I hope everyone is having a blessed and safe Christmas wherever you are.
While for so many it doesn’t feel like Christmas, the reason for the season always seems to have a deeper more ponderous message every year. I can’t help but think of what things must have been like back in those days when Mary and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem to register for the census. The magnitude of the birth of Jesus must have weighed on their minds somewhat, as Mary was visited by the angel of the Lord, and Joseph was told in a dream. They definitely knew this baby was going to be more than special, blessed and given by God.
And yet, like so many of us still who have all of God’s love letters to read daily, did they really know just Who this baby was going to be, What He would accomplish for the world and How? Did they understand as she was tiredly sitting on that donkey of how God’s plan of reconciliation with all of mankind would be carried out, and how intricately He would work in the lives of those who chose and choose to trust in Him even when He’s silent?
Yesterday at church my pastor had a sermon on what was sacrificed – the six levels of giving that believers also learn to give as they grow in faith. It gave me new nuggets to think about and it was incredible. (we don’t have the sermon up yet on the church page) but I have to just give a few little nuggets here.
The wisemen sacrificed their money- following a star for what must have felt like years in the planning, waiting and watching, then going to see this King of the Jews, gave of their money in rich gifts fit for a king.
The shepherds (considered the lowest of working class) sacrificed their time. Being witness to the heavenly host and receivers of the message
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
They left their flocks and went to the city to find the Christ child. Can you imagine? They not only heard the message, they told everyone about what they had seen. Pastor gave a little extra wondering out loud, how amazing it must have been about 35 years later that these guys having seen Jesus at his birth, most likely witnessed his ministry, trial, death and resurrection…. and continually told others of that special night and seeing him as a baby.
Mary… blessed among women and highly favored by the Creator of the universe and all that is in it. Just that alone is enough to be amazed about. Sacrificed her future. Thinking she had to have been about 14 years old when she was engaged to Joseph, being told you are going to have a baby when you’ve not been yet with a man… huh?!
Having to tell your fiance that you are pregnant, but the baby is not his?? Yikes! Just scary from the get go.
But what about raising God’s son? The Bible mentions how she put experiences away in her heart to ponder them. But did she really understand as she looked into the face of that little baby, just what kind of life He would live, and the immense pain He would suffer? Seeing Jesus on the cross, when Jesus told her, ““Woman, behold your son!” Then telling John, “Behold your mother!”
I can’t stand it when my boy gets sick with flu, or a painful eye infection, or any kind of hurt. She watched her son die an excruciating death. Did she have any niggling doubts or did she believe He would be alive again in three days?
But that’s not all of it. Her other children, she watched them die martyrs deaths. She sacrificed her future.
Not much is mentioned of Joseph after Jesus is born. As Daisy said, there’s always a reason when the Bible includes or excludes events or people. But we don’t know what became of Joseph. However, his sacrifice was what something many people can understand. He sacrificed his reputation. He is engaged to a woman who turns up pregnant and the baby is not his- yet because of his dream, he knows what’s going on and still takes Mary as his wife. Can you imagine the ridicule of family and friends? The gossip and talk among neighbors and acquaintances? Come on man, you can’t be seriously that much of a pushover, a dupe and an idiot for marrying someone who’s fooled around on you!
Joseph- was given the gift, the task and the blessing to be the dad of the Son of God.
Raising and teaching the savior of the world. Bringing him up in the traditions of his fathers, teaching him life skills, and the mastery of carpentry.
When Joseph, Mary and Jesus went to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve, and stayed behind unbeknownst to his parents, and they find him teaching the pharisees, rabbis and other religious men in the Temple, Joseph had to be a little swelled with pride there “That’s my boy!”
The Bible doesn’t say anything more about Joseph after that, but even if he had died soon after, he must have seen the special aspects of the boy he was raising, and also most likely a lot of the ‘flack’ that he was getting from the elites. Joseph sacrificed his reputation to be a dad.
Of course God sacrificed His one and only begotten Son- He gave all He had because He loves the world so much, that He still now desires that no one be separated from Himself. Remembering that kind of love when we hear people say things like “my god would never….” My God did, because He loves us that much- and that is an unfathomable love to our limited understanding.
Jesus. Gave His life. He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, who left His place of Glory to be born in the most humble of places, His message delivered to the lowest of the workin’ man…. yet honored by the wise. He loved the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the lame, demon possessed, the troubled, rebels, outcasts, the soldiers… and remembered the widows.
My heart almost explodes with wonder, joy, gratitude when I think about it all. I could write for days about all what He means to me, yet still so much I wrestle with in trust when it comes to day to day things, especially when they pile up on me.
Let me leave it here now though, with just a humble and amazed gratitude for what You have done for me Lord Jesus. It’s not enough for you to come among us, live a human life sinless, and even to die for mine and all the world’s sin. You didn’t have to do any of that, but because of your incredible love, you not only did that- You continuously watch over, bless and help me and every one of us every. single. day.
A lot of the world missed your first time here. I pray no one misses your second time.
Merry Blessed Christmas to all.