In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was Christ¹.
¹[In Judaism, Messiah from the Hebrew word מָשִׁיחַ or māšîaḥ “the anointed one” ]
He was at the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. The light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not understand it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John [the baptist]; who came to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. The world was made through Christ, yet the world did not know him.
Christ would come to his own people², and most would not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God; those who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
So the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory; glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. And from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; but grace and truth came through Christ. No one has ever seen God; only Christ, who is at the Father’s side, has God made visible.
The Conception of John the Baptist
In the days of Herod the Great, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife, Elizabeth, from the daughters of Aaron. They were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was infertile and both were quite old.
While he was serving as priest before God and when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And a great multitude of people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
There appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he will not drink wine or strong drink, and will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. Behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”
The people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. When he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple and he kept making signs to them and remained mute. When his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
Soon after that day his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my shame among people.”
The Conception of Jesus the Christ
When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee called Nazareth; to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. Gabriel came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the message, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
Gabriel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus [Yeshua]. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor King David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”. And the angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your cousin Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was barren, for nothing is impossible for God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, exclaiming with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Mary prophesied, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. Behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
The Birth of John the Baptist
The time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child and they wanted to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.”
They asked Zechariah what he wanted him to be called and he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosened, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbours and all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea. All who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring [Christ] shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Joseph Learns of Mary’s Pregnancy
The birth of Jesus took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they had intercourse, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to break off the engagement quietly.
But as he considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus [Yeshua], for he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
The Birth of Jesus
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the region should be registered to pay tax. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to be registered, each to his own town.
Joseph went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be registered. And he brought Mary with him.
While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Shepherd’s Story
In the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
The angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
They went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby was lying in a manger. And when they saw him, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. All who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Jesus Brought to Jerusalem
At the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus; the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) [Ex#13:2] and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Messiah.
And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Joseph and Mary marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against, so that the thoughts from many hearts may be revealed. But a sword will pierce through your own soul also.”
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.