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Beginnings

The Word of God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word resided with God, and the Word was God; he was there all along. Everything that exists is because of him, and not one thing exists that he didn’t make. He brought life into being, to illuminate people. This light shines into the darkness, and the darkness can’t stop it.

We all received limitless favor from him. Though the law was given through Moses, favor and truth came through Jesus the Anointed One. Though no one has ever seen God, he is now revealed by the Unique God, who is the closest to the Father.

Jesus’ genealogy from Abraham

This is the account of the lineage of Jesus the Anointed One, descendant of David and Abraham:

Abraham fathered Isaac, who fathered Jacob, who fathered Judah and his siblings. Judah fathered Perez and Zara by Tamar, and Perez fathered Hezron, who fathered Aram, who fathered Aminadab, who fathered Nahshon, who fathered Salmon, who fathered Boaz by Rahab. Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth, and Obed fathered Jesse, who fathered King David, who fathered Solomon by Uriah’s wife.

Solomon fathered Rehoboam, who fathered Abijah, who fathered Asa, who fathered Jehosophat, who fathered Joram, who fathered Uzzaiah, who fathered Jotham, who fathered Ahaz, who fathered Hezekiah, who fathered Manasseh, who fathered Amos, who fathered Josiah, who fathered Jechoniah and his siblings at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah fathered Shealtiel, who fathered Zorobabel, who fathered Abiud, who fathered Eliakim, who fathered Azor, who fathered Zadok, who fathered Achim, who fathered Eliud, who fathered Eleazar, who fathered Matthan, who fathered Jacob, who fathered Joseph the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Anointed One.

So there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Anointed One.

Jesus’ genealogy to Adam

Jesus was presumed to be the son of Joseph, of Heli, of Matthat, of Levi, of Melchi, of Jannai, of Joseph, of Mattathias, of Amos, of Nahum, of Esli, of Naggai, of Maath, of Mattathias, of Semein, of Josech, of Joda, of Joanan, of Rhesa, of Zorobabel, of Salathiel, of Neri, of Melchi, of Addi, of Cosam, of Elmadam, of Er.

Er was the son of Joshua, of Eliezer, of Jorim, of Matthat, of Levi, of Simon, of Judah, of Joseph, of Jonam, of Eliakim, of Melea, of Menna, of Mattatha, of Nathan, of David, of Jesse, of Obed, of Boaz, of Sala, of Nahshon, of Aminadab, of Admin, of Arni, of Hezron, of Phares, of Judah.

Judah was the son of Jacob, of Isaac, of Abraham, of Terah, of Nahor, of Serug, of Reu, of Peleg, of Eber, of Sala, of Cainan, of Arphaxad, of Shem, of Noah, of Lamech, of Methusaleh, of Enoch, of Jared, of Mahalalel, of Cainan, of Enosh, of Seth, of Adam, and finally of God.

The Forerunner

In the days of Herod the king of Judea there was a certain priest by the name of Zacharias, of the Abijah order. His wife Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron. They were both righteous by God’s standards, flawlessly performing every command and decree the Master gave. But they had no child because Elizabeth was infertile, and they were quite elderly.

One day it came time for Zacharias to perform his priestly duties before God according to his order, and he was chosen by chance to burn incense and enter the Holiest Place in the temple. A large crowd was praying outside at the time the incense was burned. But Zacharias was very disturbed and afraid when he saw an angel of the Master standing to the right of the altar of incense.

“Do not be afraid, Zacharias,” the angel said to him. “Your request has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to name him John. His birth will bring happiness and great joy to you and many others. He will be very important to the Master. He must never drink wine or any other intoxicating beverage, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even as he leaves his mother’s womb. He will also turn many in Israel back to the Master their God, and he will be God’s forerunner in the spirit and power of Elijah. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children, and turn the incorrigible into the sensible and righteous, to prepare the people to meet their Master.”

But Zacharias doubted the angel. “What reason do I have to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is well along in years herself.”

“I am Gabriel, the one who stands before God!” the angel replied. “I was sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. Now pay attention! You will be unable to hear or speak until the day these things come to pass, because you did not believe what I told you.”

Meanwhile, the people outside were waiting for Zacharias and wondered what was taking so long in the temple. But when he came out making motions with his hands and not speaking, they realized that he had seen a vision. Then when his term of priestly service was completed, he returned to his home, and not long afterwards his wife Elizabeth conceived. She went into seclusion for five months and said to herself, “This is how the Master has taken away my social shame; in these days he has noticed me!”

The prediction about Jesus

In Elizabeth’s sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth. He went to a woman of marriageable age who was engaged to a man named Joseph from the line of David. The woman’s name was Mary, and the angel spoke to her: “Greetings, favored one! The Master is with you!” When she heard this she was concerned and confused, wondering what it was about.

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” said the angel. “God looks favorably on you. Listen, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest, and God the Master will give him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end!”

“But how can this be,” asked Mary, “since I haven’t been intimate with a man?”

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will envelope you,” the angel answered. “This is why the holy one being conceived will be called the God-Man. Even your relative Elizabeth is also expecting a son in her old age; she who was considered infertile is in her sixth month! Nothing is impossible for God.”

“I am the Master’s servant,” Mary responded. “May it happen as you have said.” And the angel went away.

Mary visits Elizabeth

At that time Mary hurried into the hill country to a city in Judea. She entered the home of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb jumped for joy. Then Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and shouted out, “You are blessed among women, and blessed is the child within you! How is it that the mother of my Master should visit me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby within me jumped for joy! And blessed is she who believed that what she was told by the Master would come to pass!”

Then Mary said, “My soul exalts the Master, and my spirit jumps for joy about God my Savior, for he noticed his humble servant! From now on, every generation will consider me blessed because the Powerful One did great things for me. His name is holy, and his compassion extends from generation to generation for those who fear him.

“He has ruled with power and might; he has scattered those whose minds are filled with contempt; he has pulled rulers from their thrones. But he has lifted up the oppressed; he has satisfied the hungry while sending the rich away empty-handed. At the right time he has remembered to have eternal mercy on his child Israel, just as he said to our ancestors, to Abraham’s descendants.”

Mary stayed there until Elizabeth gave birth, and then she returned to her own home.

The birth of John the Immerser

The time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she had a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard about how the Master had shown her great mercy, so they celebrated with her. When the eighth day arrived, they came to circumcise the little boy, and they intended to name him after his father Zacharias. But his mother said “No! He is to be named John.”

“But there is no one among your relatives by that name,” they objected. So they motioned to his father to see what he wanted to name him. He pointed to a writing tablet, and when they gave it to him, to their great surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” Instantly he was able to hear and speak again, and he began to praise God. Fear came upon all the neighbors, and this account spread throughout the whole hill country of Judea. Everyone who heard about it wondered what this little boy would turn out to be, because it was obvious that the Master was with him.

His father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this divine message: “Praise to the Master, the God of Israel, for he chose and redeemed his people! He awakened a powerful deliverance for us from the line of his servant David, just as he said through his holy prophets in ancient times. He brought deliverance from all who hate us, to have compassion on our ancestors; he remembered his holy covenant which he swore on oath to our ancestor Abraham; he granted that we would be rescued from the clutches of our enemies, so we could spend our lives serving him without fear and in devoutness and justice.

“Now as for you, little one, you will be called a prophet of the Highest. You will lead the way before the Master, to prepare his paths. You will give the knowledge of salvation to his people, the pardon of their sins through the deep compassion of our God. The sun will rise high to visit us, to shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, and to light the way for our feet on the road to peace.”

So the little boy grew and became spiritually powerful, and he lived in the desert until he presented himself to Israel.

The birth of Jesus

This is the account of the birth of Jesus the Anointed One: His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married it was discovered that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. But her husband Joseph, being a decent person, didn’t want to make a public spectacle of her, so he intended to divorce her quietly.

While he was mulling all these things over, suddenly an angel of the Master appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, don’t hesitate to accept Mary as your wife, because what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus, since he will save his people from their sins.”

This all happened in order to fulfill what the Master said through the prophet: “Look! The virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son. They will name him Emmanuel, which means ’God is with us’.” Then Joseph woke up from his sleep and did as the angel told him. (He eventually married her but had no intimacy with her until she gave birth to a son, whom she would name Jesus.)

It was in those days that Caesar Augustus issued a decree to take a census of the whole inhabited world. This mandate to register everyone took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So everyone traveled to their hometown, and Joseph was one of them. He went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee into Judea, to the City of David called Bethlehem, since he was of the house and lineage of David. He registered together with his fiancée Mary, who was pregnant. And it so happened that while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She had her firstborn son and wrapped him in baby clothes, but she had to lay him in a feeding trough because there wasn’t even one room available for them in the inn.

There were shepherds camping out in the area to watch over their flocks throughout the night, when suddenly an angel of the Master stood beside them! The majesty of the Master shone around them as well, and they were terrified. “Don’t be afraid,” the angel said to them, “because I’m here to announce good news to you, happy news to all the people! Today the Savior, the Anointed Master, was born to you in the City of David. And here is a sign for you: You will find the infant wrapped in baby clothes and lying in a feeding trough.”

Suddenly the angel was joined by the whole celestial army, all praising God: “The highest honor to God, and peace on earth to the people with whom he is pleased!” While the angels were on their way back to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “By all means, let’s go over to Bethlehem to see what the Master told us has happened!”

So they hurried along and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant was lying in the feeding trough. Then they told everyone about the announcement that had been given to them concerning this little one. Everyone who heard it was amazed about what the shepherds told them, but Mary mulled over in her mind what all these things could mean. Then the shepherds went away, honoring and praising God on account of everything they had heard and seen, which was just as they had been told.

When the eighth day arrived for the baby to be circumcised, he was given the name Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived. After the days of cleansing required by the law of Moses were completed, they took him into Jerusalem to present to the Master. (It’s written in the law of the Master that every first-born male is to be consecrated to him by presenting the sacrifice the law requires: a pair of doves or two young pigeons.)

It just so happened that there was someone in Jerusalem by the name of Simon. He was a righteous and conscientious person who was expecting the Comfort of Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die without first seeing the Master’s Anointed One. The Spirit prompted him to go into the temple compound, where the parents of little Jesus were admitting him in order to fulfill the custom of the law for him.

Simon picked up Jesus and held him in his arms, then praised God and said, “My Owner, now I can rest in peace because of what you had told me. I have seen the salvation you prepared in the presence of all the people, a light of revelation to the nations and honor to your people Israel.” These things spoken about Jesus took his father and mother by surprise. Then Simon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “Be aware that this little one is set to cause the rise and downfall of many in Israel, and to be a controversial sign. But a sword will be thrust through your soul, and the thoughts in many minds will be exposed.”

Now there was another prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was well-advanced in age, having lived with her husband for seven years of their marriage and then being a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple compound; night and day she offered impassioned prayer and divine service. At that very day and hour she came up to them and praised God, and she spoke about Jesus to all those who were expecting the redemption of Jerusalem.

After they had fulfilled everything according to the requirements of the law of the Master, they returned to Galilee, to their home town of Nazareth.

Herod and the officals from the east

In the days of King Herod, official advisors came to Jerusalem from the east. They asked, “Where is the one born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” This disturbed not only King Herod but all of Jerusalem as well. So he summoned all the religious scholars to determine where the Anointed One was to be born. And they told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea. This is how it’s written through the prophet: ‘You, Bethlehem, are not at all the least significant among the governors of Judah! For out of you will come a leader who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Afterwards, Herod consulted privately with the official advisors to determine the precise time when the star appeared. Then he sent them into Bethlehem with these instructions: “Go and search carefully for the little one, and if you find him, tell me so that I can come and worship him.” Upon hearing this from the king they went off, when suddenly the star they had seen in the east appeared! They were extremely happy to see the star, which went ahead of them until it came to a stop above the little one’s location.

Now when they arrived at the house they saw the little one with his mother Mary. They dropped down and worshiped him, and they presented him with gifts such as gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, so they took another route to their homeland.

Later that night an angel of the Master suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Wake up! Take the little one and his mother and run away to Egypt. Stay there until I talk to you again, because Herod intends to kill the child.” So he woke up and took the child and his mother away that very night to Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died. This fulfilled what the Master had said through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod realized that the official advisors had made him look like a fool, he was extremely furious. So he had all the children in Bethlehem killed if they were two years old or younger, according to the precise time he had learned from the official advisors. Then the writing of the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A sound is heard in Ramah, of wailing and deep grief. Rachel is sobbing for her children, and she cannot be consoled, for they are dead and gone.”

Jesus’ childhood

After Herod died, an angel of the Master appeared to Joseph in a dream while he was still in Egypt. He told him, “Wake up! Take the little one and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were out to take the child’s life are dead.” So he woke up and took the little one and his mother to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod to rule in Judea, he was afraid to go there. After another divine warning in another dream, he went into the province of Galilee. He settled in the city of Nazareth in fulfillment of the announcement of the prophet, “He will be called a Nazarene.”

Then the little one grew strong and became very wise, and the favor of God was upon him. His parents took him to Jerusalem for the Passover festival each year. When he was twelve years old they went up to Jerusalem for the traditional festival as usual. When it was over they returned home, but they were unaware that the boy Jesus had stayed behind in Jerusalem. They presumed he was somewhere among their travelling companions, but after a day’s travel they began to search for him among their friends and relatives. When they couldn’t find him they went back to Jerusalem to keep searching.

It was three days later when they found him. He was sitting among the teachers, listening and asking them questions, and impressing everyone who heard him with his intelligent responses. His parents were dumbfounded! But his mother demanded, “Child, look at what you’ve done to us! Your father and I have been searching frantically for you!”

“Why were you looking for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I had to attend to my Father’s affairs?” But they had no idea what he was talking about. Then he went with them to Nazareth and supported them. His mother carefully noted everything that was said and kept it in mind. Jesus advanced in wisdom and maturity, earning the favor of God and people.

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