Mary was a beautiful young woman who had been taught to believe in God and in the words of the prophets. One day the Lord sent the angel Gabriel to Mary with this message: “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”
Mary was troubled because she was not sure what the angel meant.
“Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God,” the angel continued.
“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”
Mary was still puzzled and asked the angel how she could possibly have this baby, for she was not yet married.
“With God nothing shall be impossible,” the angel answered. Then he explained that Mary’s child was to be God’s Only Begotten Son.
This was startling news, but because of Mary’s faith and humility, she believed everything the angel told her. Her heart was filled with joy. No other daughter of God had ever been so blessed. In her gentle way Mary replied, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Mary wanted more than anything else to do the will of her Father in Heaven.
Joseph loved Mary and wanted her to be his wife, but when he found she was going to have a baby, he decided to quietly call off their marriage.
However, the angel Gabriel visited Joseph in a dream and said, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”
Joseph understood then and took Mary to be his wife. He was happy that the long-foretold coming of the Savior was at hand and that Mary, whom he loved, was to be the mother of the Savior.
A few months later, in the spring of the year, Caesar Augustus, ruler of the Roman Empire, sent out a decree that every man in the empire must return to the city of his ancestors to pay a tax. Joseph had to go to Bethlehem.
Because Mary was about to have the baby, she was very uncomfortable. The journey was long and hard for her. When she and Joseph reached Bethlehem, things were even worse. The city was so crowded with all the people who had come to pay their taxes that there was not one room left for Mary and Joseph. Every inn was full. Finally, they found shelter in a stable.
While they were staying in the stable, Mary’s baby was born, and they called Him Jesus. Straw was carefully arranged in a manger to make a bed for Him. Tenderly Mary wrapped her tiny Son in swaddling clothes (pieces of cloth for bundling a baby) and put Him in the manger. When she looked at Him, she realized what a miracle He was. She was His mother, and God was His father. Every child is a spirit child of our Heavenly Father, but Jesus was also an earthly child of God. He was the Only Begotten Son of God, and He would be able to do the important work that God had called Him to do in this life.
The night of Jesus’ birth shepherds near Bethlehem were tending their sheep. Suddenly the skies became bright, “and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.” An angel appeared to them, saying, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
As the angel spoke, a multitude of the heavenly host appeared, praising God: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
After the angels left, the shepherds hurried to see this special baby. Just as the angel had said, they found Mary and Joseph in a stable and the Babe lying in a manger. Looking down at the newborn Child, they knew He was indeed the Christ, the One who would be the Savior of all mankind.
“And when they had seen [the Babe], they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” Then the shepherds returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for the wonderful things they had seen and heard. Happiness and joy filled their hearts because they had seen and could testify of the Christ.
The shepherds in Bethlehem were not the only ones who knew of the birth of Jesus. On the other side of the world, where the Nephites and Lamanites lived, Samuel, a Lamanite prophet, had told the Nephites of the signs that would appear when the Son of God was born. He had said that on that glorious occasion there would be a day, a night, and a day of continuous light and that a new star would appear.
Five years later, as Samuel had prophesied, the Nephites saw that it was still light even after the sun had gone down. They also saw a new star in the sky, and they knew that Jesus Christ was born.