An easy-to-understand, read-aloud, Christmas story!
Long ago, before the birth of Jesus, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
-Isaiah 9: 1-6
For many years, the people of God waited for the complete fulfillment of this prophecy until one special day.
It was a time of conquest, oppression, and idolatry. The Romans controlled everything, and King Herod placed forbidden idols in the Jewish temples. There were spies everywhere and heavy taxes to pay. Many lived in poverty and in fear of their lives. There were too many people and often not enough food. In such conditions, there was plenty of disease and sickness. The Jews lived in terror and despair under Roman rule.
Into this dark and hopeless world, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was very bothered and couldn’t figure out what kind of greeting this was, or maybe she was imagining things. Can you imagine how you’d feel if an angel talked to you like that?
But the angel quickly made her feel better, and he said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has chosen you to give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He’s going to be very great, and he will be called the Son of the Most High. He will reign forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Now another angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Take Mary home as your wife, and she will give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.”
Joseph woke up, and he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do. He took Mary home as his wife.
So Joseph and Mary became husband and wife and lived happily together, waiting for baby Jesus to be born. Suddenly, they heard a knock on their door, and what did they discover? A decree from Caesar Augustus!
The Town Crier shouted, “Now, hear ye, hear ye! Bring your money to me! You need to pay your taxes, so everyone has to return to their own towns to register.”
So Joseph and Mary started to back their things so that they could go back to their hometown.
Now Joseph and Mary had to go from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem. It was a very, very long journey. They were tired. By the time they got to Bethlehem, it was as crowded as a free day in Disneyland. Can you imagine if anyone said, “Today you can enter Disneyland for free!”? You wouldn’t be able to move!
Anyway, Bethlehem was filled with people all filling out forms and finding out how much money they would have to pay. Taxes and more taxes! They weren’t happy, either.
While Joseph and Mary were there in the middle of all this busyness, the time came for the baby to be born. But there were no hotel rooms available for them in the town! Everywhere they went, the innkeepers would say, “Sorry, filled up.”
Joseph and Mary were discouraged. It was late at night, and just when they were ready to give up, right at the last moment, they found a kind innkeeper who saw how desperate they were. He said, “I don’t have any rooms left to rent. But you can stay in the stable. The only problem is that I keep my animals there…and it might be a bit smelly and not very nice.”
Joseph and Mary were so grateful and thanked him many times. The innkeeper showed them the way to the stable. Joseph and Mary quickly made a cozy bed in the manger and prepared for the birth of Baby Jesus.
When Jesus was born, they laid him in the manger and thanked God for this wonderful gift he had given them.
Meanwhile, there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night, just chilling, and checking to make sure no wild animals were going to eat their sheep. And they were wondering about this huge, brilliant star they could see in the distance.
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were sick with fear. The angel took one look at them and said, “Don’t be scared. I’ve got rocking good news that will make everyone very happy. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. God has sent him to help you through all your problems and save you from sadness. You will find this baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
After the angels had left them, the shepherds looked at one another and said, “Let’s go check out Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which God has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they left and couldn’t wait to tell everyone about the angels and Baby Jesus the King, and they encouraged everyone to go see him.
Now the Magi (whom we call the Three Kings) had seen this same amazing star that the shepherds had seen. So they decided to follow the star too. The star went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the Baby Jesus was.
When they saw the star had stopped, they were so happy. They quickly jumped off their camels and went into the stable. There they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
When they had finished seeing Jesus, the Magi went back home to tell all the wonderful news of Jesus’ birth. And after they left, many others, rich and poor, big and small, brought their gifts for Baby Jesus.
And beginning with that first Christmas day till today, we thank God for his love and care for us and for giving us the very best gift we could ever get—his son Jesus.
Through the years, there have been many great people who have given their lives for Jesus and who want to spread the love of Jesus to everyone they meet. Let’s all go out and do the same!
Let’s remember that Christmas is about Jesus, our Savior, who came to be with us to love us, help us, guide us, preserve us, and provide us everything we need. No one can ever take that away from us. No matter what happens in our lives, we can be sure of one thing—Jesus will love us and be with us forever. Isn’t that the best gift ever?
Photo credit: Scott Prusko