Christmas Story
A worshipper places her hands on a painting of Jesus in the Grotto — where Christians believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus — during at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Dec. 23, 2010. Reuters/Ammar Awad

You probably have an idea of the story behind Christmas, but do you know the Christmas story as told by the Bible? According to scripture, Mary lived in the Galilee city of Nazareth and was set to marry Joseph, a carpenter. An angel visited her and told her she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary was startled — after all, she was a virgin.

She questioned the news, and the angel answered that the child would be the son of God, and that God could make happen anything he willed. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel,” Isaiah 7:14 reads.

Joseph was understandably wary of Mary’s story at first, but when an angel visited him in a dream and told him not to be afraid, he abided by the command and took Mary as his wife. According to the Bible, he had no union with her until after she had given birth to Jesus.

News of the birth of Jesus is celebrated in several passages of the Bible. Isaiah 9:6 says: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

When Jesus’ birth was announced by an angel, heavenly beings began to sing the praises of God. Shepherds, too, wished to see the child, and they found Mary, Joseph and the baby in a stable. They began to spread word of the child, according to About Religion.

When the news reached the Roman client leader in Judea, King Herod, he wanted to know of the newborn’s whereabouts. "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him," he told wise men who were close to him. Secretly, however, viewing the child as a threat to his rule, he wanted to kill Jesus.

When the wise men found Jesus and his mother in Bethlehem, they bowed and worshipped him, offering him gifts like gold and incense. An angel warned them of Herod's plans, and they refused to return.