The Reason for Christmas

“Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.nativity

And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’

And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’

And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”

Luke 2:1-16 NASB

The Reason for Christmas

“Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.

cross and Christmas treeAnd Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’

And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’

And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”

Luke 2:1-16 NASB

An Honorable Man

He plays one of the smaller roles in the Christmas story, yet because of his integrity – God chose him as step-father for the holy.

Joseph, son of another Jacob, is mentioned in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1. This was the man whose fiancé, Mary, received more attention than he. In fact, most nativity scenes dress Mary in royal blue with a halo around her face while Joseph stands in the background, clothed in a drab brown robe.

A strong man knows when to step forward but also when to step back.

Joseph is the intuitive character who listens to angels, both before and after the birth of Jesus. He follows instructions to the letter, probably an important habit for a carpenter.

Joseph listens to the Angel
Joseph listens to the Angel

He is the righteous man who refuses to condemn Mary to a public stoning, even after she is found to be pregnant before their marriage. Instead, he quietly marries her and supports her calling as the virgin mother of the Messiah.

He is the man of integrity who refuses to consummate their marriage until after her baby is born.

He protects the mother and child, moves them away from Herod and into Egypt, then back to Nazareth when it is safe.

Joseph appears in just a few scenes within the first two chapters of Matthew. Then after a brief cameo appearance when Jesus was 12 and impressing teachers at the synagogue, Joseph disappears.

Legend tells us that he must have been the one who taught Jesus how to craft furniture, removed splinters from the young Messiah’s hands and modeled patience while building, sanding and polishing finished products.

Scripture also implies that he died long before young Jesus began his public ministry. Joseph left a widow and several children, including his step-son Jesus, the Christ.

Joseph lived as an honorable man who played an important yet virtually silent role in the Christmas story. His example lives on and reminds us that God can use each of us in a mighty way – no matter how public or private our roles.

© 2012 GateWay of Hope Ministries

Afraid but Available

It’s Part 1 of the Christmas story.

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. This teenaged girl from Nazareth was “greatly troubled.”

The angel said, “Do not be afraid.” He then told her that even though she was a virgin, she would bear God’s son.

A pregnancy miracle by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And what was her response to all this news? “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Imagine Mary’s experience:
• She saw and talked with an angel
• She was told she would have a baby even though she was a virgin
• She was told that the power of God would overshadow her

Extraordinary or impossible.

Surely Mary felt afraid and confused, but look at her response recorded in Luke 1:26-38. She was willing to do anything God wanted her to do.

God had a plan, and He chose Mary to carry it out. It was an impossible plan as far as Mary was concerned. It was a fearful plan, since pregnancy outside of marriage could result in stoning.

But it was clearly God’s plan.

Mary chose to trust God and be available. She didn’t let her fear stop her from being used for God’s purposes.

What has God chosen you to do? How have you worked through the fear?

© 2012 GateWay of Hope Ministries