Jesus’ Birth—Where and When?
THE emperor of the Roman Empire, Caesar Augustus, has decreed that everyone must return to the city of his birth to be registered. So Joseph travels to his birthplace, the city of Bethlehem.
A lot of people are in Bethlehem to register, and the only place that Joseph and Mary can find to stay is in a stable. Here, where donkeys and other animals are kept, Jesus is born. Mary wraps him in strips of cloth and lays him in a manger, the place that holds the food for the animals.
Surely it was at God’s direction that Caesar Augustus made his registration law. This made it possible for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, the city the Scriptures had long before foretold would be the birthplace of the promised ruler.
What an important night this is! Out in the fields a bright light gleams around a group of shepherds. It is Jehovah’s glory! And Jehovah’s angel tells them: “Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city. And this is a sign for you: you will find an infant bound in cloth bands and lying in a manger.” Suddenly many more angels appear and sing: “Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of goodwill.”
When the angels leave, the shepherds say to one another: “Let us by all means go clear to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which Jehovah has made known to us.” They go in a hurry and find Jesus just where the angel said they would. When the shepherds relate what the angel told them, all who hear about it marvel. Mary safeguards all these sayings and cherishes them in her heart.
Many people today believe that Jesus was born on December 25. But December is a rainy, cold season in Bethlehem. Shepherds would not be out in the fields overnight with their flocks at that time of the year. Also, the Roman Caesar would not likely have required a people who were already inclined to revolt against him to make that trip in the dead of winter to register. Evidently Jesus was born sometime in the early autumn of the year. Luke 2:1-20; Micah 5:2.
▪ Why do Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem?
▪ What marvelous thing happens the night Jesus is born?
▪ How do we know that Jesus was not born on December 25?