How often do we read the words in Luke or Matthew without really thinking about them? Sure, we know the basic story, but have we ever really looked at how God constructed it. So, this year, we read through the Christmas story as told by both Luke and Matthew and wrote down all the ‘characters’ we encountered in our reading. Over the next 13 episodes we will be talking about these characters and their importance in the Christmas story. We hope it will help you shine fresh eyes on Christmas and the beauty of how God wove it together. Stop for a moment and listen to the scriptures in Luke and Matthew while we get ready for Cast of the Christmas Story to start on 12/4!
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How often do we read the words in Luke or Matthew without really thinking about them? Sure, we know the basic story, but have we ever really looked at how God constructed it? So, this year we read through the Christmas story as told by both Luke and Matthew, and wrote down all the characters we encountered in our reading. Over the next 13 episodes, we will be talking about these characters and their importance in the Christmas story. We hope it will help you shine fresh eyes on Christmas, and the beauty of how God wove it together. Let’s take a moment to pause now and look at the scriptures we will be covering first from Luke two, one through 20.
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 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. 5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. 8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
And now from the book of Matthew chapter one, verses 18 through chapter two to 23.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men[a] from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” 3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: 6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” 9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.The Escape to Egypt 13 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 15 and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.” 16 Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. 17 Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A cry was heard in Ramah— weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead.” The Return to Nazareth 19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. 20 “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” 21 So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. 22 But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee. 23 So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
The Cast of the Christmas story series is sponsored by World Concern. You can give a gift with a lifetime of impact. Your gift will meet the critical need of a child or family living in poverty. You can give a goat or a one of 43 other life-changing gifts today, through the World Concern Global Gift Guide. Give life-changing gifts that work together to transform the lives of moms, dads, and children in the world’s poorest places. You can even select a meaningful gift in honor of a friend or loved one. Each gift transforms the life of someone in poverty. Go to globalgiftguide.org. Again, that’s globalgiftguide.org.