Provide an overview of Jesus' birth and childhood, comparing and contrasting the accounts of Matthew and Luke. Which account describes visions of angels as the way God warns Joseph and Mary, and which utilizes dreams? Evaluate the genealogies in each. Can they be harmonized? Why or why not?
Matthew and Luke are the only two evangelists to give an account of the birth and childhood of Jesus. While very little is said about His childhood, His birth is covered in some detail in these two accounts.
Matthew deals with this event primarily from the viewpoint of Joseph, the earthly "father" of Jesus Christ. In his account, recorded in Matthew 1:18-15, Joseph was on the point of divorcing his betrothed wife Mary, because she had become pregnant before the marriage was consummated. But Joseph became the recipient of a number of dreams. In the first, an angel from God tells him that Mary's pregnancy was not through adultery, but by the supernatural power of the Holy Ghost. He is instructed to take Mary as his wife, and to name the son she would bear Jesus, because He "shall save His people from their sins." Joseph obeyed these instructions, and took Mary with him to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Matthew further records the visit of the wise men, who came to Jerusalem inquiring after the king of the Jews, whose star they had seen in the east. They find Jesus with his parents at a house in Bethlehem (not in the manger as commonly portrayed), and after giving gifts, are instructed by God to return to their homeland another way without reporting to king Herod. Herod, fearful of a rival to his authority, ordered all the male children 2 years old or younger in Bethlehem to be exterminated. But Joseph was again warned beforehand by God in a dream, and fled with his family into ...
Jesus' birth is assessed from the accounts of Matthew and Luke.