Event: Birth of Jesus (Celebrated at Christmas. Also called the Nativity)
Location: Bethlehem
When: Jesus as a Child
Scriptural References: Matthew 2:1–12, Luke 1:26–35Luke 2:1–20


Angel Gabriel Appears to Mary

The Annunciation: The Angel Gabriel Appears to Mary by John Scott

Long before Jesus’ birth, prophets had foretold that the Only Begotten Son of the Father would be born to a virgin named Mary (see Isaiah 7:14; Mosiah 3:8; Alma 7:10). Mary was chosen and foreordained for this important mission before she came to earth. As the Savior’s mother, Mary would provide the Son of God with a body of flesh and blood, and she and her husband, Joseph, would raise Him, teach Him, and help Him prepare for His great mission.

Mary, a righteous young woman who lived in Galilee in the city of Nazareth. Heavenly Father appointed the angel Gabriel to appear to Mary with the message of what He was asking her to do (see Luke 1:26). “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:28).

Route from Nazareth to Bethlehem

Usual Jewish Route from Nazareth to Bethlehem

Gabriel’s greeting left Mary troubled and uncertain as to the meaning of the heavenly visitation. Gabriel, understanding her feelings, told Mary to “fear not” and continued to explain the miraculous event that would take place. He told Mary that she had been chosen by Heavenly Father to be the mother of Jesus, who would be the only earthly son of Heavenly Father. “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.” (See Luke 1:29-33.)

Mary still had questions and uncertainty about her mission. “How shall this be?” she asked when she heard that she would give birth to the “Son of the Highest.” (See Luke 1:3134.) Gabriel told her that she would be overshadowed by the power of God, and the child would be the Son of Heavenly Father, “for with God nothing shall be impossible” (see Luke 1:35, Luke 1:37). Her questions answered, Mary recognized the great blessing the Lord was giving her and replied in faithfulness and obedience, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).

 

Travel to Bethlehem to be Taxed. No Room in the Inn.

Joseph and Mary Travel To Bethlehem

Joseph and Mary Travel To The Census by William Hole

Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor, sent out a decree (law) that everyone in his empire had to be taxed. Each man was to pay taxes in the city of his ancestors, so Joseph and Mary had to travel from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem. It was a difficult trip for Mary because her baby was about to be born. (See Luke 2:15.)

When Mary and Joseph reached Bethlehem, the city was crowded with people who had come to pay taxes. There was no room for Joseph and Mary in the inns, but they were finally allowed to stay in a manger. “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

 

Angels Appear to Shepherds

On the night Jesus was born, there were shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem watching over their flocks. An angel of the Lord appeared and the shepherds were frightened, but the angel said:

Announcement of Christ's Birth to the Shepherds

The Announcement of Christ’s Birth to the Shepherds by Del Parson

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And … ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12). Suddenly there appeared a multitude of angels praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2: 13-14).

Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus Lying in a Manger

When the angels had gone, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go … unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us” (Luke 2:15). Hurrying to Bethlehem, the shepherds found Mary and Joseph, and the baby Jesus lying in a manger (see Luke 2:16).

Later, as the shepherds returned to their flocks, telling the people abroad what the angel had said about Jesus, they glorified and praised God for all they had heard and seen (see Luke 2:17-18).

Baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

The Nativity by Ted Henninger

King Herod and the Wise Men

A certain number of wise men (how many is not recorded), guided by a new star, came to Bethlehem to worship Jesus sometime after his birth. Who these men were we are not told, but it is certain they were not ordinary men. That they were privileged to search out the Son of God and give him gifts, and that they were spiritually sensitive and knowledgeable, suggests that they may have been prophets of God on a divine errand. (Matt. 2: 1-12)

When the wise men arrived in Judea, they first came to King Herod saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Matt. 2: 2) Herod was troubled by this because of the prophecies that a Governor would be raised up out of Bethlehem to rule Israel. But he sent the wise men on their way, and asked them to send him word once they had found the baby Jesus.

The wise men then “departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” (Matt. 2: 9) They found the Baby Jesus and worshiped him presented unto him three gifts (which is why people tend to say three wise men): gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Then, “being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.” (Matt. 2: 12)


Additional Resources

Nativity Video and Resources
Primary 1: Lesson 46: The Birth of Jesus Christ (Christmas)
Primary 2: Lesson 7: The Birth of Jesus Christ Brought Joy to the Earth
Primary 3: Lesson 47: Jesus Christ Was Born on Earth (Christmas)