THE INFANCY AND EARLY LIFE OF JESUS
The annunciation is divided into two, i.e.
(i) Annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist.
(ii) Annunciation of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Birth of John the Baptist is announced.
- In the time of Herod king of Judea, there lived a priest called Zechariah from the priestly family of Abijah.
- His wife was called Elizabeth.
- Both were righteous people but were childless and were already advanced in age.
- Zachariah was one day in the temple where he was offering on behalf of the people of God.
- An angel of the Lord appeared to him and stood on the right side of the altar.
- Zachariah was afraid, but the angel reassured him.
- The angel told Zachariah that God had heard his prayer and his wife, Elizabeth would bear a son.
- The angel then revealed the following about John;
- He would be a source of joy to the parents.
- Many people would rejoice at his birth.
- He would be great at the sight of the Lord.
- He was not to take strong drink/ wine/ Nazirite.
- He was to be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb
- Many Israelites would turn to God through him.
- He would have the spirit/ power of Elijah.
- He was to prepare the people for the Lord/ call people to repentance.
- He would turn the fathers’ hearts to children/ bring reconciliation.
- Zachariah expressed doubts regarding the angel’s message asking for proof since he and his wife were old.
- Zachariah was punished for disbelieving the angel’s message/ the angel told him that he would be dumb until the day of John’s birth.
- The congregation outside was wondering why Zachariah was taking too long in the temple.
- Whe he finally came out and could not speak to the, they realized that something divine must have happened to him in the temple.
- Zachariah made signs to them and went home
Lessons Christians learn from the annunciation of the Birth of John the Baptist.
i. Christians should not doubt God’s message.
ii. Should be persistent, faithful and patient in prayer
iii. Couples should be devoted to God.
iv. Christians should call people to repentance as the mission of John the Baptist would be.
Lessons Christians learn from the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth
- Christians should be righteous/ upright/ blameless.
- They should obey God’s commandments / instructions.
- They should persevere/ be patient.
- They should serve God faithfully/ with commitment.
- They should be Prayerful.
- They should depend on God/ ask God for their needs/ have faith in God.
- They should believe God’s word.
- They should thank God for His blessings.
- They should praise/ worship the Lord.
- They should desire to be led by the Holy Spirit.
THE ANNUNCIATION OF JESUS CHRIST’S BIRTH
- In the 6th month, angel Gabriel was sent by God to a young virgin called Mary from the village of Nazareth.
- Mary was engaged to Joseph, a descendant of King David.
- After the angel greeted her he told her that she was highly favoured and the Lord was with her.
- This greeting troubled Mary.
- The angel told her she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit in her womb and bear a son who would be called Jesus.
- Mary humbly consented to God’s plan.
- The angel announced that the child would be:
- He will be great and will be called the son of the most high.
- And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.
- And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever.
- And of his kingdom there will be no end.
- The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will overshadow you.
- The child to be born will be called Holy /the son of God.
- He then informed her that Elizabeth; her relative was in the 6th month of pregnancy and nothing is impossible with God.
- Then Mary declared that she was the handmaid of the Lord.
Similarities between the annunciation of the birth of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist
(i) In both, Angel Gabriel announced their births
(ii) In both, the unborn were males
(iii) In both, the conception was through divine intervention.
(iv) In both, there was some element of doubt.
(v) Zechariah and Mary were Holy and God fearing.
(vi) Zechariah and Mary were both troubled and afraid.
(vii) In both, the children were first borns.
(viii) In both, the names of the children were given by the Angel before birth.
(ix) In both, the mission of the children was given by the angel.
Differences between the annunciations of the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ
- John’s birth was announced in the temple whereas Jesus’ birth was announced to his mother at home.
- The birth of John the Baptist was announced to his father whereas Jesus’ birth was announced to his mother.
- John the Baptist would be born through biological conception whereas Jesus’ birth will be conceived by the Holy Spirit.
- Zechariah doubted the angel’s message due to old age while Mary doubted it because she was a virgin/young woman.
- Zechariah was given the sign of being dumb whereas Mary was given the sign of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.
- The angel announced that John will prepare the way for the coming of the Lord while it was announced that Jesus is Christ the Lord who will rule forever.
MARY VISITS ELIZABETH
The following is what took place when Mary visited Elizabeth;
- She entered Zechariah’s home.
- She greeted Elizabeth.
- When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greetings, the baby in her womb leaped.
- Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Elizabeth exclaimed with a loud cry.
- She blessed Mary and the child in her womb.
- Elizabeth wondered why Mary the mother of her Lord has visited her.
- Elizabeth informed Mary that the baby in her womb had leaped for joy in her greetings.
- Mary responded by praising God/ she sang the magnificat.
- Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months.
Lessons learnt from the incident of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth
- Christians should visit relatives and friends.
- They should visit the sick.They should fellowship/ share the word of God with others.
- Christians should be a source of inspiration/ encourage others.
- They should sing and praise God for His blessings.
- They should preach the good news to others.
- They should give testimonies of God’s great blessings in their lives.
- They should practice humility in their lives.
- They should pray for God’s blessings in their lives.
The differences between the work of John the Baptist and that of Jesus Christ
- John the baptist was a forerunner/ prepared the way wheras Jesus fulfilled/ was the real messiah.
- John the baptist preached mainly in the wilderness/ desert of Judah, while Jesus preached in the synagogues/ homes/cities/ towns/ Temple.
- John the Baptist called people to repentance, while Jesus forgave/ died for their sins.
- John the Baptist baptised with water/ while Jesus baptised with the Holy Spirit/ fire.
- John the baptist lived a life of Nazirite, while Jesus mixed freely with all people.
- The emphasis of John the Baptist’s preaching was on the promised messiah, while that of Jesus was about the Kingdom of God.
- John the Baptist’s message was direct whereas Jesus preached in parables.
- While John the Baptist’s disciples fasted, the disciples of Jesus ate and drunk.
- John the baptist did not perform miracles, but Jesus’ ministry was full of signs/ wonders.
MARY’S SONG: THE MAGNIFICAT
Luke 1:46 – 55
- After the Angel’s visit to Mary, she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth.
- Then Mary sang a song called the magnificat.
- She highlighted the following:
i. Her soul was rejoicing and magnified God for being mindful of the humble.
ii. From then on, all generations would call her blessed.
iii. God had done mighty things for her.
iv. God’s name is holy.
v. His mercy extends to those who fear him.
vi. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm
vii. He has scattered the proud.
viii. He has brought down the mighty from their thrones.
ix. He has exalted the humble.
x. He has filled the hungry with good things.
xi. He has sent the rich away empty.
xii. He has helped his servant Israel, and has been merciful to her even in the time of Abraham.
Lessons Christians learn about God from the magnificat/ Mary’s song.
i. God is almighty/powerful.
ii. God is holy.
iii. God is merciful.
iv. God humbles the proud.
v. God exalts the lowly.
vi. God feeds the hungry/provides.
vii. God is the source of all blessings.
viii. God keeps promises/faithful.
ix. God deserves praise.
THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Luke 1:57 – 80
The following activities took place when John the Baptist was born;
- Elizabeth gave birth to a son.
- The parents of John were filled with joy and friends and relatives came to celebrate.
- On the eigth day, the boy was circumcised in accordance with the Jewish laws and traditions.
- They were going to name him Zechariah after his father in accordance to the Jewish law.
- But Elizabeth stated that the child should be calledJohn, the name given by the angel.
- The people argued, “No one in your family has ever been named John.”
- They motioned to Zechariah to find out what he wanted to name his son.
- Zechariah asked for a writing tablet on which he wrote “His name is John.”
- Everyone was amazed.
- Right away Zechariah began speaking and praising God.
- All the neighbours were frightened because of what had happened and people kept talking about these things.
- Everyone who heard about this wondered what this child would grow up to be and knew that the Lord was with him.
- The Holy Spirit came upon Zechariah.
- He broke into a prophetic hymn; the Benedictus; Latin for blessed.
- Zechariah expressed his feeling of joy, gratitude and praise.
- He told the mission of his son.
In his song, the Benedictus, he said;
- Praise should go to God of Israel for redeeming his people.
- God had raised up a horn of salvation in the house of David.
- This event had been prophesied by the Holy prophets.
- God was going to save them from their enemies and all who hated them.
- He was going to show mercy promised to their fathers.
- He was going to remember his Holy covenant with Abraham to rescue them so that they could serve him without fear and in holiness all their days.
About John he said he would be:
i. Called the prophet of the Most High.
ii. Be the herald of the Messiah.
iii. Call people to repentance in order to bring back human beings to the right relationship with God.
iv. Bring peace to men by showing them the messiah/ light of the world.
v. He would give people personal ‘knowledge’ of their desperate need for salvation.
Similarities between the Magnificat and the Benedictus
i. Both were songs of praises.
ii. Both use Old Testament phrases.
iii. Both share thematic and structural features.
iv. Both were recited by people whom Angel Gabriel had been sent to.
v. Both songs result from the news about the birth of baby boys.
vi. Both are poetic.
vii. Both songs talk about the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies.
Ways in which Christians should respond to childlessness in Kenya today
- Pray to God to bless their marriage with a child.
- Seek guidance and counselling on the issue and read the Bible for encouragement.
- Seek medical advice about it.
- The couple is exhorted to remain faithful inspite of the problem and accept it as God’s will
- They should remain patient or be less anxious.
- They should also seek advice from experienced couples with children.
- Continue to uphold the church doctrine on marriage.
- They may adopt children or engage in charitable activities.
THE BIRTH OF JESUS
Luke 2:1 – 20
- Took place in Bethlehem, Judea during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar.
- A census had been ordered by the emperor to determine the payment of taxes and those eligible for military recruitment.
- Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem; David’s and Joseph’s birthplace to be counted from their original home.
- Jesus was born in David’s town.
- He is David’s son and the promised Messiah. He must be born in a David’s city to fulfill Micah’s prophesy.
- While in Bethlehem, Mary’s time to have her child came.
- There was no available place to rest for all the rooms were booked.
- The baby was born in a stable. Mary wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.
- The shepherd’s were the first people to be told the good news about Jesus Christ.
The visit of the Angel of the Lord to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born
- The shepherds were looking after their flocks in the field at night.
- The Angel appeared to them.
- The glory of the Lord shone around them.
- They were filled with fear.
- The Angel reassured them.
- The angels told them about the good news about the birth of Jesus.
- They were told where to find baby Jesus.
- The angel gave them a sign on how to they would find Jesus.
- There appeared a host of other angels singing/ praising God.
- The angels left them/ went back to heaven.
- The shepherds went to Bethlehem/ found Jesus.
Occasions when angels appeared during the annunciation of Jesus Christ and John
i. Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary during the annunciation of the birth of Jesus Christ.
ii. Angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah when he was burning incense in the temple to announce John the Baptist’s birth.
iii. Angel of the lord appeared to the shepherds bringing them the news about Jesus Christ.
iv. A multitude of angels appeared singing praises to God during Jesus Christ’s birth.
ACTIVITIES THAT TOOK PLACE WHEN JESUS CHRIST WAS BORN
Luke 2:6 – 20
i. Mary the mother of Jesus wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.
ii. She laid Him in a manger.
iii. The angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds.
iv. A multitude of angels appeared singing praises to God.
v. The shepherds hurried to see the baby.
vi. The shepherds spread the news to many people.
vii. The shepherds sung/ praised God after they had seen the baby Jesus.
viii. The shepherds returned to their home/work.
Ways in which Christians in Kenya express their joy for the birth of Jesus.
- They sing or listen to Christian songs and carols.
- They attend Christmas worship service or mass.
- They partake of the Holy Communion or Eucharist.
- They exchange gifts and cards of goodwill.
- They visit friends, relatives or invite them to their homes.
- They decorate their homes or churches during Christmass.
- They buy and wear new clothes during the Christmass season.
- They also prepare special dishes and serve drinks during Christmass.
- Christians take rest from their normal duties to celebrate Christmass.
- Some hold Christmass concerts and drama.
- Tey watch movies or films that relate the birth of Jesus.
- They read christmass stories from the Bible.
- They help the needy or engage themselves in acts of charity.
- They repent and dedicate themselves to God.
THE DEDICATION OF JESUS
Luke 2:21 – 40
The following activities took place during the dedication of Jesus in the Temple;
- Jesus was taken to Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord by His parents.
- Simeon took Jesus up in his arms/ blessed the Lord.
- Simeon said he was ready to die since he had seen God’s salvation/ a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of the Israelites.
- Simeon blessed the parents of Jesus.
- Simeon told Mary, Jesus’ mother that the child was set for the fall and rising of many in Israel.
- Anna gave thanks/ prayed/ spoke of Jesus to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
- The parents of Jesus performed everything according to the law of the Lord.
- Jesus parents returned home.
THE BOY JESUS AT THE TEMPLE
Luke 2:41 – 52
The following are the activities that took place from the incident when Jesus was left behind by His parents in the Temple when He was twelve years old;
- When Jesus was twelve years old, He accompanied His parents to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover feast.
- They went to Jerusalem as demanded by custom.
- As they returned back after the festival, boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.
- His parents did not know it, but supposing Him to be in the company, they went a day’s journey.
- They looked for Him among His relatives and friends.
- When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him.
- After three days they found him in the Temple sitting among teachers, listening to them and asking the questions.
- All who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and answers.
- When the parents saw Him they were astonished and His mother said to Him, “Son why have you treated us like so? Behold your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.’
- And He said to them “How was it that you sought for me? Did you not know that I must be in my father’s house?”
- They did not understand Him.
- He went down with them and came to Nazareth.
Jewish traditions fulfilled in Jesus life.
i. Circumcised on the 8th day.
ii. Named Jesus.
iii. His mother was purified after his birth.
iv. Dedicated / presented to God in the temple.
v. Parents offered a sacrifice of a pair of turtle doves/two young pigeons.
vi. Obeyed his parents.
vii. Celebrated the Passover festival at age 12.
Qualities shown by Jesus when He accompanied His parents to the Temple at the age of twelve
- He was obedient.
- He was courageous.
- He was knowledgeable/ intelligent/ wise.
- He was respectful.
- He was cooperative.
- He was patient.
- He was honest.
- He was assertive/ independent/ making independent decisions.
- He was social.
- He was inquisitive.
Lessons Christians learn from the incident when Jesus was left behind by His parents in the Temple
- Christians should involve their children in prayer/ worship of God.
- Christians should give clear instructions to their children in their day to day affairs.
- Parents should be concerned of the whereabouts of their children.
- Children should be taught the word of God/ the Bible.
- There should be communication among family members/ they should inform one another of their whereabouts.
- Children should obey their parents.
- Parents should love their children.
- Christians should accommodate the views of the youth.
- Christians should exercise tolerance/ forgiveness.
Reasons why Mary took Jesus to the temple in His early life
- To dedicate Him to God.
- For her purification.
- To receive religious instruction.
- To expose Jesus to their religious faith.
- To observe the Passover feastival.
- For His naming.
- For circumcision.
Ways in which parents develop their children’s spiritual life
i. By having the children baptized/ participate in the sacramental life of the church.
ii. Leading a righteous life for the child to copy/ being good role models.
iii. Taking children to church for dedication/ thanksgving.
iv. By allowinghim/her to interact with otherse.g.Sunday school.
v. By praying to God to guide the chid.
vi. By exposing the child to church activities.
vii. By condeming the child’s evil activities/correcting them.
viii. By offering counseling services on spiritual matters.
ix. Teaching them to read the Bible.
Ways which show Jesus came from a poor background from the early life upto twelve years
i. His father was a poor carpenter.
ii. His mother was an ordinary village girl.
iii. He was born in a manger/ cattle shed/ wrapped in swaddling clothes.
iv. He was born in a small town of Judah/ Bethlehem.
v. The first people to visit him were shepherds who were lowly regarded.
vi. He was revealed to Smeon/ Anna who were simple.
vii. During his dedication the parents offered birds.
viii. He grew up in Nazareth/ a town of low status.
Reasons why children should take part in church activities
- They are made in the image of God.
- To follow the example of Christ who went to the Synagogue/Temple.
- To prepare them for future roles as leaders.
- To teach them religious beliefs/ practices.
- To lay a foundation for Christian morals at an early age.
- Jesus taught that the Kingdom belongs to them/ He appreciated/ blessed children.
- For the continued growth of the church.
- To help develop/ improve their talents.
- To give them an opportunity to socialise with others.
- To help them spend their leisure time positively.
Ways in which Christians show respect to places of worship in Kenya today
- They should maintain the cleanliness in the places of worship.
- Christians should obsserve silence in places of worship.
- Places of worship are treated with reverence; in some cases shoes are removed.
- Christisans dress in decent clothing as they go to places of worship.
- Order is maintained in places of worship i.e. only authorised people are allowed to talk or make announcements.
- Posters, notices, decorations and flowers are always put to remind people that they are in a sacred place.
- Constructing special places for worshipping God or dedicating them.