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12

Joy to You and Me

Key References: Luke 2:1-20; The Desire of Ages, chap. 4, pp. 43-49; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 7, pp. 27-42; Our Beliefs nos. 4, 3, 10

Power Text

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20).

Power Point

We worship God when we accept the gift of His Son.

Think of a time you heard some really good news. How hard was it to keep it to yourself? How did you share it with your friends and family? Read on to find out how angels and shepherds shared the good news they heard. When you have finished the story, think how you can spread the same good news today.

No doubt the whole town was buzzing with the news. The emperor Caesar Augustus had issued a decree that there should be a census of all the countries in the Roman Empire. Everyone who came into Joseph’s workshop was talking about it. The older customers moaned and groaned; the younger ones thought it would be great fun to make a journey back to where their families had come from, meeting distant cousins and making new friends.

That evening Joseph gently broke the news to Mary; they would have to make the journey to Bethlehem, since they were King David’s descendants. Everyone had to go back to the place that their family had come from.

In a few days everything was packed and ready to go. They would make the journey slowly, camping along the way. Mary couldn’t walk the 80 miles, and even riding on a donkey was uncomfortable. However, Joseph did his best guiding the donkey to avoid the bumps in the road.

It was evening, many days later, when they finally arrived in Bethlehem. All the inns were full. They trudged from one inn to the next, but no one had any room for them. The innkeepers were sorry, but they were full. Undoubtedly Mary was so tired that she felt as if she would burst into tears any minute. It had been such a long journey.

Joseph knocked at one more door. As the innkeeper said no, he caught sight of Mary. He saw Mary’s condition and felt sorry for the exhausted couple. “I don’t have any rooms in the house, but you are welcome to stay in the stable,” he said abruptly. Mary and Joseph knew the stable sounded better than staying outside all night. It would be warm and dry. They gladly accepted.

That night Baby Jesus was born. Mary did not have a crib for him, so Joseph cleaned out the feed from a feed trough and put fresh straw in it. Mary took the swaddling cloths she had prepared, and wrapped the baby snugly. Then she laid Baby Jesus gently in the cleaned-out feed trough—a manger.

Outside Bethlehem some shepherds sat by the fire talking, watching for anything prowling in the shadows that might attack their sheep. They had been talking about the promised Messiah and praying that God would send Him soon. Perhaps they were just discussing the Scriptures and trying to understand the prophecies. They felt sure that it was almost time for the Messiah to come.

Suddenly there was a dazzling light in the sky. The shepherds covered their faces and shrank back in fear. What was it? Then they heard a glorious musical sound that they had never heard before.

The angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

The sky blazed even more brightly and filled with angels singing praises to God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:10-14).

No doubt the shepherds looked on, speechless. They had never seen or heard anything so beautiful. Then, just as suddenly, the angels disappeared.

Everything seemed very dark and quiet. Likely no one dared to say anything, as no one wanted to break the wonder of the moment. Then they all began to speak: “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened” (verse 15). They left their sheep and started toward the town. At first they walked, then jogged, and then they ran down the hillside as fast as they could go. They had to be sure that this was not a dream.

They found the family just as the angel had described. Mary and Joseph sat admiring their baby Son as He lay in the manger. The shepherds knelt and worshipped the Baby. They praised God for His amazing gift.

As they went back to the hillside, they told everyone they met about the angels and the Baby who had come to save all people. From that day on they kept praising God for sharing the good news of His wonderful gift with everyday people.