ZECHARIAH AND ELIZABETH
Once upon a time in the days when Herod was king in a land on the other side of the world long long ago a wonderful thing happened and I am going to tell you the story.
Now even though I began with “once upon a time” it is a true story and I know that it is true cause two of my best friends wrote it down so I could read it and tell it to you. Now there will be prize for the person who can tell me who told me the story.
Now it is the most wonderful story in the world. My grandmother used to tell it to me. She was a big soft lady. She had big you-know-whats and you could snuggle into her and feel like you were in a big warm eiderdown and she would tell us this story. An eiderdown is like an old fashioned donah only much softer and warmer and snugglier.
Well in the days when Herod was king of Judea there was a certain priest named Zechariah who was a special priest. His dad had been a priest like him and his wife Elizabeth’s dad was too. They lived near Jerusalem somewhere and every so often when it was his turn Zechariah would go to the big temple and do his job and then he would go home and tend his fields and his animals. He and Elizabeth had a good life cause they lived like God asked them too obeying God’s law and doing their work.
But they had one great sadness. Can you tell me what it was? They had no kids. Now kids bring a lot of problems to parents but they are the most special and wonderful gift God can give us cause they bring so much love from God with them when they come.
Well this problem was much worse then than it is now. The people in those days thought that if a woman couldn’t have children that she had done something wrong and so God had cursed her and so they gave her a bad time. That was really mean wasn’t it cause we know it was not her fault and it is so unkind being mean to other people isn’t it? Do you hate it when people are mean to you? I do too. Well we can stop that happening if we refuse to be mean to others can’t we?
Well Elizabeth was also getting old so she knew that there was very little chance that she would have a kid at all. So she was doubly sad.
Well one day Zechariah went up to work at Jerusalem and was gone a couple of days as usual. When he came back he couldn’t speak. That was so amazing. There was nothing wrong with him when he left. He had to tell Elizabeth what had happened with sign language and writing it down.
Enter Zach and Eliz
Oh hello Zach. What happened?
Z makes the sign that he walked up to Jerusalem to the temple and was doing his incense stuff (smelling, wafting up in the air) when the angel appears
Can you help me work out what he is saying? You went up to the temple as normal and doing your thing with the incense and an angel appeared? !!!! What happened? What did he say?
Z shows fear, falls back, covers his face? Hopefully the kids and I will try to guess what is happening. Zech pretends to write. I read it about the angel.
Elizabeth is nodding along all the time. I told you so sort of stuff.
Don’t be afraid Zechariah cause God has heard your prayers. Your wife Elizabeth (Z points to E. She nods) will have a baby boy and you will call him John. He will bring you and many other people great happiness cause he is going to be a really important man to God. He won’t drink alcohol and will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his birth. (Z & E look really confused).
What does that mean? That is a bit weird. And John!! Why call him John? That is weird. Your family has been Zechariah’s since David’s time
Many of the sons of Israel will he turn to the Lord cause he will go out in the power of Elijah (Everyone shows great surprise and excitement) Wow God’s people have been waiting for that for hundreds of years!!!! This is amazing!!! He will have a big effect on many people and they will turn to God and make a special people the Lord.
You’re joking!!! I don’t believe you!!!! (Z and E nod furiously)
What happened next? (Z writes furiously and hands it to me)
You didn’t believe him? I don’t blame you. You asked him for proof? That’s fair enough. I mean look at you!!!!
(Z writes again)
He struck you dumb. Wow!!! No. I don’t believe it? Gabriel? No. It is not true!!!! (Z & E nod again) What did he say?
I am Gabriel!!! Who stands in the presence of the Lord!!!!! And I was sent to speak to YOU and announce this good news. Look you will be dumb and unable to speak until all these things have happened because you didn’t believe.
Well I guess you did see an angel. (Z looks a bit ashamed)
How long did all this take? (Z stretches arm to show a long time. Acts out people getting worried. Then comes out and shows them he is dumb.)
I bet they were all worried about you cause it took so long. Well that is understandable cause people have died who went into the holy of holies and approached God and were not righteous in His sight. It is pretty scary going that close to God if you are not sure you are righteous. Aren’t we lucky that we have Jesus who is our High Priest?
So what happened then (Z signals that he bolted home)
E: I couldn’t believe what Gabriel had said. I wondered if the old man had developed dementia but he couldn’t talk and that was a real blessing so I had to believe it. Then… well… (Gets all coy and shy….)
Well I couldn’t believe it at first. Thought there was something wrong so I stayed at home for five months. Then I knew it was going to happen!!! After all these years and prayers God had heard us and …….. (She stands up and shows her big tummy)
We are going to have our own boy!!!!!!!!
But Elizabeth you are so … old. How can this be? Woman don’t have babies when they as … old .. as you…..
E: I know. But nothing is ever impossible with God
They both exit.
Well I am staggered. Isn’t that wonderful? Fancy Elizabeth who is so old having a baby. Do you think it will be a boy? I wonder what they will call it. There have been Zechariah's in the family for hundreds of years. What do you think they should call it? I like Todd. or Cooper… What do you think?
Hey what did the angel say to call him? That is an awful name. It is so old fashioned. No one calls their kids John any more. No. Cooper would be better. It would be too hard to call him John. Brad might be OK.
Guess we will just have to wait and see what they call him. What do you think they should do? What do you think they will do?
What is the thing to remember from the lesson today? We are going to have a memory verse each day and the person who can remember them will get a prize.
“For nothing is ever impossible with God. Luke 1:37
Wow this is an exciting day. Maybe we can find out what Elizabeth and Zechariah called their baby. I reckon it will be Mitchell. That is a good fashionable name eh?
Did anybody work out who told me the story about Elizabeth and Zechariah?
Now you remember that Elizabeth and Zechariah were both really old and Gabriel told Zechariah that they would have a baby boy but Zechariah didn’t believe the angel so couldn’t speak for at least nine months. And Elizabeth did get pregnant didn’t she.
Who can remember the memory verse?
E & Z sitting at the side. E is knitting. Z is reading a scroll with The Bible or “Meaning of Kids’ Names” written on the back
We take up the story with Elizabeth waiting for her baby. She only has a few months to go.
Oh who is this?
Mary rushes in all stressed and goes to E.
E: What is the matter Mary? Why are you so upset?
M: The Angel Gabriel appeared to me!!
Zech jumps up and is really interested.
E: What happened. Tell us quickly.
M: Well I was at home in Nazareth and an angel appeared to me. He said, ”GREETINGS FAVOURED ONE. THE LORD IS WITH YOU.”
I didn’t know what he meant. Why would the Lord favour me? I am just a nobody from Nazareth. I was scared!!
E comforts her and Z nods furiously
M: He said, “HAVE NO FEAR, MARY”.
He knew my name. How would he know my name? He said I HAD FOUND FAVOUR WITH GOD, whatever that means and that I was to have a baby, now, before Joseph and I are married and I’m to CALL HIM J’SHUA.
E & Z show astonishment.
M: He said this baby would be “GREAT AND CALLED SON OF THE HIGHEST AND THE LORD GOD WOULD GIVE HIM THE THRONE OF HIS FATHER DAVID. HE WILL BE KING OVER THE HOUSE OF JACOB FOREVER AND THERE WILL BE NO END TO HIS KINGDOM.!!!!
Is this the Messiah?
It is all too much.
E: What happened next?
M: So I said “ How? I have no husband?”
And he said, “THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL COME UPON ME or something and something about the POWER OF THE HIGHEST. I didn’t really understand what he meant but he said THAT THE BABY WILL BE CALLED THE SON OF GOD.
I think he was trying to help me believe cause he said that you Elizabeth would also have a miracle baby. How can this be true?”
E shows her tummy.
M: He said, “NOTHING IS EVER IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD”. I can see this true now.
E: (Puts her arm around Mary)
Blessed are you among women. And blessed will be this baby!!
I can’t believe that my Lord’s mother should visit me.
Every Jewish young girl has wondered if she might be the one who was the mother of the Messiah and it is you!!!
Mary when you told me your news my baby leapt inside me with joy. You will be blessed because you did believe
Z looks ashamed. E looks at him and rolls her eyes.
You can be sure what has been told to you will happen.
M: This is all too much for me. I am just a nobody in a no place town…… (She thinks) Wow!
FROM NOW ON ALL PEOPLE WILL SAY GOD HAS BLESSED ME. THE LORD IS SO BIG AND POWERFUL. HE CAN KNOCK KINGS OFF THEIR THRONES YET HE LOOKS AFTER THE ORDINARY PEOPLE CAUSE HE IS FULL OF LOVE. HE PROMISED THE MESSIAH TO ABRAHAM AND ALL HIS PEOPLE and now it is actually happening. To me!!! To us!!! Now!!!. Just like He said.
They go and sit down and talk together. Then Mary exits
Well Mary stayed with Elizabeth until just before her baby was born. See Mary couldn’t go home cause in those days people really took God’s law seriously and because Mary was having a baby and she was not married yet the people would be really mean to her. She wasn’t allowed to come to church and people wouldn’t talk to her and some really mean people could hurt her or even kill her. They assumed that she had sinned and had to be punished. So Mary was very brave to agree to have the baby.
Lots of people today have babies before they are married and think that it is not important but God thinks it is very important that you get married first and babies second and so do we.
I am so glad she did cause we wouldn’t have Jesus if she hadn’t, would we? She was a very brave girl and she was no older than Alissa. Some people today make her into a goddess and worship her and bow down to statues of her and pray to her but she was just a girl like you or I was once….but she was a very special girl. God even said so. He called her blessed among women.
So she had big problems like you have sometimes….not the same thing as Mary but that can happen but you can have problems. When Mary found she had something she couldn’t deal with she went to an older friend for help. Mary went to Elizabeth but you guys have Mum and Dad and people in your family and church. Or a teacher. Everyone has problems at times but you can do what Mary did. She trusted God but she also got some help from someone with skin on.
When things are a bit hard for you remember what God said to Mary “Have no fear Mary”. Luke 1:29. That is our memory verse for today.
Oh what is happening here?
Big excitement. Z & E mill about and get excited. In this time E removes the pillow and produces the baby. Big excitement.
Wow, the baby has been born. Oh it’s a boy, just like God said. Oh isn’t he beautiful!!!! What are you going to call him? I like Brad or Cooper. They are nice names. But Zechariah has been in the family for years. Kids what will they call him?
E: His name will be John.
No Zechariah has been in the family for years. He must be Zechariah. Don’t you agree Zechariah. Can’t break a tradition as old as that.
Z writes furiously in big letters. JOHN.
Then he shouts
His name is JOHN. Blessed is the Lord God of Israel for He has looked with favour on His people and finally raised up the promised Messiah. God promised Him to Abraham and told us again through His prophets from ancient times. God is showing us mercy and remembering His Holy Covenant.
Picking up John.
And you little one will be a prophet to the Highest for you will go in advance of the Lord to prepare the way for the Messiah.
And John grew up to be a strong independent man who loved to spend time with God in the wild. He was bit weird cause he wore weird clothes and ate weird stuff but he told the people that Jesus was coming and that they should repent and get ready for their Messiah whom God had promised.
Who can tell me the name we know him as?
Well tomorrow we will see what happens to Mary. Do you think the people will be mean to her or kill her?
You’ll just have to wait and see.
Well, what an exciting story. God has given two ladies some very special gifts. Both were miracles. Eh. Elizabeth was too old to have a baby but she did and Mary was too young really causes he didn’t have a husband yet is also going to have a baby. So what is the first memory verse?
Now remember Mary was pretty scared cause the people in her village would be mean to her and maybe even kill her so she went to an older person who could help her. What is the second memory verse? So God looked after her didn’t He?
Now today we are going to meet another person in the story. Can anyone guess who it might be? Joseph.
Well Joseph was Mary’s betrothed. Does any one know what that means? It is sort of being engaged like when you promise to marry someone and give them one ring. This is my engagement ring. This is the ring which a man gives a lady when they promise to marry each other but are not actually married yet. Later after they have a big service and make promises in front of God and all their friends who are their witnesses they are married. So they have a party to celebrate and then they go and live in the same house and then they have babies…..
Well Mary and Joseph were betrothed or promised to each other but hadn’t had the service and exchanged promises in front of God or had the party and Mary got pregnant. That usually means that the betrothal is over, that she had found another bloke.
Now Joseph was pretty important person in the village not only because he was a carpenter but also because one of his ancestors… that like great great great great grandfather had been King David so that made him special. He was of the Tribe of Judah of the House of David and that was special. Mary was too but somehow it wasn’t so important for a girl. We know that Joseph was a carpenter cause the bible tells us and that made him a bit more special in those days too cause he had his own business and was a skilled man.
He had to work every thing he made by hand with no power saws or routers or jigsaws. It seems he was a pretty kind man too cause even though he was pretty upset about what had happened to Mary, I mean it looked like Mary had cheated on him which was a big surprise but that was what his mates said. In fact everyone in the village was talking about her. He didn’t want the townspeople to be mean to her so he decided to break up on the quiet. He must have loved her eh cause he cared more about her than his pride. I reckon his mates would have given him a bad time about the whole thing.
Well. Mary was away at Elizabeth’s and while he was deciding just what to do guess what happened! An angel appeared to him in a dream. Wow so many angels. I wonder if it was the same one as before. What was his name again? That’s right Gabriel. Well this angel said “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife”. that means go ahead with the wedding ceremony anyhow. “What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” in other words from God.!!!!! Wow!!
Poor Joseph got such a shock!! “She will give birth to a son and He will save His people from their sins”. Now Joseph knew that the Messiah would come from someone in his family but he was still amazed that it would be him. One of the old prophets called Isaiah had said this would happen hundreds of years before and everyone was sort of waiting for it,… a bit like we wait for the kingdom. We know it is going to happen but we don’t know when.
So when Joseph woke up he went and found Mary. I wonder if she was still at Elizabeth’s place and they got married and went to live in Nazareth.
So Joseph had saved Mary from the mean people and even from getting killed. He had also saved Jesus from being killed too so if it wasn’t for Joseph being so brave and doing what God asked him to do rather than what people said then we wouldn’t have Jesus today would we?
So the memory verse today is “He carried out what the angel commanded of the Lord”. Matthew 1:24.
Well that is not the end of what Joseph did. When it was almost time for Jesus to be born the ruler of the land told everyone that they had to go back to the place where their family came from to be counted in a census. We had a census here in August where we had to fill out forms so the government knew all about us especially the number of people in the country. The government brought the forms to the people here but in those days the people had to go back to the home of their ancestors. We think it was the time of Tabernacles cause many people went home to celebrate Tabernacles so that made it easier. Well because Joseph was a descendant of David he had to go back to Bethlehem, which is where David had lived before he, became king.
So poor Mary. She was really big and so uncomfortable and a bit scared cause you always are scared before a baby is born, had to travel for about three days cause it was a long way. We assume she went on a donkey but we don’t really know. Have you ever ridden a donkey? Well they bump!!!! Every step is a bump. Every bump hurts. If it wasn’t a donkey she would have had to walk which would have been worse.
So Joseph took his wife all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem which is about 200K to obey the law of the land. God tells us that we have to submit to the governing authorities and he was a good man.
What Joseph did to help us have a Saviour was terribly important. He looked after Mary and fulfilled the legal aspects of her life. He gave Jesus a legal position in his family and town so that when he was growing up Jesus would have been able to have a normal life, have friends, and go to school and church. He couldn’t have been the Messiah if he hadn’t been able to read and learn the Scriptures etc so this was really important. Not only that he would have taught Jesus how to be a carpenter too. The stories from the old times that aren’t in the Bible tell us that Jesus was especially good at making yokes for the cattle that pulled the carts. This was a really hard job cause it had to be balanced and it had to fit comfortably on the oxen. He later told us that His yoke was easy making our burdens light. I wonder when Jesus was sawing those heavy timbers did he know or think about what they would mean in His life later when He would be nailed to a big lump of wood. I wonder if every time He hammered in a nail if He though about what He had to do later.
Some people think that Joseph is an unimportant person cause he didn’t do anything famous. Well he wasn’t but what he did was. He took care of the day to day things that make life happen. Never forget that people who make sure the boring, ordinary things in life are taken care of are probably more important that those who seek only the fun things. Fun things can’t happen if the boring things don’t get done
I wonder what will happen when they get to Bethlehem.
Ok well who can remember where we got up to in the story? Yes . It is a lovely story isn’t it?
OK Memory verses. We have three now….
Now the last thing we talked about was that Joseph was a pretty boring person. He only gets to see one angel and then only in a dream and then he does all the boring things like going to work and paying the bills etc, Mary and Jesus get to be the centre of the attention but not many people fuss over Joseph. . But what did we learn about people who do the boring jobs? Like Mums who go to work AND cook the meals and Dads who go to work and drive you to soccer and stuff. Yes these things are much more important than the fun things cause if these things don’t happen then there can be no fun things eh? So always remember to say thank you to people who do these boring things for you. And when it is your turn to boring things make them into fun things.
OK. When we left Mary and Joseph they were on their way to Bethlehem. We think they went on a donkey but we don’t know that for sure. It was a long way and the roads were rough and dangerous and Mary was very uncomfortable cause the baby so big in her tummy cause it was ready to be born.
Well at long last they finally reached Bethlehem. We think it was at night cause they went to an inn to go to bed. An inn was like a motel except that they didn’t have a car park. They had a stable where they used to tie up the horse and donkeys that the people had travelled on. I mean they would wander off in the night if they weren’t tied up wouldn’t they… Not like your car. And they had to feed them too. A bit like putting petrol in the car. So you can imagine there would have been lots of sweaty animals and after animals have eaten they do… you know what… and that just falls on the floor and it smells….Yuck. So it wasn’t a very nice place.
So Mary and Joseph came to the Inn. It looked so warm and friendly. They could smell the food cooking and could hear people inside laughing and plates clattering and Mary was just so tired. Joseph’s mouth began to water as he thought of the warm lamb stew and bread he would have for tea.
Joseph knocks on the door and waits. He knocks again.
Mary was getting a bit anxious and her tummy was hurting.
Joseph gave her a pat.
The door opens.
Innkeeper: “Mate. We got no rooms left. They’re all gone. Sorry”
Slams the door. Mary starts to cry. Holds her tummy as it is really hurting.
Joseph knocks again. He is anxious
Innkeeper: “I told ya mate. We got no rooms. I’m chockers.”
(Goes to close the door.)
Joseph: Please my wife is about to have a baby. Can’t you find us something?
Innkeeper: (Scratching his chin). Give the stable a go mate if ya like. Bit smelly but it’s all I got.
So Mary and Joseph went out to the stable to try to find somewhere to sleep. It really wasn’t as bad a it seems because they used to put straw on the floor to catch the you know what and there were in a probably big piles of clean straw corner so they could snuggle down into that. They both probably had cloaks to keep them warm to cover the straw and there would have been water in big cisterns to give to the animals but there was no hot cup of tea when she arrived or a hot shower or electric blanket and it was probably a bit chilly but not cold.
Well Mary had her baby all alone. Usually they had special ladies called midwives who helped women have their babies cause it is really hard and lots of babies died in those days. This was Mary’s first baby and she wouldn’t have known what to do so it was REALLY scary.
I bet poor old Joseph was really happy about it all too. Even in our days the men used to vanish if a baby was to be born. They used to go to the pub or something to “wet the baby’s head”. It is only this generation of men who are actually there at the births. So Joseph was one caring new age man.
Mary and Joseph seated with the baby.
Oh! Look!!! The baby has been born. A little boy just like God had said and Mary wrapped him in ‘Swaddling clothes”. Do you know what that is? It is a sheet and they wrapped the babies up really tight so they still think they are inside their Mummies and feel comfortable and safe. Like this… and they can carry them without prams and bassinettes like we need to have.
Now this was really important to God that His special baby was wrapped in swaddling clothes because it told the world that the baby was very precious. See in those days some people, if they didn’t want their babies would leave them in the street not wrapped up. That was a sign to other people that the baby had been abandoned and that no one wanted them so other people could pick them up and take them home if they wanted a baby. Otherwise the baby died. Now Jesus was God’s only son and He was really precious to God and God was lending Him to us for a short time. So God was really adamant that the baby was swaddled so that everyone knew how precious He was. God tells us twice in the Bible about this swaddling. Once when Mary actually did it and then the angel that came to the shepherds … but that is later. said that it was a sign for them so they knew how precious He was to God. Now when God says something twice it is important. Big time. So you had better sit up and listen.
Do you think you guys would have been wrapped in saddling clothes if you had been born then? I think so.
Now what do you think they named him? I thought it might be Brett. Or Noah. Or Jake. Or Harley? Oh Jesus. Well actually they called Him Joshua but we know Him as Jesus.
Now I want you to think about something. Joseph’s family came from Bethlehem. It was his home. He must have had cousins or family living there. Maybe just second cousins but he probably would have known people there. Why didn’t they stay with them? Maybe it was because they wouldn’t let them cause Mary got pregnant before she was married. It was a big thing in those days and God still thinks it is important even if the world today doesn’t. We do too. Maybe they were going to stay with Elizabeth and Zechariah cause they lived somewhere in “the hill country of Judah” Maybe they just didn’t make it cause the baby was so close.
Now the Bible tells us that one day Jesus will come to each of you and stand at the door of your heart and knock. That is the Memory verse today. Rev 3:20 “Lo I stand at the door and knock. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door I will come in”. You will know in your inside when He knocks at the door of your heart and so be ready to open the door to Him. You can say no and He will go away. He will try a couple of times but if you say no He will go away and you can miss out. I know people who have said no lots of times and never got to let Him in before they died.
When Jesus knocks He is like a bald man with a big beard. You need to grab the beard when he knocks cause if he turns and walks away you will have nothing to grab onto and you may miss out.
So if Jesus knocks on the door of your heart ask Him in and he will come in and share you life and help you in EVERYTHING!!!!! And he will make sure that you are in the first resurrection and can live when Him when the Kingdom come
Well who is enjoying our story etc? Memory verse.
Where did we get up to? Yes the baby had just been born. Who can guess what the story will be about today? OK lets see if you are right.
Well, Mary and Joseph and Jesus were resting in the stable. It was dry and warm from the bodies of the animals but it did smell a bit but it was it was a nice sort of natural smell. They were sooo tired they hardly noticed.
Out in the town no one knew just what an important thing had happened. They were all asleep or drinking at the inn or playing cards with their friends cause there was no TV in those days.
Out on the hillside there were shepherds watching their flocks. They were wrapped up in their travelling cloaks too. Most were asleep but there would have been one or two who were “on watch”. What does that mean? They were watching for danger while the others slept so they could warn them if there was a problem. King David used to be a shepherd and he wrote a lot of his poems during this time when he was a shepherd and had very little to do except just watch. Who can tell me the name of his poems?
Shepherds enter. They appear to be looking for something
Hey what are you guys doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be out on the hills looking after your sheep?
First Shepherd: We were but the most amazing thing just happened and we had to come and see if it was true.
What happened? To the kids. I bet we know eh?
Second Shepherd: Well, we were watching our sheep when suddenly an angel standing in front of us. We got an awful shock cause we just didn’t see him coming and they were supposed to be “on watch”.
Well not only was there the angel then but a weird thing happened. It was like a big light or something. It sort of felt warm or “powerful” or electric or something but I can’t explain it. It was just amazing. I guess it was the Glory of the Lord that they talk about at synagogue that we felt.
Was like the aurora australis or the aurora borealis? That is when the whole sky fills with wonderful lights of many colours.
First Shepherd: Well a bit like that but bigger. Well, you can imagine we were sacred!!!!!
I would have been!!!! So what did the angel say?
Second Shepherd: “Have no fear.”
Yeah right!!!! Say have we heard that before kids? Who said that to before?
Second Shepherd: Well when things had settled down a bit the angel said “Behold I announce to you good news of great joy that will be for you and for all people, for today there was born for you in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord”
First Shepherd: It just doesn’t make sense. I mean the Saviour, The Messiah could He really come in our time? We know He was to come to Bethlehem cause this is the City of David but we didn’t think we would see Him. We’re were only shepherds.
Second Shepherd: Then the angel said “This is the token for you”. “You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger". What is a token?
A token is a little bit you get in advance so you know what to expect, like a voucher or a down payment. It is to show someone is fair dinkum. God knew you were just simple folk who hadn’t been to school and just lived out on the hills mainly and that you would have trouble believing such a big thing so the angel gave you a “sign” to help you believe. God still does that today but that is another story.
Hey did the angel really say swaddling clothes? That is amazing. He had told us that bit before eh? Someone must care for this baby.
First Shepherd: But why would it be in a stable? It doesn’t make sense. I mean that is ridiculous. This baby is supposed to be a king and of David’s royal line and the Messiah who comes straight from God. He wouldn’t be in a manger. That is just stupid. Maybe there was something wrong with those mushrooms we had for tea.
Second Shepherd: Then the whole sky was filled with angels and light and music and the most amazing feeling of power. … Well next thing all the angels and seraphim and cherubim and whatever else they have up there, they all came and sang over Bethlehem. They sang praise to God.
So this was one really big deal if the whole heavenly host came to sing about it. This was the most important night in the history of the world.
They sang “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people in His favour”.
First Shepherd: Well after all the heavenly host had finished their song they just sort of melted back into heaven and we were left gobsmacked!!!!! We couldn’t believe it had happened.
Second Shepherd: Then one of us said “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened that the Lord has made known to us.”
First Shepherd: So we bolted down the hill and up the road to the town and ……oh look!!!
They see Mary and Joseph and the baby in His swaddling clothes. Go over to the baby.
Shepherds: Wow look at that. And look swaddling clothes and all. Just as the angel said
That is the memory verse for today. Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people in his favour.
Some people say that they said Peace to men on earth but that is not so. You can’t have true peace unless you are in God’s favour. You get to be in God’s favour by inviting Jesus into your heart like we talked about yesterday and then you have to stay there by living the way He asks us to. That is our memory verse to day.
Shepherds talk to Mary and Joseph.
Well some people think they gave Him gifts of a little lamb but the Bible doesn’t tell us that. I bet Mary got a shock when these untidy smelling shepherds arrived at the door all excited to see her baby. How did they know she would have wondered? Can you imagine how she must have felt when they told her what had happened? I bet she was so relieved cause the shepherds telling her this proved that she had been right about what Gabriel had told her and Joseph and that they had done what God asked them to do. It was a token for her too. The Bible says “She treasured these reports in her heart “. She later told all this to friend of mine who told me this story all about what happened.
Well what did the shepherds do after that? They went out and told EVERYONE what had happened.
Shepherd walk through the congregation telling them about the birth of the baby.
I guess some of the people in the town would have seen the heavenly host and some would have heard them singing and come outside to see what was happening but the shepherds told everyone they met the wonderful message about Jesus. They went back to their work praising God cause He had shown that He was trustworthy by doing what he said He would do.
So you guys need to be like the shepherds. God can knock on the doors of your hearts. You need to listen to what is said to you and then go and find out for yourself like the Shepherds did. It is not all up to God or Mum and Dad. You have to do something as well. You have to open the door and seek Him too. Then you have to tell everyone about the wonderful news of peace to people who follow God’s way.
Ok so is this an exciting story or is it an exciting story. Already we have seen it includes old people, who were they? Yes and a young girl? Who was she? And a man? Who was he? And a shopkeeper? Who was he? And some really ordinary people? Who were they?
Well today and tomorrow our story is about very clever and important people. Who can guess who we are talking about today? What about tomorrow? Now that one is hard. And today I am going to leave part of the story out. See if you can notice which part.
Well our story today is about some men who were very wealthy and extremely intelligent and they were foreigners. See God can deal with ALL sorts of people. What is a foreigner? Yes someone who comes from another country and usually a different culture from ours. Now some people call them wise men but the Bible calls them Magi and we are not really sure what that means. Some people think it relates to magic and that these men were like magicians but I don’t think so. Most people just call them Wise Men because they were more like the scientists of our day. They spent their time finding out stuff.
Now we don’t know exactly where they came from but the Bible says they were “from the east”. Now that could be anywhere from Jordan to China but in those days “from the east” meant somewhere around Babylon and the Babylonians used to come and attack God’s people all the time so they were their enemies. Do you remember Daniel the boy who stood up to the king about eating unclean meat? And what about his mates who got chucked into the furnace because they stood up for God as well and would not bow down to other gods? Well that happened in Babylon a couple of hundred years before our story. Well there were Magi or wise men in the court who advised the king of Babylon then cause the Bible tells us that they couldn’t interpret the King’s dream. Well our wise men were probably the same sort of people. They were a bit like the scientists or government experts of today. They knew lots about stars and constellations and the seasons etc but they used the stars to predict the future for individuals which our God isn’t happy about. Well did you know that the stars and the constellations tell about God’s plan for the whole world? Well it does but that is another story.
Now Daniel was a captive for his whole life in Babylon. We know that he told the king and the Magi of that time about the one true God cause he was thrown into the lions’ den for it. He told them about the coming Messiah when he interpreted the King’s dream about the statue of gold, silver, iron and clay and about the stone that was cut without human hands. Well that is the Messiah, Jesus. God told Isaiah who lived in Jerusalem which was part of this kingdom then, that 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Ezekiel was also in Babylon sort of about the same time so the wise men of Babylon hundreds of years before our wise men would have heard about the promised Messiah, the King who would save the world. They may not have been part of His people or even believed in Him but they would have known about Him.
Wise men progress from the back of the hall. Set regal and aloof demeanour.
Well look who is here. Who are you?
First Magus: We are Magi from the east. We are seeking the newborn king of the Jews
Well we know where He is, don’t we kids. We know something they don’t!!
How did you find your way here?
2nd Magus: We saw His star in the east and we have come to worship Him
How did you know it was His star?
First Magus: We knew about Him from our forefathers and that The Messiah was to be the King of the Jews. We had a few troubles along the way but His star led us here to this house.
Fourth Magus: We rejoice greatly because the star has finally stopped over this place. Do you know where the child is?
How did the star lead you?
First Magus: It is not for you to know all things.
I thought there were supposed to be just three of you.
First Magus: You must not always believe what you see. Seek the truth from God rather than what men say. We bear three gifts but there are many of us.
Gifts? Who for?
First Magus: We bring the gifts for new king. I carry Gold as befits His kingly status as He is of the line of the great King David and will one day rule a kingdom that will cover the whole world. Your Prophet Isaiah said in your Scriptures that we should bring gold to Him.
Second Magus: Your Prophet Isaiah also said the gentiles would bring Him frankincense, as He is to be a Great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek and sit at the right hand of God.
Third Magus: I bring Him myrrh, as He will die to save His people from their sins. He will be a once for all sacrifice.
How do you know all that?
First Magus: It is written. Now if you will excuse us.
They go over to where Mary and Joseph are sitting.
The Bible says they found the CHILD in a house and maybe Jesus was a bit older by now. So that means the family was not at the stable any more. So the pictures we see of shepherds and wise men at the stable are wrong. I think they may have been staying at Elizabeth and Zechariah’s house but we don’t know.
Well the wise men went into the house and saw the child and His mother.
Wise men bow down in eastern style to “Holy Family”… sorry just stirring!!!
Can you imagine how she felt when these really important and rich people just sort of walked in while she was cleaning the sink? Well they bowed down and worshipped him. None of this lower your head like we do when we pray. They got right into it and touched their foreheads on the floor. They knew who He was. They gave him the gifts they had brought.
Wise men come back to me. Mary and Joseph lie down to sleep.
First Magus: We are now returning to our land. We have been warned in a dream not to go back by the same route we came. There is much danger in this place.
Wise men leave. Walk back up the hall
Joseph and Mary are quickly packing up their stuff. They come over to me.
Joseph: Last night I had a dream and the angel appeared to me again. We have to leave immediately and go to Egypt. We have to go now, even though it is the middle of the night. Those wise men were right!!!
Come Mary I know it is a long way but we must go.
(Mary pulls back) Now!
Mary: For how long?
Joseph: I don’t know. Until God tells us it is safe to come home.
Come my dear. We will be OK. We must have no fear and trust God.
Mary: Well I guess we knew the Messiah had to come out of Egypt as well as Bethlehem. Now I can see what God is doing. Isn’t His Word just so cool? You can really trust it.
Does anyone know why they have to rush off in the middle of the night? Let’s find out tomorrow.
Memory verse: “Where is the newborn King of the Jews?” Matt 2:2
Well we left out some of the story didn’t we? Can anyone tell me what I left out? Why did God tell them to leave and go to Egypt? Did you think about that? Also how did the wise men know to come to Bethlehem to find Jesus? They only knew that The King of the Jews was to be born in Judea. This is a bit of a detective story eh?
If you were looking for a king, where would you look? Why would they do that? That is logical isn’t it? You would expect a king to be in a palace wouldn’t you?
Herod comes in and sits on his chair.
The king of Judea at that time was an awful man named Herod. He was a pretty awful sort of person. He did a lot of good things like building some wonderful buildings and stopped the problems with Rome but he just killed everyone to do it. He killed his brothers and sisters and one of his sons. He wasn’t very nice.
Well the wise men went to the palace in Jerusalem and asked to see the King.
Wise Men enter and bow heads to the king.
First Magi: “Where is the newborn King of the Jews?”
Wise men freeze frame while Herod thinks
Herod looks worried
Herod: Hey man, I’m the king of the Jews. What are these dudes talking about? How many kings can there be? How come a new king has been born and I don’t know anything about it? What have my kids been doing now? I had better find out where this kid is and suss out the situation.
Second Wise man: “We saw His star in the east and we have come to worship Him”
Herod looks more anxious.
Herod: Worship him. That means they do think it is the Messiah. Messiah. Messiah. Where have I heard that before? Sabbath School lessons!!! I knew I should have listened!!! Where on earth is Messiah supposed to be born? I thought He was supposed to rule. Wasn’t there something about saving people from their sins?
Mate I don’t want to think about that!!!!
Waves the wise men away. Wise men nod to the king and back out.
Do you know where to look for Him? Well when you want to know what God wants to tell you where do you go? Well Herod went to the Bible. That is the best place to find out what God wants, not what some other people say He wants. But Herod didn’t bother to read it himself he called in called his priests and layers and asked them.
Herod calls scribes. They come in silently arguing between themselves
Now these guys spent their whole lives studying the Bible. They knew it backward. They spent years debating whether the Sabbath started at dawn or sunset or if the sheep blood gave them salvation or the faith the person had in the blood. They also debated really important things like if you had to tithe every grain of wheat or just gave a generous guess. They knew everything about the Bible.
They knew this important stuff but had to think for a minute before they remembered where Messiah was to be born. Remember how God always warns you ahead of time so it was written in the Bible.
First Scribe: In Bethlehem in the land of Judah; for so it was written by the prophet Second Scribe: “ And you Bethlehem in the land of Judah are by no means insignificant among Judah’s rulers for out of you a leader will arise who will govern my people Israel”
Now wouldn’t you think they would have rushed off the Bethlehem to meet this Saviour that they had waited for since King David. Well they didn’t. They had another discussion as to whether the manna was sent by God at the evening or the morning. Really important stuff!!!
Scribes leave debating silently
Herod looks pleased with himself.
Herod speaks in a conspiratrial way
Herod: Go and search carefully for the young child and when you have found Him, report to me so that I too may go and worship Him.”
Wise men nod again and back out.
Herod acts out waiting, then he realises that he has been conned and gets angry as I finish.
He was a king; he was running the country so you would think that they could trust him to tell the truth wouldn’t you. Do you think he told the wise men a lie? Do you think he really wanted to worship the baby? Do you think the wise men were onto him? I think so. They had got their information and now knew which city the Messiah would be born. All they had to do was to find it. So what happened next? We know don’t we? Who can tell me? The went to Bethlehem and the star stopped over the stable didn’t it?
He storms off waving his fist
Well he wasn’t very intelligent and it took him a fair bit of time to figure out he had been conned. Well they were wise men weren’t they? They didn’t tell a lie. They were just wise.
Now we don’t even know if Herod knew that baby had been born but I think gossip would have gotten around about what the shepherds saw and the fact that the wise men had come so he got worried. So do you know what he did? He sent a heap of his soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all the baby bays there under two… just to be on the safe side that he didn’t miss the kid. That is a lot of kids. Can you imagine how sad the mothers and fathers were?
Did he get to kill Jesus? No of course not. Why?
So God does look after his own people doesn’t He? What would have happened if Joseph and Mary had not obeyed God and stayed in Bethlehem? It would have been a lot easier for them wouldn’t it? It’s a long hot walk to Egypt and they talk another language there. Too hard. Right. Jesus would have been killed.
Now did Herod go and find Jesus? No he was too selfish and set in his own ways. He died not long after this and it was a terrible death. Worms ate his guts out from INSIDE!!!! He had a chance to find Jesus and live God’s way but he chose the path of the world.
Now did the priests and lawyers go to meet Him? We don’t know. We don’t think they did. They would have been too busy deciding if Ruth was a gentile or not. God gave them the opportunity and they were too preoccupied to notice.
God approaches us all in different ways. The shepherds were poor simple folk who couldn’t read or write but God revealed Himself to them and they responded and went to meet Him. The wise men came from a different culture and were very clever and God revealed His son to them too. They got off their butts and travelled a long way to find Him. God revealed His son to His own people and gave them all the means to find Him but they chose not to. There is no formula as to how God will reveal His Son to people. He meets each one of us where we are.
Remember the Innkeeper who even opened the door to Jesus but wouldn’t give up his comforts to make room in his inn for him.
So when God reveals His Son to you, and He will! There is no doubt about that. I am convinced that everyone gets a chance sometime in their life to meet The Saviour. When that happens to you make sure you answer that call and don’t miss your chance.
Remember the bald old man with a beard.
“For nothing is ever impossible with God. Luke 1:37
“ Have no fear Mary” Luke 1:29.
“He carried out what the angel commanded of the Lord” Matthew 1:24.
“Lo I stand at the door and knock. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door I will come in”. . Rev 3:20
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people in His favour”
Memory verse. Isaiah in 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace
DAY 1 Sabbath
Day 3 Monday
Day 4 Tuesday Innkeeper
Baby is born. I want to make a deal about the swaddling clothes. I will wrap a doll in a swaddling cloth to show how it is done but would it be OK to swaddle your baby for that day as long as “it” is happy with that.
Alissa will just come and sit with the baby in her arms.,… just like the nativity pictures, but with no halo etc.
Day 5 Wednesday Shepherds
Mary just sitting nursing baby.
Day 6 Thursday Wise Men
Mary sitting holding the baby.
Day 7 Friday Herod
Day 8 Finale
Behold God’s dwelling place is among men and He will dwell with them and they shall be His people. Rev 21:3
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