In today’s Spotlight, we tell one of the most famous stories in the world: the story of Christmas, and the birth of Jesus Christ.
Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.
In today’s Spotlight we tell a famous story. In fact, it may be the most famous story in history! This is the Christmas Story. It is about the birth of a special baby. The story begins 2,000 years ago in the small town of Nazareth in ancient Israel.
At that time, a man named Caesar Augustus was the leader of the Roman Kingdom. Augustus wanted officials to count each person of his kingdom. So he ordered a census. Each family in the kingdom had to return to its home town. A man named Joseph lived in the town of Nazareth. Joseph was engaged to a woman named Mary. Soon, they would be married. Joseph’s family was from the town of Bethlehem. So Joseph and Mary had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
This trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was long. And Mary was very pregnant. She would have a baby very soon. So Mary and Joseph had to travel slowly. As they travelled, Mary remembered a time before she was pregnant. One day about a year ago, an angel had visited her. This messenger of God called himself Gabriel. Gabriel said:
“Mary! You are truly blessed. God is with you.”
Mary was surprised and frightened. But the angel said:
“Do not be afraid! God is very pleased with you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must name him Jesus. He will be great and people will call him the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king. He will rule forever over his people. His Kingdom will never end.”
Mary was engaged to Joseph. But she was not married. They had never had sex. Mary wondered how she would become pregnant. But the angel said:
“God’s Holy Spirit will come to you, and the power of God will come over you. Because of this, the child will be holy. People will call him the Son of God.”
Mary answered the angel simply.
“I serve the Lord. May it happen to me just as you said it would.”
Now Mary was pregnant, and travelling to Bethlehem. After almost a week, they finally arrived.
Joseph began to look for a place to stay. He asked a man in a house nearby.
“I am Joseph. This is Mary. We are in Bethlehem to be counted in the census. And we are looking for a place to rest for the night. Can we stay here, in one of your empty rooms?”
The man told him:
“No, we have no room for visitors.”
Joseph continued to ask for a room at many houses. But no one had any room for the tired couple. Finally, one man told them:
“I see that the woman is very pregnant. We do not have any room inside the house. However, you can stay outside in our stable. It is not a comfortable room. This is where our animals stay. But, it will be a shelter and you can find some soft straw to lie on.”
Joseph and Mary agreed to stay in the man’s stable. In one corner there was a small manger. The manger held hay, a kind of grass, for the animals to eat. While Mary and Joseph were there, the time came for Mary’s baby to be born.
“Joseph it’s time! This baby will be born tonight!”
“Are you sure?!”
“Yes! Hurry! I am sure tonight will be the night!
It was late at night. The stars shined brightly over the stable. Finally, Mary’s baby was born. Mary praised God for the gift of a healthy baby. She tied cloth around him to keep him warm. There was no place to lay him, so Mary laid him in the manger. The soft hay grass was the baby’s bed. Joseph and Mary named the baby Jesus.
On the same night, in a different part of Bethlehem there was a group of shepherds. They were watching their flocks of sheep. The shepherds settled down for the night. While some of the shepherds slept, others stayed awake to watch the sheep. Suddenly, a heavenly angel appeared in the sky. God’s light shined all around them. The shepherds were extremely frightened.
“What is that!?”
“I have never seen anything like that before!”
“No, stay here, the angel is about to speak!”
“Do not be afraid! I am here to announce a great and joyful event. This event will bless all people around the world. A savior has just been born in Bethlehem. The savior will be the Messiah and King. Go and look for him. This is what you will look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.
Immediately, a large crowd of angels appeared. The angels sang “Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him!” The shepherds were amazed by the angels.
When the angels left them, they began to talk.
“We must go to Bethlehem!”
“Yes! We need to see this savior who has been born!”
So the shepherds left their sheep. They began running toward Bethlehem to find the new baby. They searched everywhere. Finally, they found Mary and Joseph. They found the baby, Jesus, wrapped in cloth and lying in the manger. They fell to their knees to worship the newly born baby.
As the shepherds left, they praised God. They told everyone they met about what the angels had said about the baby. Everyone who heard their story was amazed.
In the small stable, Mary comforted her new baby. She held him close. She would remember this special night through her whole life.
This is the amazing story of Jesus’ birth. Every year at Christmas, Christians celebrate this event. They tell this story. Children and adults perform the story in plays. They tell it again and again to remember why they celebrate the holiday of Christmas.
But, Christians know that the Christmas story is only the beginning of a larger story. When Jesus grew up, he was a great teacher. He lived a perfect life. And he did many miracles. Jesus was not just any man. Jesus was God’s son. He was born on earth to save people from their sins - all the wrong things they do. This is the miracle Christians celebrate at Christmas. Jesus, God’s son, came down to earth as a weak and helpless baby. But, just as the angels said, he would sacrifice himself for all people, around the world. That is the true meaning of the Christmas story.
We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.