Catholic Bible Study Series: Nativity of Christ in the Gospels

 


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As we approach celebration of Christmas, reflecting on Christ's birth will not only help us to bring into our families the spirit of Christmas but also will help us to appreciate the mystery of Christ's birth and it's meaning.

Only two Evangelists, Matthew and Luke, describe in their gospels the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Gospels of Saints Mark and John, describing the life of Jesus, begin with the description of John's (the Baptizer) ministry and Jesus baptism. The gospel of Saint Luke offers the most details not only about Jesus’ birth but also about his childhood as well.

Nativity of Christ in the Gospel According to Saint Matthew.

The story of nativity of Christ in Matthew's Gospel can be found the the chapter 1 (verses 18-25). An the entire chapter 3 is dedicated to some events in Jesus’ early life; visit of Astrologers, flight to Egypt and return to Nazareth after Herod's death. As was mentioned in one of the previous articles in this series, the main audience of Matthew's Gospel were members of Jedeo-Christian circles. Very likely this audience was familiar with God's promises to send His “Anointed One" and even with the details of his birth. This explains why Matthew's gospel, in the verse 23, quotes from the prophecy of Isaiah regarding Christ's birth:

Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel (which means, God with us). (Isaiah 7:1).
As well as the citation, in the chapter 2 verse 6, from the prophet Micah regarding the place of Christs birth:
And you, O Bethlehem, in the and of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel. (Micah 5:1).
Describing the flight to Egypt and the eventual return of Joseph and Mary with child Jesus, aligns Christ along the history of Israel and Moses.

Nativity of Christ in the Gospel according to Saint Luke.

Luke provides us with most details from Childhood of Jesus. From him we learn about the birth of John the Baptizer and it is from Luke that we learn that both Jesus and John the Baptizer have “met" while being in the wombs of their mothers. Luke interconnects the birth of John and Jesus pointing out that the same angel (Gabriel) was send by God to announce the birth of each child. Luke being diligent about details, tells us that John the Baptist was about 6 month older Jesus:

And behold your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the six month with her who was called barren
Evangelist Luke also provides us wit an explanation why did Joseph and Mary ended up in Bethlehem for the time of Jesus’ birth, but also links Christ's birth to a historical event when Caesar Augustus decreed to take the census of the people. It is also worth noticing that the genealogy of Jesus is not connected to his birth in Luke's Gospel but rather to the beginning of his public ministry. Both evangelists provide us with much material to meditate and ponder upon. Christ's birth was both a fulfillment of messianic promises (according to Matthew) and arrival of a Savior to the entire world (according to Luke).

Eugenia Brown is a writer for Everything Catholic! - website that promotes products from Ingatius Press, a Catholic Publisher. There you can find books and literature on variety of topics including Bible .

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