Christmas time is a chance for Christians to celebrate, the birth of Jesus. They recognise it as the time when god came to earth, the incarnation, Jesus is referred to as god incarnate. The stories of Jesus’ birth are found in the New Testament, in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. These gospels narrate the story from different perspectives, Matthew from Joseph’s and Luke from that of Mary’s.They have differences and reflect the conflicting factors which would have been difficult for the individual’s concerned, whilst Matthew describes the plight Joseph faces when his virgin fiance iscovers she is with child, Luke concentrates on the difficulties young Mary had proving her fidelity and innocence. They differ in other aspects too, the accounts of people present as His birth and what than angel Gabriel said to name the child. These however are minor discrepancies and do not deduct in any way from the true meaning of the story.
The annunciation is a key point in the story; it is one of the first indications of how special, how unique this child and the circumstances surrounding His truly are.We can see that there is great priority surrounding the well being of this child, the young mother is being explained the circumstances in which she finds herself by God’s angel(as are the holy family warned several more times throughout this story). Luke explains the shock Mary feels when informed of her pregnancy despite her being a virgin. However Mary is faithful enough that she takes it in her stride and replies that God’s will be done.
Immanuel is the name she is told to give to her child, this means God is with us.In this part of the story the bible clearly states that Mary is a virgin mother, many people today believe that the bible states this but that at the time it only meant an unmarried woman and did not have the literal meaning as in one individual who has not had sexual relations. There are many interpretations of this term today but when the bible stated that she was a virgin, it was men thin the strictly literal term and is referred to as the Immaculate Conception, a baby conceived without intercourse but by holy means.Matthew states that when Joseph discovered Mary’s pregnancy he wanted to break off the engagement privately, so as not to case shame to Mary and her family. However before Joseph had done this, the angel Gabriel had appeared to him and explained to him the special circumstances behind Mary’s unborn child. Although not purposely, this gospel re affirms Mary’s special relationship with God, throughout the story Gabriel appears to Joseph but only in dreams, however he appeared directly to Mary.
Joseph was also told to name the child, he was given the name Jesus, this means saviour or messiah. Although both parents are given different names they decide to name him Jesus. This difference is not considered very important as both names are similar and show the authenticity of Jesus’ parenthood.
Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem to take part in the census; this is significant because it shows Joseph and thus Jesus’ ancestral link with King David. Upon arrival in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph are unable to find an inn with vacancies.This is highly symbolic, showing us of Jesus’ humble beginnings. It is also possibly metaphorical of those who will never make room for the saviour in their hearts. According to the bible Jesus was born on 25th December, we know this to be untrue, however Christians still celebrate on this date. This is because they believe that Jesus’ birth is far too significant an event to not recognise over such a small technicality. According to both gospels the holy infant was born in a stable and swaddled in cloth then placed in a manger to sleep.This point is again re-emphasising the point that Jesus’ humility is a key factor, at a time when the meek and humble were badly downtrodden Jesus vulnerability coupled with his great power, showed a true saviour for the people.
There are two accounts of the visitors to the holy family, the first can be found in Luke. Luke tells of the angels appearing to the shepherd tending to their sheep, again a strong metaphor for those who are downtrodden and considered not good enough, happiness is theirs.The angels told the shepherd’s of the baby’s location, the shepherds went to see and recognised Him as a king; they were overjoyed and gave thanks to God. According to Matthew’s gospel, baby Jesus is visited by magi. These were learned non Jewish men who had been following a star which had led them to Him. This story is significant because, a) these learned men are so influenced by a baby and b) they were not Jewish, and Jesus’ presence has affected them this profoundly this shows not only His presence even as a small child but the fact that He is a king for everyone. The star’s symbolism in the story is that Jesus is the light of the world.Although the magi are not named nor are w told the number of them, we are told of the gift they bring for Jesus.
Gold symbolises Jesus’ royalty and significance. Frankincense represents worship but in the holy sense, that Jesus will be spiritual leader. Myrrh is representative of the suffering and death Jesus inevitably ahs to face in later life. Herod had asked the magi to tell him of the baby’s birthplace ‘so that he too could worship’.
Herod had heard the rumour of a king and did not realise what sense it was meant in, he automatically thought that Jesus was here to overthrow him.He wanted the magi to tell him of the child’s location in order for him to kill it. They did not do this, and instead returned home via a different route.
Jesus was circumcised at 8 days old, this marked the covenant between Abraham and god and symbolised Jesus’ Judaism. Also it was custom to offer your first child to god and make a small sacrifice. Joseph and Mary followed this practice and presented Jesus at the temple. Two God fearing prophets Anna and Simeon comment on how important Jesus’ existence will be to mankind.This is highly significant; the prophets notice how extraordinary and special Jesus is even at this young age. Herod soon discovered that he had been lied to by the magi and that they were not about to return and give up Jesus. This angered him greatly and he decided to kill all the boy of ages two and under to ensure he had secured Jesus’ death.
This slaughter has become know as the massacre of the innocents, and fulfils a prophesy in the bible. This is significant to Christians as one of the reasons they believe he is a messiah is because his birth fulfils many prophesies.Joseph is again visited in a dream, this time he is warned of the threat to Jesus’ life, the family go into exile in Egypt. Conclusion: Therefore to conclude, we can see the great significance of Jesus’ birth even from a neutral position, more so for a Christian. The event surrounding His birth are dictated via both gospels form different viewpoints, this is necessary o communicate the story, as the events are so different but equally relevant. Jesus’ birth has great symbolism and shows the way he starts to continue onto greatness.