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Christmas Message 2020 - The Christmas Revolution - Part 1
- Matt: 1:18-25;
- Luke 1:35-38, 56;
- Luke 2:4-7;
- Luke 1:46-55
Matt 1:18-25 - “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband, Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means God with us).’
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
It is in my heart every year as to the confusion that most people have over the Christmas story. The first Christmas was not some sweet, peaceful, romantic, heart-warming moment in human history; it was messy, ugly, invasive, chaotic, traumatic, and disruptive. Man, God severely messed up people’s lives and their worlds, in order to place His awesome and miraculous plan into motion.
Our Christmas cards don’t do the Christmas Story justice. Most of our Christmas cards have beautiful pictures with peaceful backgrounds... as the characters in the Christmas story are staged; in their perfect places, with perfect body language; placed in their proper visual sequence to make the Christmas photo look perfect.
But, (or should I say BEHOLD) the first Christmas was anything but that.
It was not neat and pretty! It was cold, nasty, unnerving, frantic, bloody, and smelly. Christmas stunk. There weren’t any beautifully decorated Christmas trees, complete with all these colored blinking lights, pretty lace - gold, silver, and red ornaments, beneath which rested wonderfully wrapped packages for restless fingers to unwrap.
Let’s look at the Christmas story from 4 angles - Joseph’s, Mary’s, Our’s and God’s.
The first Christmas was about Joseph’s story.
That first Christmas was lonely for Joseph. The tears Joseph shed were not tears of joy. Joseph cried because he really did not know what to do and this was not the plan which he had visualized for his life.
Let’s place ourselves in the story and give it some reality: It’s kinda hard to get excited when the child your pregnant wife is giving birth to, is not yours. This wasn’t something Joseph signed on for. He probably remembered the excitement of talking to his father, Jacob, in the carpenter shop, about Mary the daughter of Heli, as he expressed his desire for his father to make the arrangements for him to wed Mary.
He remembered the excitement of how he felt once his father told him that the dowry had been paid, and both Mary and her family had agreed to the engagement. Joseph remembered the feeling of guilt, for the staggering cost his father paid to secure his bride. He carried a deep sense of gratitude for his father’s sacrifice for his future.
Nazareth was probably abuzz with the news that he and Mary were getting married. It was the talk among all the nosey Jewish women at the well.
He remembered the days following, as he worked diligently with his father to add a large room onto his father’s house, where he and Mary would one day live. Maybe tears came to his eyes, as he remembered the excitement in his father’s voice as they built another small room next to his and Mary’s room... for his father’s grandchildren who would one day be born. Maybe his dad even made a small set of carpenter tools which he placed inside a carefully carved box for his future grandson; and the carefully carved doll his dad had made if he had a granddaughter.
But can you imagine how Joseph really felt? How would you feel if all of your life dreams and plans were interrupted by the news that your fiancée was pregnant and you knew you had not slept with her? Man, Imagine the betrayal Joseph felt. Imagine the conversations which he and his father had about her pregnancy. The feeling of betrayal his entire family felt, when news came that their future daughter-in-law was carrying someone else’s baby.
It was impossible to imagine that the little room which they had built for their some-day grandchild...would be the bedroom for someone else’s grandbaby.
I’m sure It was hard for him to buy Mary’s story that she was pregnant; and then to blame her pregnancy on God. Who would believe that story? Not in this small town...not now...not ever. Mary was the last person on the planet that he would have ever thought would have been unfaithful. How could you love someone so much, and promise them that you will always be there for them, and then have them do you this way? How could she?
The internal conflict was so strong that Joseph decided that he would put Mary away privately, rather than put her through the public humiliation of vindicating himself. I’m sure Joseph cried bitter tears...tears of hurt...tears of grief... tears of anger ...tears of betrayal...along with tears of love; due to the fact that he loved her with all of his heart.
And then, Matthew writes - “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Can you imagine as Joseph awoke from the dream...the internal arguments which went on inside his mind. His logic argued that it was only a dream; possibly a dream which he wanted to believe so badly that he thought it up in his mind; while his spirit argued against logic...that the dream was too precise, too vivid, too anointed to be anything but the voice of God.
It was the prophecy of Isaiah which kept coming to mind that finally helped to resolve his internal argument; “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel... which means, God with us.”
Now, here he is...in Bethlehem; stuck in a smelly stable; a barn carved inside of a rock in the back of an overcrowded Inn, holding Mary’s hand between contractions; knowing the time won’t be long before the baby will be born. Tears fall from his cheeks as he wonders: will he be the right kind of father...will he be able to raise this child who is not his own flesh and blood, with the same kind of love with which he would raise him...if he was his?
Man, that first Christmas was tough. It was anything but a joyful time. It was the toughest thing which Joseph had ever faced. What would he do once the baby got here? He couldn’t go back to Nazareth right now. The town’s people would make him and Mary the talk of the town.
Joseph knew couldn’t go back to his father’s carpenter shop... the town’s people would stop doing business with his father. This wasn’t his father’s fault. In spite of his dad’s protest he went ahead and married Mary. Now, here he was... him and Mary alone in the stable. He felt guilty. This was the best he could do for his pregnant wife. He felt like he had let down everyone... his dad and mom... his family and friends back in Nazareth... and now Mary.
A thousand thoughts probably raced through Joseph’s mind that night. He was homesick, lonely, afraid, and most of all, he missed his dad, especially tonight. The sleeve of Joseph’s coat was soaked from wiping his red eyes. If only Joseph could hear his dad’s voice, or feel his strong arms around him, reassuring him that everything would be alright... but dad wasn’t here. All Joseph could feel was the cold night air...as hope was being born on this miserable night.
Join us next week as we continue the story with Mary’s story, Our story and Christ’s story.
Blessings to you all as we celebrate the birth of our risen Savior.