agreed to be his people. God and his people were bound together by love and mutual commitment. God promised to send a prophet like Moses who would speak the very words of God.
As time went by, the people of Israel forgot God and broke their agreement with him. God raised up prophets to speak out against evil and to call the people back to him. By the power of the Holy Spirit, these prophets looked hundreds of years into the future. There they saw Someone who would defeat Satan, set the people free from sin, and rule over the kingdom of God forever.
This King would be born of a virgin, be announced by a prophet in the desert, and be anointed by God's Spirit. He would have the heart of a shepherd, and he would be called "the Son of God." The King would also be God's suffering Servant. He would suffer for the wrong things we did, and be crushed for our guilt. Yet, he would suffer silently, like a lamb being shorn. He would die with evil men and be buried with the rich, even though he had done nothing wrong. He would give himself to die, but he would live again. He would be rejected by men, nailed to a tree, mocked by his enemies, killed in shame, and raised from death before his body could decay. Finally, he would return to heaven in glory and speak to God for people who have sinned.
With this background in mind, we are now ready to begin our study of the New Testament. In our study, we will watch with amazement as the promises of God are fulfilled one by one.
THE KING IS BORN
God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin girl who lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee. The girl's name was Mary. Mary was from the family of David, and she was engaged to marry a man named Joseph. The angel said to Mary, "Greetings! The Lord is with you. He wants to bless you."
But Mary did not understand what the angel said. Mary wondered, "What does this mean?"
The angel said to her, "Don't be afraid, Mary, because God is very pleased with you. Listen! You will become pregnant. You will give birth to a baby boy. And you will name him Jesus. He will be great. People will call him the Son of the Most High. The Lord will give him the authority of David, his ancestor. Jesus will rule over the people of Jacob forever. Jesus' kingdom will never end."
Mary said to the angel, "How will this happen? I am not married."
The angel said to Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come to you and the power of the Most High God will cover you. The baby will be holy. He will be called the Son of God."
Mary said, "I am the servant girl of the Lord God. Let this thing you have said happen to me!" Then the angel went away.
All this happened to make clear the full meaning of the things the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah: "A virgin will be pregnant and will give birth to a son. He will be called `Immanuel,'" meaning "God with us."
AN ANGEL APPEARS TO JOSEPH
Mary was engaged to marry Joseph. But before they married, Mary learned that she was pregnant. She was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a good man and he did not want to bring shame to Mary before the people. He planned to separate himself from her secretly.
But after Joseph thought about this, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, "Joseph, son of David, don't be afraid to accept Mary as your wife. The baby that is in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son. You will name the son `Jesus' [meaning `salvation']. Give him that name because he will save his people from their sins."
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel told him. Joseph married Mary, but he had no sexual union with her until she gave birth to the son. And Joseph named the son "Jesus."
JESUS IS BORN IN BETHLEHEM
Augustus Caesar, the Emperor of Rome, sent out an order to all the countries under Roman rule. The order said that all the people must travel back to their hometowns to be counted.
So Joseph left Nazareth, and went to his hometown of Bethlehem in Judea. This town was known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David.
While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby. She gave birth to her first son Jesus. There were no rooms left in the hotel, so Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable. Mary wrapped the baby with cloths and laid the baby in a box where cattle were fed.
AN ANGEL TELLS SOME SHEPHERDS ABOUT JESUS' BIRTH
That night, some shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem watching their sheep. Suddenly, an angel of God stood before them, and the glory of the Lord was shining around them. The shepherds became very afraid. The angel said to them, "Don't be afraid. I am telling you some good news that will make all the people very happy. Today your Savior was born in David's town. He is Christ, the Lord. This is how you will know him. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a feeding box."
Then a very large group of angels from heaven joined the first angel. All the angels were praising God, saying: "Give glory to God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace to the people that please God."
THE SHEPHERDS VISIT JESUS
The angels left the shepherds and went back to heaven. The shepherds said to each other, "We will go to Bethlehem and see this thing the Lord God told us about."
So the shepherds went quickly and found Mary and Joseph. The baby was lying in the feeding box. The shepherds saw the baby. Then they told what the angels said about this child. Everyone was surprised when they heard what the shepherds told them. Then the shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking him for everything they had seen and heard.
When the baby was eight days old, he was circumcised, and he was named Jesus.
WISE MEN COME TO JERUSALEM
Jesus was born during the time when Herod was king. After Jesus was born, some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the new baby that is the king of the Jews? We saw the star that shows he was born and we came to worship him."
King Herod heard about this new king of the Jews. Herod was troubled about this, and all the people in Jerusalem were worried too. Herod called a meeting of all the leading priests and teachers of the law. Herod asked them where the Christ would be born. They answered, "In the town of Bethlehem of Judea. The prophet Micah wrote about this in the Scriptures."
Herod had a secret meeting with the wise men from the east. Herod learned from the wise men the exact time they first saw the star. Then Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem. He said to them, "Go and look carefully to find the new baby. When you find him, come tell me. Then I will go worship him too."
THE WISE MEN VISIT JESUS
The wise men heard King Herod and then left. They saw the same star they had seen in the east, and they followed it. The star went before them until it stopped above the place where the baby was staying. The wise men were filled with joy.
The wise men came to the house where the baby was, and they saw the baby with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped the baby. Then they opened the gifts they had brought, and they gave the baby treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But God warned the wise men in a dream not to go back to Herod. So they went home to their own country by a different way.
JESUS' PARENTS TAKE HIM TO EGYPT
After the wise men left, an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream. The angel said, "Get up! Take the baby and his mother and escape to Egypt. Herod will start looking for the baby. Herod wants to kill him. Stay in Egypt until I tell you it is safe."
So Joseph got up and left for Egypt with the baby and the baby's mother. They left during the night. Joseph and his family stayed in Egypt until after Herod died.
HEROD KILLS THE BABY BOYS IN BETHLEHEM
When Herod saw that the wise men had tricked him, he was very, very angry. Herod gave an order to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and in the area around Bethlehem. Herod ordered his men to kill all the boys that were two years old and younger.
JOSEPH AND MARY RETURN TO NAZARETH
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream. The angel said, "Get up! Take the baby and his mother and go to Israel. The people that were trying to kill the baby are now dead."
So Joseph took the baby and the baby's mother and went back to Nazareth of Galilee. It was there that Jesus grew up.
POINTS TO REMEMBER ABOUT THIS LESSON
1. Mary's pregnancy was supernatural. Approximately 2,000 years before Jesus was born, Sarah gave Abraham a son in his old age. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born, and Sarah was ninety. Naturally, it was impossible for Sarah to have a baby at that age. Yet, all things are possible with God. God did something for Abraham and Sarah that nature could not do.
Later, Isaac's wife Rebekah was not able to have children. For nineteen years, Rebekah waited. Finally, Isaac prayed to God for his wife, and God gave them twin boys, Jacob and Esau. God did for Isaac and Rebekah what nature had not been able to do.
Later, Jacob's wife Rachel could not have children. Year after year she waited and prayed. Finally, God gave her a son. God did something for Jacob and Rachel that nature had not done.
When we come to the New Testament and read about the super-natural pregnancy of Mary, we are hardly surprised. Nothing is too hard for the All-Powerful God.
2. Jesus was the One seen by Old Testament prophets. Jesus was the descendant of Eve who would crush Satan's head and save the people from sin. Jesus was the descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who would bless all nations. Jesus was the true King who would come from the tribe of Judah, receive the authority of his ancestor David, and rule over his kingdom forever. Jesus was the child born of a virgin who would be called "Immanuel," meaning "God with us." When Jesus was born, God became flesh and lived among us. He was the promised King.
3. Evil men tried to destroy Jesus. Joseph and Mary must have been very happy when Jesus was born. The angels in heaven were happy. The shepherds in Bethlehem were happy. The wise men from the east were happy. But King Herod was unhappy. Herod was afraid that he would lose his throne. He was worried that Jesus would take his place as king. So he killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem in an effort to kill Jesus.
Early in life, Jesus was attacked by the forces of evil. Evil men tried to destroy him. But God is stronger than Satan, and God protected his Son from harm.
God can use you and me to accomplish great things today if we will give ourselves to him completely.
Scripture References: Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20; Matthew 1:18-23; 2:1-23; John 1:1-3, 14; 5:39.
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