A modern English blending of the New Testament

Everything Jesus said and did, nothing more, nothing less.

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Jesus - A blending of the New Testament - Ch. 2 - Birth of Jesus
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The birth of Jesus  -  the dedication in Jerusalem  -  the astrologers follow the star to Jesus  -  the escape to Egypt  -  the return to Palestine  -  Jesus grows up in Nazareth.


Toward the end of Mary's pregnancy the Emperor Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken of the Roman Empire and ordered every one to return to his home town to be registered. Since Joseph was a descendant of David, he went with Mary to Bethlehem - "King David's town."

While they were there, she went into labor and her son was born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and, because they hadn't been able to get a room at the inn, made a bed for him in a manger.

In the fields outside the town were some shepherds tending their sheep. Suddenly, an angel appeared in their midst, and the fields and sky shone radiantly with God's presence. The shepherds were terrified.

"Do not be alarmed," the angel said, "I have come to announced to the world the most joyful of all good news. The Messiah was come! your savior was born in Bethlehem today. You will know him because he is wrapped in swaddling cloths and his bed is in a manger."

Then suddenly, filling the sky, there was an army of angels, their voices raised in song:

"Glory to God in the highest heaven!
And on earth, peace to those who please him."

Then, as quickly as they has appeared, the angels were gone. "Come on," said one of the shepherds. "Let's go into town. Let's see for ourselves what's happened."

They ran into the town and found Mary and Joseph and, as they had been told, the baby in a manger. Trembling with excitement, the shepherds poured out the story of what the angel had said to them. The people in the house listened, astonished. As for Mary, she stored it all in her mind and puzzled over it, but she said nothing. Later, the shepherds went back to the fields, their hearts filled with gratitude that what the angel told them had been confirmed.

When the baby was circumcized on the eight day, he was named Jesus, the name given to him by the angel before he was conceived.

When the time came for the Mosaic ceremony of the mother's purification and the dedication of the child to God, his parents took Jesus to Jerusalem. It was a requirement of the Law that every first-born male be dedicated to God, and that to mark the occasion two turtle doves or two young pigeons be sacrificed.

When they arrived at the temple they were met by a man named Simeon. He was a good man, deeply religious and filled with the spirit of God, who lived in hope of the salvation of Israel. He lived each day in the expectation that on that day the Messiah would come: God had promised him that he would see the Messiah before he died. On this particular day, prompted by God, he went into the temple enclosure and saw Joseph and Mary with the baby. He went to them, took the baby in his arms and prayed:

"Now, oh God, I am content to die.
To leave this world in peace.
You have kept your covenant.
I have been witness to the salvation
You have prepared for all mankind:
A light to reveal the unknown to the Gentiles,
A light to bring glory to your people, Israel."

Joseph and Mary listened, thrilled at his words. Simeon gave them his blessing and spoke to Mary. "Your child, "he said," will be the cause of the rising and the falling of many in Israel. He will create controversy and will be opposed because he will reveal men's true motives. And you, Mary, your heart is going to be wounded, as though pierced by a sword."

Also in the temple at the time was a prophetess by the name of Anna, the daughter of a man named Phanuel, a descendant of Asher. She was very old and had been a widow for eighty-four years, her husband having died after only seven years of marriage. The temple had become her home and she never left it, for she worshiped at all hours of the day and night, and sometimes fasted. She, too, came up to Joseph and Mary and said prayers of thanksgiving for the baby's birth. Afterwards, she went to all those who waited for the Messiah's coming and told them she had seen Jesus.

Some time later, a group of astrologers from an eastern country arrived in Jerusalem.

"Where may we find the infant King of Israel?" they asked. "We saw his star and have come to pay him homage."

The news of their arrival in the city and reason for their visit reached Herod and caused him no small concern. Indeed, it created a general air of apprehension in the city. Herod had the chief priests and scribes assembled and put questions to them.

"When the Messiah comes," he asked, "where is he to be born?"

"In Bethlehem," they told him, and quoted the prophecy:

And you, Bethlehem in Judea's land,
You are by no means the least of cities,
A ruler shall come from you
To govern my people, Israel.

Herod dismisses them and summoned the visiting astrologers to a private meeting. He pressed them with questions and learned at what time they had first seen the star.

"Now," he said, "I have a mission for you. I want you to go to Bethlehem and to conduct a careful search for the child. When you've found him, send word to me and I'll come and join you in your worship."

They left Jerusalem and followed the star to Bethlehem until - as they watched with mounting excitement - it appeared to come to rest over the house where Jesus was. They went inside, and when they saw Mary with the baby, they dropped to their knees and worshiped him. From their travel bags, they took gifts made of gold and the fragrances of frankincense and myrrh.

When they left Bethlehem for they journey home they deliberately by-passed Jerusalem, having been warned in a dream to avoid Herod.

Shortly after they had gone, Joseph had a dream in which he was warned about Herod. An angel appeared and told him that Herod was about to institute a search to find and kill the child. He was therefore to take Mary and the baby and go to Egypt.

Joseph got out of bed and woke Mary. They packed some of their belongings and left they city under cover of darkness.

Once more a prophecy had been fulfilled. Hosea had written: I have summoned my son from Egypt.

When he received no report from the astrologers, Herod realized he had been tricked. In his rage he ordered that every boy under the age of two in the Bethlehem area be killed. (He set the age at two on the basis of what he had learned from the astrologers.)

And so the prediction of the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

The sound of a voice in Ramah.
An anguished wail of mourning.
'Tis Rachel weeping for her children,
Bereft beyond all consolation,
For her children, her children lie dead.

Time passed and Herod died. In Egypt, Joseph had a dream in which an angel came to him from God.

"It is time to go home," the angel said. "Take Mary and the child and return to Israel. Those who tried to murder him are dead."

As they neared the border, Joseph learned that Herod had been succeeded by his son, Archelaus. For this reason he skirted Judea, settling in a town in Galilee called Nazareth; for the prophets had said of the Messiah, He shall be called a Nazarene.

It was in Nazareth that Jesus spent his boyhood. He was a deeply spiritual child, wise beyond his years and with God's blessings clearly on his life.

It was the custom of Jesus' parents to go to Jerusalem each year for the Passover, and when the boy reached the age of twelve they took him along. When the festival was over, they started back to Nazareth assuming that he was with relatives or friends in the caravan. It was not until nightfall that, having looked for him for up and down the caravan, they realized he was lost. They hurried back to Jerusalem, searching for him everywhere along the road and in the city. Three days later they found him sitting among the teachers of the law in the temple, listening to them, asking questions, astonishing them all with his grasp of the law and with the answers he gave. Even his parents were surprised at his composure.

"Why have you treated your father and me like this?" Mary said. "We've looked everywhere for you. Don't you realize that we were sick of worry?"

"But why did you search for me?" he asked. "Surely you know it's my duty to be in my father's house?"

They didn't understand.

After their return home, he was an obedient son. Mary stored all these early experiences in her memory and would often ponder them. As for Jesus, he grew older, taller and wiser, popular among his fellows and loved by God.

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