Jesus is born
1At that time, Caesar Augustus was ruling the whole Roman world. He made a law and told his men, ‘Count everyone who lives in the Roman world.’ 2This was the first time that the Romans had made a list of everyone's names. Quirinius was the Roman ruler of Syria when it happened. #2:2 Caesar Augustus was the most powerful ruler of the whole Roman world. He had a large army and he ruled over many countries. He lived in the big city called Rome. This was the capital of the Roman world.
3Everyone went to his own home town for the Romans to count them. 4So Joseph went to his home town, Bethlehem. He was living in the town called Nazareth, in Galilee. Bethlehem was in Judea. King David had been born there, so Bethlehem was called the town of David. Joseph belonged to the family of David. That is why he went to Bethlehem.
5Joseph took Mary with him so that the Romans could count them. She went because she had promised to marry him. She was going to have a baby.
6While they were in Bethlehem, after some time, her baby was born. 7This was her first baby, and it was a boy. She put cloths round him. Then she put him in an animal's feeding box. She did this because the rooms for visitors were full of people. #2:7 The many people that came to Bethlehem filled the hotel. Mary and Joseph could not find an empty room. So, they had to rest where the animals lived.
Some shepherds leave their sheep to go and see Jesus
8That night some shepherds were living out in the fields near Bethlehem. They were keeping their sheep safe. 9Then an angel of the Lord appeared to them. A bright light from God shone all round them. That frightened them very much. 10The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Listen! I bring you good news. This news will make everyone very happy. 11Something happened today in the town of David. Someone special was born. He is the one who will save you. He is the Messiah. He is the Lord. 12I will tell you how you will know this baby. You will find him with cloths round him. He is lying in an animal's feeding box.’
13Just then many more angels appeared in a great crowd. They were praising God. They said:
14‘God is great! He lives in the highest place.
He will be good to the people on earth that make him happy.
They will have peace in their minds.’
15After that, the angels went away and returned to heaven. Then the shepherds said to each other, ‘We should leave the sheep and go to Bethlehem immediately! The Lord God has sent his angels to tell us what has happened. We want to see this baby.’
16So they went in a hurry to Bethlehem. When they got there, they found Mary and Joseph with the baby. The baby really was lying in a feeding box. 17After they had seen the baby, they told everybody about him. They told them what the angel had said to them about him. 18Many people heard what the shepherds said. They were very surprised. 19Mary remembered everything that the shepherds had said. She thought about it all for a long time. 20The shepherds then went back to their sheep. As they went they praised God. ‘How great you are!’ they said to him. ‘How good you are! Everything that the angel told us was true! We have heard good news. We have seen very special things!’
Mary and Joseph take Jesus to God's Great House
21When the baby was eight days old, it was time for the priest to circumcise him. His parents gave him the name Jesus. The angel had told Mary that they must give him that name. He told her that before she had the baby inside her.
22Long ago, God gave Moses rules for his people to obey. One rule told people how to become clean after a baby was born. The time came for Mary and Joseph to do this. So, they took the baby Jesus to God's Great House in Jerusalem to show him to the Lord.
23This is the rule which Lord gave to his people: ‘The first male baby born to a woman belongs to me. So you must bring him to me. 24When you do this, also bring two special birds for the priest to kill.’ So that is what Mary and Joseph did. #2:24 The Jews had to obey this rule 40 days after a boy was born. The mother had to go to God's Great House. If she was poor, she gave two special birds to God. The priests killed them and then they burned them on a special table. This stood outside the special room in God's Great House. God said that a priest must do this. He said that it would make the mother clean again. We can read about this in Leviticus 12:2-8.
25At this time, a man called Simeon was living in Jerusalem. He was a good man and he obeyed God. He had waited a long time to see the special person who would save Israel's people. The Holy Spirit was with him. 26The Holy Spirit had told him, ‘You will not die yet. You know that the Lord God has promised to send his Messiah. You will see him before you die.’ 27Now the day had come. The Holy Spirit told Simeon that he should go to God's Great House. Mary and Joseph were bringing the baby Jesus to do what God's rule said. 28Simeon went to them. He took Jesus and he held him in his arms. Then he thanked God. He said:
29‘Master, I am your servant.
You have done what you promised to me.
Now I can die with no trouble in my mind.
30I really have seen the person that you have sent to save your people.
31You have sent him to the world and people everywhere will know about him.
32He will bring light to people so that they can know you.
He will show you to those people who are not Jews.
He will also show that your people of Israel are very special.’
33That is what Simeon said about Jesus. His message surprised Mary and Joseph very much.
34Then Simeon asked God to be good and kind to Mary and to Joseph. After that, he spoke to Mary, the mother of Jesus. He said to her, ‘God has chosen this baby. Many people in Israel will become worse because of him. And many of them will become better again because of him. He will be like a sign that points to God. But many people will speak against him. 35This will show their secret thoughts about God. This will make you very sad, too. It will seem like a sharp knife is cutting into you. That is how sad you will be’.
36A very old lady called Anna was also there in God's Great House. She spoke messages that the Holy Spirit gave to her. She was the daughter of Phanuel, who belonged to the family of Asher. She had lived with her husband for seven years and then he had died. #2:36 Asher was one of the sons of Jacob. We can read about the 12 sons of Jacob in Genesis 26—50.
37After that, she had lived alone until she was 84 years old. Now she never left God's Great House. She stayed there day and night to pray to God. Often she went without food so that she could pray better.
38At that moment, Anna came to where Mary and Joseph were standing in God's Great House. When she saw the baby, she thanked God for him. Then she began to speak about him to other people there. Many people were waiting for God to make Jerusalem free. These were the people that she spoke to about the child, Jesus.
39When Mary and Joseph had finished everything that God's rules said, they returned home. That was in the town called Nazareth in Galilee. 40There the child grew up. God was good and kind to him and he became strong. He learned many things and he could understand them well.
Jesus visits God's Great House as a young boy
41Every year, Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. #2:41 Passover week is a very special time for the Jews. A long time ago, they were slaves in the country called Egypt. The ruler would not let them leave Egypt. But God saved them. And he brought them to the country called Israel. So every year, the Jews remember this. They also eat special food. Their ancestors ate this food when they left Egypt. We can read about the first Passover in Exodus, chapter 12.
42When Jesus was 12 years old, his parents took him with them to Jerusalem. They went as usual for the festival. 43When the week finished, Mary and Joseph left Jerusalem to return home. But Jesus stayed behind and his parents did not know this. 44They thought that he was with their group on the way home. They travelled for a whole day. Then they began to look for him among their family and friends.
45They could not find him, so they went back to Jerusalem. They looked for him there. 46After three days, they found him in God's Great House. He was sitting there among the teachers. He was listening to what they were saying. He was also asking them questions. 47Everyone who heard Jesus was very surprised. He understood so many things and he could answer difficult questions. 48When his parents saw him there, they were also very surprised. His mother said to him, ‘My son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have looked everywhere for you. We have had a lot of troubles in our mind.’
49Jesus answered them, ‘You should not really have had to look for me. I must be doing what my Father wants me to do. Really, you should have known that.’ 50But they did not really understand what he was saying to them.
51Then Jesus returned to Nazareth with them. He did what they wanted. His mother, Mary, was careful to remember all the special things that had happened. She thought about them a lot. 52Jesus grew up into a man. He became strong and he could understand more and more things. People thought he was a good man. God also thought well of him.