Are you so familiar with the Bible text of your preferred version that it no longer speaks to you powerfully? Do you want to explore the message of the New Testament? Then this fresh, expanded translation of the New Testament ("Word Come Alive") is for you. Respected Bible editor Martin Manser has included helpful phrases and background in italics within the text. The result is an insightful translation that expresses the original in contemporary, natural English which will encourage you to respond to the good news of Jesus.
At that time, Emperor Augustus issued an executive order that a census should be taken of the whole known world. The census was conducted so that the people who were registered would have to pay taxes. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. So everyone was required to go back to their own home town to be registered.
Joseph therefore also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and travelled a long way to the little village of Bethlehem (David's home town) in Judea, because he came from David's family line. Joseph went with Mary to be registered there. Mary was legally promised in marriage to him and she was expecting a child. While they were there, she went into labour. She gave birth to a son, her first child, with the rights of the firstborn son. She wrapped him in long strips of cloth and placed him gently in a feeding trough used by cattle, because there was no room that provided shelter. The Son of God was born in the most humble circumstances.
'But the elder son was out working in the field, and as he came close to home, he could hear music and dancing as he caught the smell of roast veal wafting through the air. He called one of the servants and demanded to know what was going on. The servant told him, "Your brother's come home, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he's got him back safe and sound."
'But the elder son resented his father's extravagant love and that he had forgiven the younger son so easily. The elder son became angry at the fuss being made of the younger son and refused to go in and join the party. So his father went out, came alongside him and kept on urging him to come in. But full of smug contempt, he answered his father, "Look, I feel I've been unfairly treated! After all, I've been slaving my guts out dutifully for you for so many years. I've been careful enough to have never once disobeyed any of your orders. Yet during all that time you've never rewarded me by giving me what I deserve. You've never even given me a young goat so that I could celebrate with my friends. But when this precious son of yours turns up out of the blue, after using up your inheritance on prostitutes, you kill the fattened calf for him!"
'Then the father responded tenderly to the elder brother, "My dear son, you are always with me. You've been with me all the time. Everything I have is yours. All the privileges of being my son have always been yours to enjoy. But we had to celebrate and be full of joy, because it is your brother – my son – who was dead and is now alive again. He was lost but now has been found."'