JesusWalk® Publications

Christmas Incarnation
A Study of Jesus' Birth and of Mary, Joseph, Angels, and the Wise Men
a 4-week Advent Bible study

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Book front cover | back cover

The coming of God into this world to be a man must figure among the greatest events in all human history. Yet in our over-Christmased culture we have trivialized the true Nativity Story in favor of images of Santa and gushings about the warmth of the true Christmas spirit.

This four-week series is designed to help Christians reconnect with the real meaning of Christmas by considering the main characters of the Christmas story:

  1. Mary
  2. Joseph
  3. The Shepherds
  4. The Wise Men

Each was a disciple of Jesus -- St. Mary, the first disciple, followed by each of the others who recognized this newborn as the Messiah and reordered their lives around Him as a result.

This is an old story -- one you've heard in countless sermons. But reexamining it in thoughtful detail from Scripture will help you re-experience its power and truth. It is ideal for:

  • Individuals seeking to regain a deeper understanding of Christmas
  • Small groups that meet during the Advent Season to draw closer to Christ
  • Pastors and teachers who need carefully researched material to use as the basis for sermons and classes

Christmas, of course, is not at its core about spiced cider, gaily-wrapped presents, and shining ornaments. It is about the incarnation, the in-fleshment of the Son of God as a human being. This story did not take place in a decorated villa of Nazareth or a sterilized stable in Bethlehem. The story unfolded among real people whom God called for a purpose beyond themselves -- and who responded, "Yes," when called. It is a story of discipleship and risk. Of faith and hope. Of intimate, caring love and bold never-to-turn-back decisions. The true story of Christmas has the power to re-ignite living faith in you and deepen the quality of your discipleship.

Detailed Table of Contents

Preface 2
Table of Contents 4
References and Abbreviations 6
Reprint Guidelines 8
1. Mary, the Virgin Mother (Luke 1:26-45) 10
  The Facts of Mary's Life (1:26-27) 11
  Mary's Alarm (1:28-30) 12
  The Angel's Unparalleled Announcement (1:31-33) 12
  The Wonder in Mary's Mind (1:34) 14
  Conceived by the Holy Spirit (1:35) 15
  The Meaning of the Incarnation 16
  Nothing is Impossible with God (1:36-37) 16
  Mary's Amazing Submission (1:38) 17
  Blessed Mother of God (1:42-45) 18
2. Joseph, the Stand-In Father (Matthew 1:18-25) 22
  Joseph's Name 23
  Joseph the Husband 23
  Joseph the Carpenter 24
  Mary's Predicament, Joseph's Dilemma 25
  Joseph, the Righteous Man (1:19) 26
  The Angel's Revelation in a Dream (1:20-21) 27
  The Name "Jesus" (1:21) 27
  Joseph Shall Adopt the Child (1:21) 28
  The Virgin Will Conceive (1:22-23) 28
  Emmanuel, God with Us (1:23) 30
  Joseph's Obedience (1:24-25) 30
  Joseph's Protection of Jesus 30
3. The Shepherds' Sign of the Manger (Luke 2:1-20) 34
  1. Jesus Is Born in History (2:1-2) 35
  2. Jesus Is Born in David's Birthplace (2:3-4) 36
  3. Jesus' Birth is Attended by Hardship (2:5-6) 36
  4. Jesus Is Born in Humble Circumstances (2:7) 37
  Shepherds Keeping Watch over Their Flocks (2:8) 37
  The Glory of the Lord (2:9) 38
  The Good News Angel (2:10-11) 39
  A Savior (2:11) 40
  Christ the Lord (2:11) 40
  At the Sign of a Manger (2:12) 41
  Glory to God in the Highest (2:13-14) 41
  The Shepherd's Response (2:15-18) 42
  Mary Ponders the Shepherd's Report (2:19) 42
  Joyful Shepherds (2:20) 43
  Lessons for Disciples 43
4. Wise Men and the Christmas Star of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-12) 47
  Who Are the Magi? (1:1) 48
  What Kind of "Star" Did They See? (1:2) 49
  Why Was Herod Disturbed? (2:3) 50
  Where Was the Messiah to Be Born? (2:4-6) 51
  Herod's Plot (2:7-8) 51
  Led by the Star (2:9-10) 52
  Worshipping the King (2:11a) 52
  Offering Gifts to the King (2:11b) 53
  Disobeying Herod (2:12) 55
  What Does All this Mean? 55
Appendix: Class Handouts 59
  1. Mary, the Virgin Mother (Luke 1:26-45) 60
  2. Joseph, the Stand-In Father (Matthew 1:18-25) 61
  3. The Shepherds' Sign of the Manger (Luke 2:1-20) 62
  4. Wise Men and the Christmas Star of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-12) 63

"Excellent way to 'slow down' during Advent season and to prepare your heart to welcome the King." - Charlotte Flowers
"The strength of the scholarly research evident in the footnotes, while the study remains clear and accessible to the reader, with fresh and thoughtful insights and a devotional focus." - Christie Bruce
"Biblical exegesis was outstanding giving depth to the study." - Jeff Hawley
"Explores the events in a way that gives new insights into how and why things happened." - Richard Breadner
"Have recommended it to other small groups at our church." - Donna Knapp
"Thought provoking questions made for a very in-depth study." - Fred Rogers
"Used part of the lesson for my Junior High Sunday school class." - George Babaz
"Easy to understand, yet an in-depth study, breaking down the verses of the scripture made discussion easier." - Jackie Schillaci
"Puts real people and their feelings and reactions into the Christmas story." - Jen Rosamond
"Great for a small group Bible Study just before Christmas." - James Mandracchia
"This study changes the nativity scene on my table to the relevant and personal arrival of our Savior." - Linda Bowes
"Explanations of Jewish customs of that time and details of the historical setting of the Christmas story brought out things I've never fully understood before." - Jeanne Clark
"These lessons do much to relieve us of the sorry 'Christmas Card mentality.'" - Elvira Reeves
"Insightful, wonderfully-paced study of God's word." - Adriane Burbridge
"Helped me think of Mary and Joseph as real people." - Roberta Gabor  
"Exceptionally well-researched and written." - Robert Crane
"My attention was constantly drawn to the divine dimension of the baby Jesus." - Richard Wabula
"The in-depth-ness of the truth of the word regarding Mary, the loving mother of Jesus, I found especially profound, something rarely spoken of in Protestant circles." - Rose Kallmyer
"I love that Dr. Wilson has overcome the 'denominational' viewpoint." - Tomi Inglis
"The study wasn't a 'reconnect' with the real meaning of Christmas, but a first-time view of the participants at the birth of Christ." David Gilbert
"Used in a group setting, easy to develop ideas arising from the materials. The questions opened new ground." - Heimo Bachmeyer
"During the week when my family was all together, I read it aloud to them. By the third lesson, my college-age sons were saying to me, 'When are we going to do the Christmas devotional?'" - Susan Maxon
"Thoughtfully remembers a well-known story in a fresh and personal way." - Tascha Raymond
"Helped me really think deeply about the sermons for each Sunday as I prepared for each Sunday of Advent." Pastor Danny Maupin
"A great tool with which to gather together an entire Bible Study Group, or even a church, to learn and study together." - Theresa VanderJagt
"Next year we would like to run the study again and invite our not-yet-Christian friends to come along and think about the real, un-romanticized version of the Christmas Incarnation." - Rebecca Robinson

You can print out the Participant Handouts free for your class or small group members.

YouTube logoChristian Incarnation: A Study of Jesus Birth on YouTube, with Dr. Wilson teaching the four lessons in 20- to 25-minute sessions, with pauses for group discussion. 1. Mary; 2. Joseph; 3. Shepherds; 4. Wise Men. The DVD is out of print, but these videos are free for you to use for your class, group, or church via YouTube.

To purchase below, check to the left of the product you select and then click on "Order Now" button at the bottom.

  Christmas IncarnationPaperback format, list $9.95. The paperback version is available only from online sellers or can be ordered from your local bookstore. Order one for each person in your class -- or a copy to help you with sermon preparation. The paperback version has 104 pages and is 5" x 8". ISBN 0983231036 (978-0-9832310-3-5). Order directly from ... 
Kindle e-book formatKindle E-book format, $8.49. You may purchase this version directly from Amazon using one of the links above. This is read using a your Kindle or a Kindle Reader program installed on your computer. It cannot be printed out.
PDF e-book formatPDF E-book format, $8.49 (67 pages, not printed, but a computer download). You purchase the e-book and can download it within minutes. You can read it on your computer in PDF format if you like, or print out a single copy on your printer, either 8-1/2 x 11" or A4 paper. To make multiple copies, get reprint licenses below. No tax is charged on e-books.
Reprint license to copy your own booksReprint License for Christmas Incarnation, $1.50 per copy made. Once you've ordered this item, set quantity field for the number of reprints you plan to make and click on "recalculate." One license is required for each additional copy you make beyond the initial book you purchased. This reprint license prohibits sale of the book to individuals outside your local area or congregation.
Click the box to the left of the item you are selecting, then click on the green button below.

Copyright © 2022, Ralph F. Wilson. <> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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