A young woman receives some remarkable news - she is to be the mother of Israel's expected messiah
In a village in Israel a young woman has to tell her fiancé that she is expecting a child. But this is no ordinary child because she claims to have been visited by an angel who told her something quite remarkable.
The angel told her that the baby growing inside her was God's promised messiah. Her name was Mary and her fiancé was called Joseph. It is believed that Mary was probably about 16 years old when the angel visited her.
At first Joseph did not believe Mary but an angel appeared in one of Joseph's dreams and assured him everything was alright.
Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was also expecting a baby. Her husband had been struck dumb when, he claimed, an angel told him that he and his wife would have a baby and they were to call him John. He was being punished for his disbelief.
When Elizabeth met Mary the baby in Elizabeth's womb turned excitedly. They both knew that something remarkable was taking place.
Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem where the child is born
Mary and her new husband were forced to travel to a small town called Bethlehem, for taxation registration. Joseph could trace his ancestry back to King David. However, he was not a rich man, he was a carpenter. The only shelter they could find was a humble room where the animals lived.
Mary has her child with, it seems, only her inexperienced husband to help her. She then has to clothe her baby - the Bible describes Mary wrapping Jesus in swaddling cloths - and then she personally lays him in the manger.
"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:6-7
Did you know?
It's approximately 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem and would probably have taken the expectant couple about a week to make the journey.
To find out more about Bethlehem you can visit it's official website
They call him Jesus
Joseph had been given a name for his son by the angel who visited him. The name of the child was Jesus, an unremarkable very common name at the time. In truth Jesus is a transliteration of the Hebrew name Joshua. Joshua means "Jehovah is Salvation", literally "God saves".
Shepherds are the first to hear the news
The only sign of anything of importance is the angel who appears to the shepherds telling of a new saviour born nearby, this single angle is followed by a large number of angels who praise God. Being a shepherd was considered one of the lowliest jobs at the time.
Some wise men also visit after following a star
Some time after - we do not know how long - some wise men visit the boy Jesus and they give gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The present King is upset by the news of the new King's birth
The birth of Jesus spooks the then King, Herod the Great, who fearing someone might want his crown has every child in Bethlehem killed.
Did you know?
Herod the Great had ordered the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple as well as undertaking many major building projects.
Herod's death means that Jesus' family can now return to Israel
Joseph takes his young son to Egypt where they will be safe. When King Herod dies the family return to Nazareth where they can blend into the general populace.
A special birth but a person all the same
One thing that is often missed about Jesus is that he is a real life person. He felt the things that we do. He enjoyed eating and drinking as much as we do. He felt tiredness and elation like we do. He had friends and felt the loss that death can bring. He is not some strange spiritual figure but a real person who you could touch and laugh with. People often get so caught up in thinking about Jesus that they start to miss the point that he was a real person.