She was a young girl, barely a teenager. He had always been a faithful son, respected in society and known to be hardworking. They were betrothed to be married as per the custom in those days. That’s all that’s normal about this story as far as we know. They were soon to face the wrath of their society when they learned that Mary was pregnant before the wedding, and Joseph had a decision to make.
We all know the story. That’s what we usually hear this time of the year, year after year. But let me turn your attention to a specific action of both Mary and Joseph that has really challenged me the last couple of years. Radical obedience to God’s calling even when it didn’t really make sense to them. Why them? What now? Why should this be so complicated? All fair questions they could’ve asked. For all we know they might’ve wondered the same as well.
Yet… they fully obeyed. What happened at Bethlehem was not a fairy tale. Instead it was a picture of absolutely surrendering their plans, their dreams, their reputations, their traditions, expectations of their culture at the feet of the Almighty God who holds it all– a picture of complete surrender even when it hurt and didn’t make sense. The baby in the manger was a symbol of complete obedience of the Son to the Father to fulfil His plan to save mankind from eternal destruction.
The story of Christmas is a call to humanity- to you and me. A call to obey and fully surrender to this Sovereign God.
Why should you?
You may have been going through a season of doubt, or barrenness or worry about the future or just frustration at how your life has turned out versus what you had dreamt it would be like. You may have been going through a season of unfaithfulness, of denying God because it seems like He is not seeing the pain you’re going through….you know what you’re going through. And as the world lights up, songs and colours and stars and all, it may seem like goads in your wounds, the carols might just be a lot of noise in your ears, you don’t seem to have a reason to rejoice. It’s good to remember that there were two lonely people on their way to Bethlehem the night before Jesus was born- a pregnant lady on a donkey’s back and her desperate husband looking for shelter- both despised, judged, looked down upon by the very people they had spent their entire lives with and forlorn. Yet they held on to the God who had called them to this great mission of being parents to the boy Jesus. Nobody else would understand them. That did not matter when heaven was on their side.
So this Christmas, I would like to ask you to bring yourself to that manger in Bethlehem- the place where the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, was born to save you and me from our sinful ways by dying for us. As you see the shepherds kneel in worship, look at the baby in the manger and his parents- that baby’s cry meant the beginning of your freedom from the clutches of sin. While we exchange gifts and greetings, let me remind you that this was the greatest gift mankind ever got. And the offer to accept that gift of salvation still stands.
You may have a lot of questions, you may have been living your entire life doing good deeds, you may have been brought up knowing the Bible inside out, you may occupy the first bench in church week after week, you might have celebrated many Christmases before this or you’re cynical about this whole thing, you still can’t seem to understand why a good God would allow suffering in this world- it doesn’t matter. The call is to fully surrender your life to the lordship of Jesus Christ and accept the salvation He gives. There’s nothing else you can do to get right with God. The answers to your questions will slowly come with the wisdom that God gives. Would you radically obey? The journey to Bethlehem and beyond wasn’t easy, neither will your journey of faith be. But it will be worth it. That’s the gift of Christmas… a call to experience that redemption…come!
O come, all you unfaithful
Come, weak and unstable
Come, know you are not alone O come, barren and waiting ones
Weary of praying, come
See what your God has done
He’s the Lamb who was given
Slain for our pardon
His promise is peace
For those who believe So come, though you have nothing
Come, He is the offering
Come, see what your God has done (O Come, All You Unfaithful, Bob Kauflin, Lisa Clow)
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:11)