This Christmas Bonnie and I thought we would publish our thoughts about the story. Traditionally we read it every year on the 25th from Luke. Why? Well, Luke is the gospel that seems to have all the elements in keeping with our modern celebration of that event. As we looked into the first three chapters of Luke I thought I’d check out Matthew. The impression that grabbed me was Luke seems to be written from Mary’s perspective and Matthew seems to be written from Joseph’s perspective. In keeping with that impression Bonnie will write on Luke and I will write on Matthew. We hope that you will enjoy our thoughts on the Christmas story.
As I read through the accounts I was impressed with how much the whole event of Jesus’ conception and birth does not resemble our celebrations. We have sanitized and fantasized what was really a time fraught with danger and shame but amazingly great courage. Over the years of reading the gospels Joseph has gone from being almost a nonentity in the whole situation to being one of my heroes of faith. I will expand on that as we go through the events surrounding the birth of the Son of God.
Keep in mind that scriptures tell us in Galatians 4:4 “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law”. This was the culmination of prophecy and long awaited expectation. The fullness of time is key. There is no mistake about the point in the history of man when He appeared. The people involved where not randomly chosen but vital personalities in the completion of redemption. This was not a cool, frost laden evening that was fantasised. This was a culmination of time – fullness - when everything was complete.
It happened over a period of at least three years. Elizabeth was pregnant for 6 months before Mary. The wise men arrived possibly up to 2 years after Christ’s birth. The events were so spaced out that one would easily miss the significance of this birth. Bethlehem did not have a strip like Las Vegas all lit up in neon with signs pointing to the stable. The inn was not inundated with shepherds, wise men, town’s people and little drummer boys on the evening of His birth. The shepherds, who had a visitation of angels, came to the inn, saw the baby as they were told, and did tell people in the hill country what they had experienced. No one else seemed to venture to the stable at that time. Neither Herod, the king, nor the people’s chief priest nor the teachers of the law were aware of any unusual event. Only the enquiries of the wise men drew any further attention at a national level to the blessed event.
How significant is the pattern we see here? God seems to enjoy changing the world through small beginnings. He starts with an insignificant person, infuses them with His love, His spirit, and they leave a mark that indelibly stamps the history of mankind forever. Look at the men of God and there meagre beginnings. Abraham was one of three sons, not even the first born, with a barren wife. God made him into a Father of many. David was the youngest of his family, not even fit by his father’s estimation to be brought before the prophet, Samuel. Joseph, a carpenter, became the legal guardian of Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus, born in a stable, a simple carpenter from Nazareth, a town of no reputation, brought us the greatest gift the world will ever experience.
As we ponder the goodness of God to mankind this Christmas ask yourself the question ‘what about me?’ What could He do with me? What would He ask of me? Would it be anything more than ‘be obedient’ to the call He has placed on your life? Come follow me.