This is the first post of three concerning the lesser-known facts of the birth of Jesus. Therefore, I would like to share briefly with you a few of these lesser-known facts concerning His birth. Moreover, I believe you will discover and have a deeper appreciation as we discover a bit more of what God was revealing by taking a brief look at the original Greek words used. Likewise, I will attempt to share a little on the culture during the time of the birth of Christ. Hence, I pray the story will come alive in your heart as it did me, as never before.
Everything in Scripture is included for a purpose. Every person and every place has meaning.
Proverbs 25:2 states: It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings is to search out a matter. – Modern English Version (MEV)
When we search for the gemstones in scripture we discover many precious jewels. Some are close to the surface. However, many are buried deeper and take a little more time to discover the beautiful truths of God’s wonderful revelations to those willing to search out a matter as the above verse states.
When was Jesus Born?
As Christians, here in the United States, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th even though we know that Jesus was not born in the wintertime. There are a few different opinions on the exact date scholars and theologians have determined are the correct. However, the one that makes the most sense to me is September 29th 2 BC. If this is the correct date His birth fell on the Feast of Trumpets.
Luke 1:26-33 – The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.”
29 When she saw him, she was troubled by his words and considered in her mind what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Listen, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son and shall call His name JESUS. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. And of His kingdom, there will be no end.” (Luke 1:26-33 Modern English Version (MEV))
Yahweh’s Selection of Mary
Selected by God before the foundation of the world to give birth to Christ. Mary was highly-favored and purposely chosen. Mary was and still is a central figure to the Christian faith. Moreover, in addition to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul, other Early Church leaders wrote and recorded a substantial amount of historical information about Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and his family.
For example, we know Jesus’ grandfather on Joseph’s side was Jacob (see Matthew 1:16), and according to some writings, His grandfather on Mary’s side, which would have been Mary’s father, was Joachim.
Jesus also had cousins on Mary’s side of the family named Zacharias and Elizabeth. Their child John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin (see Luke 1).
As far as siblings, the Bible reveals that Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters. Matthew 13:55-56 identifies them as James, Jude, Joseph, Simeon, and “his sisters.” Thus, the New Testament gives us 14 members of Jesus’ family (with Jesus included).
The Betrothal aka Engagement
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. – Luke 1:27
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened this way: After His mother, Mary was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child by the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 1:18 Modern English Version (MEV)
Jewish girls were traditionally eligible for “betrothal/engagement” at the age of 12. Many believe that Mary was between the ages of 12 and 14 when she became “betrothed” to Joseph.
Once a man and woman are betrothed they make a public announcement of the marital intention is made. It is a Jewish tradition.
Moreover, in the Jewish culture, a man and woman were officially considered as husband and wife once the public announcement was made. This public announcement declared that the couple was in a year of preparation and purity until the day of their joining. During the one-year preparation time, the couple did not have sex.
This is important to keep in mind when we consider the action and mercy of Joseph later on.
Early Christian records show that Mary’s parents were older and had no children. They prayed for a long time for God to give them a child, and they had made a vow that if the Lord would give them a child, they would give that child to the Lord.
When Mary was born, her parents presented her to the Lord and dedicated her to God’s service.
The situation of Mary’s parents is similar to Hannah’s who also prayed for a child and dedicated the young Samuel to the Lord. (see 1 Samuel 1:21-28)
From the time she was an infant, the understanding of being dedicated to God was instilled into her. Moreover, her parents told her she had been born into the world to serve God. Thus, she was raised to believe that she had a special purpose, and she believed it.
Therefore, when God revealed His will to her through Gabriel, she accepted it without a deep struggle. She had been intentionally prepared by her parents and taught to serve God faithfully — explicitly obeying whatever God asked her to do. (see Luke 1:38) God knew the birth of Jesus and his upbringing by Mary and Joseph was the perfect choice for His Son.
Additionally, early records tell us that Mary’s father was in full-time ministry as a scroll scholar. He was the overseer of the sacred scrolls in the synagogue of the nearby town of Sepphoris. This means his life was built around a commitment to the Scriptures.
As a scroll scholar, he was in the synagogue all the time, as that is where the scrolls were kept. Consequently, his family was involved in service to the Lord as well. Today, we might say Mary’s father was a dedicated, church-going-man of the Word. He and his family were in church, and their lives were built around serving God.
Consequently, Mary’s parents raised her in a home where God’s Word was a priority, and it shaped her spiritually and made her spiritually sensitive. She was raised to believe she was to obey God.
The City of Sepphoris
Sepphoris was built by Herod Antipas, one of the sons of Herod the Great. Antipas wanted to erect a city that would become the magnificent “ornament of Galilee.” Accordingly, he began construction of the city, pouring abundant finances and great effort into its development. It soon became the banking center of the Middle East.
Many affluent and exceedingly wealthy people flocked to Sepphoris and took up residence there. It was a lively city on the cutting-edge of culture.
Most of the workers in Sepphoris lived nearby in Nazareth, which was only about four miles away. However, Other workers, like Mary’s father who was the sacred scroll scholar in the synagogue of Sepphoris, actually lived in the city. Hence, Mary more than likely grew up in Sepphoris.
Yahweh’s Selection of Joseph
God’s selection of Joseph to be Jesus’ foster father was not an accident, nor was it the result of a random choice as some try to teach. Being the foster father of Jesus, the Son of God, was not a position just anyone could fill. It required just the right person — someone kind, humble, faithful, successful, spiritually attuned to the voice of God, and quick to obey. Joseph was that man.
Matthew 13:55 states that Jesus was “the carpenter’s son.” Many people have erroneously believed that carpenters were poor, but that doesn’t line up with historical facts or the context of the Greek in this verse.
The Greek word translated as “carpenter” is tekton, which is where we get the word technology. The word tekton describes a person that is highly advanced in whatever skill he possessed. It depicts one who makes exquisite furniture, jewelry, mosaics, stonework, or even one who is a building supervisor. Therefore, the word “carpenter” is a very limiting, poor translation of the word tekton.
As a tekton /carpenter, Joseph was advanced in the technical skills he possessed. He was not just a simple carpenter that worked with wood. Rather, he was a highly paid professional. Most scholars believe he was probably a building supervisor or some other highly-skilled craftsman with a lot of authority.
Although he lived in Nazareth, it is almost certain he worked as a tekton in the nearby city of Sepphoris. It was in this highly affluent town that Joseph most likely met Mary’s parents since Mary’s father maintained the library of scrolls in the synagogue of Sepphoris.
Indeed, Joseph was up and coming in society, and they could see he was very good in his profession as a tekton/carpenter.
Faithful and Full of Integrity
At some point, Mary’s parents probably saw Joseph working and thought, Wow, what a remarkable and successful young man! He is faithful, full of integrity, and well-to-do. He is the kind of young man we would like to marry our daughter.
God entrusts great riches and great assignments to people whom He has found to be faithful in past assignments. Based on how God works, and the principles taught throughout the Scriptures, we know Joseph had been faithful in his profession as well as in how he handled money or God would never have chosen him for this amazing assignment.
In Luke 16:11, Jesus said, “So if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” – Modern English Version (MEV)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened this way: After His mother, Mary was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child by the Holy Spirit.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man and not willing to make her a public example, had in mind to divorce her privately.
20 But while he thought on these things, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for He who is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
24 Then Joseph, being awakened from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and remained with his wife, 25 and did not know her until she had given birth to her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS. – Matthew 1:18-25 Modern English Version (MEV)
Joseph Proved to Be Merciful
Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant before they had come together sexually. Given the fact that Joseph was “betrothed/engaged” to Mary, he had the “legal right” to put her away publicly/divorce her. Moreover, he could have even required her to be stoned for becoming pregnant before marriage.
If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, even he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. – Matthew 1:18-25 Modern English Version (MEV)
However, he was more concerned about Mary and did not want Mary to suffer humiliation and public embarrassment. He truly loved her and cared more about her than his own reputation. Therefore, he decided to take a merciful approach to the situation instead of a legalistic approach.
Joseph, Jesus’ foster father, though committed to Scripture and a man of integrity, was not religiously mean and legalistic. God trusted Joseph with the birth of Jesus, the Son of God. Joseph was just the kind of man God desired to raise His Son.
Joseph Was Obedient to God
Amazingly, even in the midst of an extremely difficult situation, Joseph’s heart was so spiritually attuned that he could hear God speak. Not only was Joseph able to hear God’s voice he was also obedient to God’s voice.
Once Joseph heard from the Lord, he did not hesitate but quickly obeyed what he was told to do. This tells us that obeying God was not new in Joseph’s life.
Over time, he had developed a pattern of obedience. God knew Joseph would obey His directives, which is another reason He knew He would entrust Joseph with the responsibility of overseeing the birth of Jesus and helping to raise Jesus.
In post #2, we will take a look at the significance of the travel to Bethlehem and the Angel’s proclamation to certain shepherds watching over their flocks by night surrounding the birth of Jesus.
Be encouraged! Until we meet again, I am, Passionately Loving Jesus, The Anchor of my soul!
If you are not yet a follower of Christ, know that God loves you and is longing for a RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU! It is not a coincidence that you have come across this website and especially this article. God has an awesome plan for your life!
Scriptures used are from biblegateway.com and unless otherwise noted, I’m using the New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
DIG DEEPER – Suggested Teachings from Rick Renner: