While Mary & Joseph were still engaged to be married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit, as the angel had told her (11).
Joseph didn’t want to disgrace Mary publicly, so he decided to break their engagement privately. But an angel of God appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has become pregnant by the Holy Spirit of God. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus – which means that he will save his people from their sins.”
(This happened according to what God had said about Jesus through one of his prophets, 700 years earlier: “A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Emmanuel” — which means “God is with us”.)
When Joseph woke up, he obeyed God’s angel & married Mary. But they didn’t have sexual relations while she was carrying her son inside her body, the son whom Joseph would name Jesus (12).
Before Jesus was born, the Emperor Augustus had ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire (13). At that time, Quirinius was the governor of Syria, which was the Roman name for the province that included the areas of Galilee & Judea. Every resident had to register with the census-takers in his own hometown. So Joseph had to walk from the town of Nazareth in Galilee about 70 miles to the little town of Bethlehem in Judea.
Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David; Joseph went there because he was descended from David. Joseph took Mary with him, since they were engaged to be married.
While they were in Bethlehem to register for the census, Mary gave birth to her son. Because there was no room for the couple to stay in the inn, Jesus was born in the stable out back.
Mary wrapped her baby snugly & placed him in a cradle — improvised from a trough used for feeding the animals.
(11) Matthew 1:18-25
(12) Four men wrote accounts of the life & ministry of Jesus; they were Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. Matthew includes a list of ancestors of Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus, going back to Abraham. Luke also includes a list of ancestors of Jesus, going back to Adam; some people think Luke lists ancestors of Joseph, but others think they are ancestors of Mary.
(13) Luke 2:1-7