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The Book of Jesus

Chapter One

The New Amsterdam Publishing Company
Copyright © 1997

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The Word

NARRATOR.
In the beginning, was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning and by means of him; all things came into existence. Not one thing came into existence except by means of him. In him was life; and that life was the light of men. And the Light shines in the darkness; and the darkness could not overpower it.

John 1:1-5

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The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

NARRATOR.
In the days of Herod, king of Judaea, there lived a priest named Zechariah. Zechariah, who was a descendant of Aaron, belonged to the division of Abijah; [a section of the priest hood whose duties included serving at the sanctuary of the Lord for a one-week period every six months]. His wife, whose name was Elizabeth, was also a descendant of Aaron. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous before God and carefully followed the commandments and observances of the Lord in their lives. But they never had any children, for Elizabeth was barren and at this time, they were both well along in years.
And it happened that when it was the turn of Zechariah's division to serve at the sanctuary and he was executing his priestly office before God, that it fell to him by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense there. Now at the hour of incense there was a large crowd praying outside the Sanctuary. And it occurred that while Zechariah was in the sanctuary to burn incense, an angel appeared to him there, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw the angel, he was startled and became overcome with fear.
GABRIEL.
Don't be afraid Zechariah, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you are to name him John. You will have joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will not drink any wine or strong drink, for even from his mother's womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will cause many of the sons of Israel to turn back to the Lord their God and he will go before Him with the spirit and the power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers towards their children and the disobedient ones back to the wisdom of the just. This will be done to prepare for the Lord a people fit for him.
ZECHARIAH.
How can I be sure of this? I'm an old man and my wife's old. She's getting well along in her years.
GABRIEL.
I am Gabriel and stand in the presence of God! I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But, because you have not believed my words, which will come true at their appointed time, you will loose your power of speech and not be able to utter a word until the day that all these things are accomplished.
NARRATOR.
Meanwhile, the crowds were waiting outside for Zechariah to appear and they began to wonder why he was staying in the sanctuary for so long. Finally he came out, but was unable to speak to them. From his gestures they realized that he had seen a vision and he remained unable to speak. Zechariah remained at the Temple and completed his tour of duty, after which he returned to his own home. Some time later, Elizabeth his wife became pregnant. Going into seclusion, she kept to herself for five months
ELIZABETH.
The Lord has done this for me. It has pleased him to take away the humiliation I have had by not being able to have children.

Luke 1:5-25

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The Birth of Jesus Foretold

NARRATOR.
In the sixth month [of Elizabeth's pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a virgin named Mary. Now Mary lived in Nazareth, a town in the province of Galilee and was engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. Gabriel went in to her and said:
GABRIEL.
Rejoice, so highly favored! The Lord is with you.
NARRATOR.
Confused and disturbed by Gabriel's greeting she tried to figure out what this all could mean.
GABRIEL.
Don't be frightened Mary, you have found favor with God. You are going to conceive and bear a son whose name you must call Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord will give him the throne of David, his ancestor and he will rule over the House of Jacob forever, his kingdom will never end.
MARY.
But how can this be, I'm a virgin?
GABRIEL.
The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. Because of this, the child will be holy and be called the Son of God.
Also, be aware of the fact that your relative Elizabeth in her old age, has conceived a son. Elizabeth whom people called barren is now in her sixth month of pregnancy, for with God nothing is impossible.
MARY.
I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it happen to me according to your word.
NARRATOR.
And the angel left her.

Luke 1:26-38

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Mary Visits Elizabeth

NARRATOR.
In those days, Mary left Nazareth and went with great haste to a town in the hill country of Judah where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived. Going into Zechariah's house she greeted Elizabeth. Now when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child in her womb leaped. Filled with Holy Spirit Elizabeth gave a loud cry and said:
ELIZABETH.
Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why have I been honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For as soon as your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Blessed is she that believed, for all the things that have been spoken to her by the Lord will come true.
MARY.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my saviour because He has looked upon His lowly handmaid. Yes, from this time forward, all generations will call me blessed. For He that is mighty has done great things for me. Holy is His name, and His mercy is on all those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown the power of His arm. He has scattered the proud of heart. He has pulled down princes from their thrones and has exalted the lowly. The hungry He has filled with good things and the rich He has sent away empty. He has given hope to His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy, as He had spoken to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.
NARRATOR.
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned to her home in Nazareth.

Luke 1:39-56

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The Birth of John the Baptist

NARRATOR.
Elizabeth was now full term and when it was her time, she gave birth to a son. When her neighbors and relations heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her. Now when the baby was eight days old, the neighbors and relatives came to circumcise the child. (This was in keeping with the Law in Leviticus requiring that all males be circumcised on the eighth day. Traditionally, on the eighth day the males were also to be given their name.) Now the relatives and neighbors were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but Elizabeth spoke up:
ELIZABETH.
No, he is to be called John.
RELATIVES.
But there's no one in your family named John.
NARRATOR.
Making hand signs to Zechariah, they inquired what he wanted the child to be named. Asking for a writing tablet, Zechariah wrote: 'His name is John!'
They were all astonished and at that instant, his power of speech returned and he praised God. All their neighbors were filled with awe and said; "What will this child turn out to be?" The whole situation became a topic for discussion throughout the hill country of Judaea. All who heard of it, treasured the events in their hearts. And the hand of the Lord was with him. His father Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit spoke:
ZECHARIAH.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption for his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David. Even as he has spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient times that he would save us from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. The mercy that was promised to our ancestors is accomplished. He remembers his holy contract and the oath he swore to our father Abraham that he would grant us deliverance from our enemies and that we would be able to serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives.
And you child, shall be called the Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare the way for him. To give the knowledge of salvation to his people through the forgiveness of their sins. Through the tender mercy of our God, the dayspring from on high has visited us to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet in the way of peace.
NARRATOR.
And the child grew and became strong in spirit and lived in the wilderness until the day that he openly appeared to Israel.

Luke 1:57-80

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The Genealogy of Jesus According to Matthew

NARRATOR.
The genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, Tamer being their mother,
Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram was the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon was the father of Boaz, Rahab being his mother,
Boaz was the father of Obed, Ruth being his mother,
Obed was the father of Jesse; and Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Azariah,
Azariah was the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah;
and Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.
About that time, the deportation to Babylon took place.
After they were carried away into Babylon:
Jechoniah was the father to Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor was the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud was the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob;
and Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.
So the sum of generations from Abraham to David are fourteen; and from David to the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen; and from the carrying away into Babylon to Christ are fourteen.

Matthew 1:1-17

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Mary and Joseph

NARRATOR.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ occurred in this manner: His mother Mary was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. But before they came to live together, she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, being a just man and not willing to make her a public example, decided to privately divorce her. But while he was considering this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream:
ANGEL.
Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, for he is the one who will save his people from their sins.
NARRATOR.
Now all this took place to fulfill the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet Isaiah: "Listen! The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call his name Immanuel,..." a name which means, God is with us.
When Joseph woke from his sleep he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not have intercourse with her until she had given birth to her firstborn son; and he named him Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25

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The Birth of Jesus and Visit of the Shepherds

NARRATOR.
Now about the time John the Baptist was born; Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, issued a decree for a census of the whole Roman Empire to be taken. This census, which was the first, took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone was required to return to his ancestral home to be registered. So Joseph, who was of David's house and lineage, set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and traveled up to Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, in order to be registered together with Mary, his espoused wife, who was with child and well along in her pregnancy. While they were there, the time came for her child to be born, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in cloth strips and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
In the countryside near Bethlehem were shepherds who were living in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks during the night. And it occurred that the angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said to them:
ANGEL.
Don't be afraid. Listen! I bring you news of great joy, a joy which will be shared by all people. Today in the city of David a saviour has been born to you and he is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
NARRATOR.
And suddenly there with the angel was a great throne of the heavenly host, praising God and saying:
'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth for all men who enjoy his favor.'
Now when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another:
SHEPHERDS.
Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that's happened which the Lord has made known to us.
NARRATOR.
So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When the shepherds had seen the child they made it known all over what they'd been told by the angel concerning Him. Everyone who heard it were astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them over in her heart.
And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told by the angel when they were in the fields.
When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, Mary and Joseph gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived in Mary's womb.

Luke 2:1-21

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Jesus is Presented at the Temple

NARRATOR.
Thirty-three days after Jesus' circumcision, the day came for Mary to be purified as laid down in the Law of Moses. According to that Law in Leviticus, when the period of purification after a woman has had a child was over; [in this case, thirty-three days after the circumcision], she was to bring to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting a lamb, one year old for a holocaust or burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtle dove as a sacrifice for sin. If she could not afford a lamb, she was to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, [one for the holocaust and the other for the sacrifice of sin]. The young couple not being able to afford a lamb, offered the later. Additionally in accordance with what was written in the Law of the Lord, every first born male was to be dedicated to the Lord. Hence, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord and to observe the rites of purification for her.
Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man, and looked forward to Israel's comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took Jesus into his arms, blessed God and said;
SIMEON.
Lord, now you can let your servant die in peace, for just as you promised, I have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see. A light to enlighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.
NARRATOR.
As Mary and Joseph stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother:
SIMEON.
You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising again of many in Israel, a sign which will be rejected. And a sword will pierce your own soul also, so that the secret thoughts of many may be revealed.
NARRATOR.
Also at the Temple was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher and she was quite old. She had been married for seven years from her virginity before becoming a widow. Now eighty-four years old, she never left the Temple and served God night and day with fasting and prayer. Just at that moment she came by and began to praise God and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
And Mary and Joseph completed everything that the Law of the Lord required.

Luke 2:22-39...

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The Visit of the Wisemen

NARRATOR.
Now after Jesus had been born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of King Herod, some wisemen came from the East to Jerusalem.
WISEMEN.
Where is he that is born King of the Jews? We have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.
NARRATOR.
When King Herod heard these things he was deeply troubled and all Jerusalem with him. He called a meeting of the chief priests and the scribes of the people and enquired [demanded] of them where the Christ was to be born.
CHIEF PRIESTS.
In Bethlehem in Judaea, for this is what the prophet Micah wrote:
'And you Bethlehem, in the land of Judaea, you are by no means least among the clans of Judah, for out of you will come a Governor who will shepherd my people Israel.'
NARRATOR.
Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, asked them the time when the star had appeared. When he found out what he wanted to know he sent them to Bethlehem.
HEROD.
Go and find the young child and when you have found him, let me know so that I may also go and worship him.
NARRATOR.
Having heard what the king had to say, they left for Bethlehem. There in front of them was the star they had seen in the East. The star went before them and stood over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with great joy. Going into the house they saw the young child with his mother Mary. Falling down on their knees they worshipped him. Then, opening their treasure, they presented him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But being warned of God in a dream, they did not go back to Herod, but returned to their own country by another way.

Matthew 2:1-12

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The Flight into Egypt and Return to Nazareth

NARRATOR.
When they'd left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.
ANGEL.
Get up and take the child and his mother with you and escape into Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, because Herod will search for the child to destroy him.
NARRATOR.
So Joseph got up, took the young child and his mother and left for Egypt in the night, where he stayed until Herod's death. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet Hosea:
'I called my son out of Egypt.'
Herod was furious when he realized that the wisemen had mocked him. In Bethlehem and its surrounding districts he had all the male children killed who were two years old or under, reckoning the time from the information he had carefully extracted from the wisemen as to when they had first seen the star. It was then that words of the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled:
'In Ramah a voice was heard, wailing, sobbing and great mourning. It was Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforting because they were no more.'
NARRATOR.
After Herod's death, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.
ANGEL.
Get up, take the young child and his mother and go back to the land of Israel, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead.
NARRATOR.
So Joseph got up, took the child and his mother and went back to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Herod's son, Archelaus, had succeeded his father as ruler of Judaea, he was afraid to go there. Being warned in a dream not to go to Judaea, [they] and returned to the region of Galilee. There they settled in their home town of Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled:
'He will be called a Nazarene.'
Meanwhile, the child grew to maturity and was filled with wisdom and God's favor was with him.

Matthew 2:13-23, Luke 2:...39,40

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Jesus Among the Teachers

NARRATOR.
Now every year Mary and Joseph used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. When Jesus was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the feast. When they were on their way home after the feast, the child Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, this without his parents knowing it. They assumed that he was with the caravan. It was only after a day's journey that they went to look for him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they couldn't find him they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.
Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers of Law, listening to them and asking them questions. All those who heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. When Mary and Joseph found him, they didn't know what to think.
MARY.
Son, why have you done this to us? Can't you see how worried your father and I have been looking for you?
JESUS.
Why were you looking for me? Didn't you know that I would be about my Father's business?
NARRATOR.
But they didn't understand what he meant. He then went back with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their subjection. But Mary stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and man.

Luke 2:41-52

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