Conception and Birth of Jesus
(7 B.C. to October 5 B.C.)

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Topics covered: The preparation of the Magi, the conception of John the Baptist and Jesus, the birth of John and Christ, the arrival of the Magi in Judea, Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt and Herod the Great's mass murder of children.

Primary scriptures: Matthew 1 - 2, Luke 1 - 3

The Oldest Prophecy

The Bible's first and oldest written prophecy, given directly by God, is found in the opening chapters of Genesis. It alludes to the miraculous birth of Jesus.

The Messiah is prophesied to oppose the devil, overcome his attacks and ultimately seal his eternal fate. The book of Genesis states the following.

And I will put enmity between you (the devil) and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed (an illusion to the virgin birth); He (Jesus) will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel (Genesis 3:15, HBFV).

The birth of man's Savior, more than two thousand years ago, is one of the most pivotal events to have ever occurred in the universe! This appearance of Jesus, sometimes referred to as the Incarnation, is an eternal witness of perfect love. It shows that God's love is so profound that he was willing to make the greatest sacrifice, through the birth of His Son, and take the greatest risk, in order that his greatest creation could live forever with him.

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7 B.C.

Preparation of the Magi

Wise men or Magi "from the east" (Matthew 2:1) begin to see what appears to be a bright star appearing in the sky. They firmly believe that this miraculous beacon will lead them to the "King of the Jews" (Jesus) whose birth they can rejoice over (verse 2).

The Magi, and the large caravan that will accompany them, decide to undertake what will become a 1,000+ mile (1,609+ kilometer) journey. Preparations are begun to transport these important men (and many others) westward in a caravan laden with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

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Mid-May to
Early June 6 B.C.

Conception of John the Baptist

A man named Zacharias begins his work at Jerusalem's temple during the "course of Abijah" (Luke 1:5, 8 - 9), which is the eighth of twenty-four "shifts" priests could serve within (1Chronicles 24:10). Shifts ran from noon on one Sabbath (Saturday) to the next.

The first shift this year runs from March 20 (Nisan 1) to 27, meaning that Zecharias' shift ran from May 15 to 22. Since May 23, however, is Pentecost, and all priests are required to work during the three busy Festival seasons (the other two being Passover and Tabernacles), his time of service lasts until May 29.

While fulfilling his priestly duties, the archangel Gabriel (likely on Pentecost, since John's birth was a major fulfillment of prophecy) visits Zacharias. This powerful angelic being informs him that his barren wife Elizabeth will miraculously bear him a son. This son, to be named John, will be filled with God's spirit from conception and will be raised under the Nazarite vow (Luke 1:5 - 15).

Because Zacharias doubts the veracity of what the angel states, he is rendered unable to speak until the birth of John (Luke 1:18 - 20, 57 - 64). John the Baptist, in early June, is conceived (Luke 1:23 - 24).

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Late November to
Early December 6 B.C.

Conception of Jesus Christ

Gabriel, during Elizabeth's sixth month of pregnancy, is sent to a young virgin named Mary in the city of Nazareth (Luke 1:26 - 27). She is betrothed to a man named Joseph. The archangel informs her that she will miraculously conceive and give birth to (through the power of God) the Savior of mankind (verses 28 - 37)!

Mary, though amazed at what she is told, accepts God's will for her (verse 38) and Jesus is miraculously conceived in her womb. The baby in her womb will possess her bloodline which goes all the way back to King David (Luke 3). Jesus' stepfather Joseph can also trace his lineage back to David (Matthew 1). Mary then leaves Nazareth to spend about three months (Luke 1:39 - 40, 56) with her cousin Elizabeth.

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Late February to
Early March 5 B.C.

John the Baptist Is Born

Mary leaves Elizabeth and travels back to Nazareth (Luke 1:56). Elizabeth then gives birth to John between February 27 and March 11, six months before the arrival of Jesus (Luke 1:26, 36). Zacharias, on the day his son is circumcised, is able to again speak after he writes down that his name should be John (Luke 1:59 - 64).

Joseph soon discovers that his espoused wife Mary is three months pregnant (Matthew 1:18). Although he believes she has committed adultery (punishable by death, see Leviticus 20:10), he considers saving her through a private divorce (Matthew 1:19).

An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him the child in Mary's womb was miraculously created by God. Joseph believes the angel and decides to stay married to Mary. He also chooses not to have sex with her until after the birth of Jesus (verses 20 - 25).

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Late August to
Early September 5 B.C.

Jesus Is Born!

The small city of Bethlehem, when Mary and Joseph arrive in order to pay Roman taxes, is inundated with people (Luke 2:1 - 3). The couple, since all available lodging in the city is taken, must stay in a stable. Jesus is born in this location and laid in a manger (verse 7).

The Lord's birth occurs between August 27 and September 9, with it highly likely occurring (due to its symbolism) on Saturday, September 2. This Saturday is special, in that it is Tishri 1, or the first day of Hebrew civil year 3757. It is also the Biblical holy day known as the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah).

An angel proclaims to shepherds tending their flocks that man's Savior has been born (Luke 2:8 - 11)! He also tells them that the unique location of his birth, along with what he is wrapped in, will be the sign that they have the right child (verse 12).

The shepherds, after countless angels appear in the sky to praise God, travel into Bethlehem to look for Jesus (Luke 2:13 - 16). Jesus, on the eighth day after his birth, is circumcised in obedience to God's law (Leviticus 12:3, Luke 2:21).

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Early October 5 B.C.

Magi Arrive in Jerusalem

The Magi arrive in Jerusalem and are important enough dignitaries to warrant an immediate audience with Herod the Great. Since the star that has led them on their journey has disappeared, they seek any information he can provide regarding the King they are seeking. The size of their caravan, which includes armed soldiers, alarms both Herod and the city (Matthew 2:1 - 3). Herod immediately sets out to gather all the city's chief priests and scribes (verse 4).

Mid-October 5 B.C.

The Magi Meet Jesus

After Mary's forty days of impurity after Jesus' birth are completed (Leviticus 12:1 - 4), she and Joseph travel to Jerusalem so that Jesus can be presented to God in the temple (Luke 2:22 - 24). While at the temple Simeon blesses the family and gives several prophecies (verses 25 - 35). A prophetess named Anna recognizes the Savior and informs others concerning him (verses 36 - 38). After their interactions at the temple the family heads back to Bethlehem.

Herod tersely demands the priests and scribes tell him where the Messiah's birth is to take place (Matthew 2:4). The religious leaders offer him the prophetic quote of the Minor Prophet Micah which also states He who will come to rule will be a member of the Godhead.

And you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, you being least among the thousands of Judah, out of you He shall come forth to Me, that is to become Ruler in Israel. He Whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity (Micah 5:2).

Herod arranges a secret meeting with the Magi and finds out the star they originally saw in the sky appeared two years before their meeting. He also reveals to them that the King they are seeking (Jesus) is in Bethlehem. He then asks that they report directly back to him after they discover the child's exact location (Matthew 2:7 - 8).

The star the Magi saw, which had disappeared, shows up again when they leave Jerusalem! It shines and moves before them (evidence that the star was not a celestial event) such that it leads them directly to a home (not a stable!) where they can what they are seeking (Matthew 2:9 - 11). After discovering where Christ is located, they present their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the family.

The Magi, although they had planned to return to Jerusalem and report what they found to Herod, are warned in a dream not to do so. They take another route back home that bypasses Jerusalem (Matthew 2:12).

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Fleeing Herod's Wrath

Joseph, right after the Magi leave Bethlehem, has a dream where the angel of the Lord warns him about Herod.

Arise and take the little Child and His mother, and escape into Egypt, and remain there until I shall tell you; for Herod is about to seek the little Child to destroy Him (Matthew 2:13).

Joseph, Mary and Jesus immediately leave the city and travel to Egypt (Matthew 2:14). They will end up staying in this foreign land for several months.

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Late October 5 B.C.

Herod Commits Mass Murder!

Herod, falsely believing that the Magi are mocking him by not coming back to Jerusalem after they worship Jesus' birth, flies into a rage. Remembering that they told him they first saw the star two years ago, he orders all male children in Bethlehem (and the surrounding areas!) two years old or younger murdered (Matthew 2:16 - 18). This impulsive act of mass murder fulfills prophecy (Jeremiah 31:15).

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Previous    -    Next

Timeline of Jesus' Life and Ministry
Conception and Birth of Jesus
Christ's Early Life
Baptism and Temptation
The First Miracle at Cana
Jesus Reveals He Is the Messiah
The Sermon on the Mount
Confronting Religious Leaders
Preaching, Parables and Miracles
Miraculously Feeding the Masses
The Transfiguration
Training the Disciples for Evangelism
A Final Visit to Capernaum
The Last Trips Before Crucifixion
Jesus' Last Days, Death, Resurrection
Christ's Ministry after His Resurrection

Series References
AMG Concise Bible Dictionary
Appointed Times of Jesus the Messiah
Barnes' Notes on the New Testament
Bible Knowledge Commentary
Harmony of the Gospels in Modern English
Holy Bible, a Faithful Version
New Manners and Customs