At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.
(This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
All returned to their own towns to register for this census.
And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.
He took with him Mary, his fianc'e, who was obviously pregnant by this time.
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.
She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.
That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep.
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened,
but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone!
The Savior -- yes, the Messiah, the Lord -- has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!
And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!"
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others -- the armies of heaven -- praising God:
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors. "
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.
Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.
All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished,
but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.
The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.
Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
Then it was time for the purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
The law of the Lord says, "If a woman's first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord."
So they offered a sacrifice according to what was required in the law of the Lord -- "either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."
Now there was a man named Simeon who lived in Jerusalem. He was a righteous man and very devout. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he eagerly expected the Messiah to come and rescue Israel.
The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah.
That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required,
Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
"Lord, now I can die in peace! As you promised me,
I have seen the Savior
you have given to all people.
He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!"
Joseph and Mary were amazed at what was being said about Jesus.
Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, "This child will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy to many others.
Thus, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul."
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, and was very old. She was a widow, for her husband had died when they had been married only seven years.
She was now eighty-four years old. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer.
She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about Jesus to everyone who had been waiting for the promised King to come and deliver Jerusalem.
When Jesus' parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee.
There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom beyond his years, and God placed his special favor upon him.
Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.
When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual.
After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn't miss him at first,
because they assumed he was with friends among the other travelers. But when he didn't show up that evening, they started to look for him among their relatives and friends.
When they couldn't find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there.
Three days later they finally discovered him. He was in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, discussing deep questions with them.
And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
His parents didn't know what to think. "Son!" his mother said to him. "Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere."
"But why did you need to search?" he asked. "You should have known that I would be in my Father's house."
But they didn't understand what he meant.
Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them; and his mother stored all these things in her heart.
So Jesus grew both in height and in wisdom, and he was loved by God and by all who knew him.