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The Christmas Story: Starring Mary and Joseph



Every Christmas, I try to study Jesus' birth in a new light. Last year, I went through all the Gospels searching for each of their perspectives on that night, and studied it the entire month of December. This year, I want to take a look at Jesus' birth through the eyes of each of the major characters: Mary and Joseph, the wise men, the shepherds, and Jesus. I want to learn how the Christmas story affects each and every one of us, no matter who we are or where we've been.


Today, I want to look at Mary and Joseph. I want to look at this from their perspective, through the lens that they experienced everything through. I think that so often, our interpretation of Scripture is colored by our own stories, biases, and opinions, and while that isn't always a bad thing, it can bring new life to the Bible when we take a step back and read it through a different perspective. I'm going to be honest - I'm not the best at stepping back and reading Scripture through a new lens, so we can learn together. Ultimately, it's my biggest prayer that God shows us something new through their stories today.

 

Mary, probably pretty young, maybe even around my age, was engaged to Joseph. From what Scripture says, Joseph was a godly, honorable man (Matthew 1:19, 24-25). Everything was going great - until one day, out of nowhere, the angel Gabriel came to pay her a visit. The angel cheerfully greets her, calling her "highly favored" and declaring that the Lord is with her. I can't imagine all the emotions she was feeling; shocked, terrified, honored, confused. Scripture says she was "greatly troubled", and rightly so. The news she's about to receive is going to rock her world.


Not only did the angel come and visit Mary, he came with major news. He told Mary that she had found favor with God, and she was to give birth to a son, named Jesus, who would be the Messiah and future King. Understandably, Mary asked, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel graciously explained that the Holy Spirit would make this all happen, and she would give birth to the Son of God.


And in response to all of this, she says, "I am the Lord's servant. May your word to me be fulfilled."


Wow. What faith. What trust. Mary had nowhere near all the answers, and yet she surrendered to God's will and plan for her. This was life changing news. She was going to have a baby, as a virgin, and this would ruin her reputation. To be unwed and pregnant was despised in her culture, and she would be looked down upon for that.


I mean, even Joseph wanted to quietly divorce her after hearing she was pregnant. His future wife was pregnant, and she was claiming that this was the Holy Spirit's doing - can you imagine how crazy that would have sounded? Can you imagine how hurt he felt, knowing she was pregnant and now, she's telling him that their baby is the Messiah? The one that they've been waiting 400 years for?


But, before Joseph did anything, God came and spoke with him. He came and told him that this baby really was His, that Mary wasn't lying, and that it was all part of a beautiful plan.


And without any further questioning recorded in Scripture, Joseph obeys. He marries Mary, and takes her as his wife. And, to protect their testimony, he doesn't have sex with her until after Jesus was born.


Is it just me, or is this wild? The extreme faith that both Mary and Joseph had, that even though this story was unbelievable, even though it would attract ridicule and judgement, even though it couldn't be explained by fact or science, they still chose to trust in what the Lord had said. They clung to the Lord, choosing to believe that what He said would come into fruition.


Even amidst all the emotions; the hurt, confusion, anxiety, shock, doubt.


Even amidst all the judgment and odd looks they received; after all, how can a baby be born from a virgin?


Even amidst all the life change they were already experiencing; becoming newlyweds and beginning a life together while navigating this idea that they were the parents of the Messiah.


Even amidst all the questions and uncertainty; like, how do you parent the Son of God? How do we tell our parents? What's going to happen here?


Even amidst all the lies Satan must have been throwing at them; you can't be Jesus' parents! You're too imperfect, too messed up, too sinful to even go near the son of God, let alone cradle Him and call Him yours.


Even in all of that, Mary and Joseph chose to surrender and fully trust that the Lord was good, and whatever He said was going to happen.


I want faith like that. I want faith to trust that God is doing big things in my life, even when I'm overwhelmed by the daily tasks set before me. I want faith to believe that He has a plan and a purpose in the heartache, even when I'm confused and lost in my singleness. I want faith to trust that there is grace waiting for me, even in my sin and mistakes and failures. And man, honestly, having faith in this situations seem so small in comparison to trusting God as your learning to parent the Messiah, but that doesn't make it much easier.


One part of the Christmas story that we often look over is something I think is actually quite important, and that's Mary's song. In Luke 1:46-55, Scripture describes how Mary praises God for how He has noticed her, how He is mighty and generous and loving. Mary celebrates how God has blessed His people time and time again, and how He recognizes His people, no matter their position in society.


I find it absolutely incredible that even in the midst of the many emotions and fears and struggles Mary had to be facing during her pregnancy with Jesus, she was able to pause long enough to reflect and praise God for how good He is, even when she might not have felt that way in every moment. Mary was intentional about thanking the Lord for this blessing of a baby, even if it wasn't according to her plan or expectations. Mary reflected on how God has been faithful time and time again throughout history, and as she praises Him for that, I'm sure she finds comfort in trusting that He will come through once again.

 

This Christmas, I admire Mary and Joseph more than ever before. I admire their faith, their courage to trust God even in what probably seemed like an absurd plan. I want to learn from them, have the same kind of faith and trust and courage as they did. I wish I could sit at Mary's feet, hearing about all the emotions she felt, all the struggles she faced, and all the beautifully difficult lessons she learned. I want to hear from Joseph, hear how he felt being the father of the Son of God. I want to study Joseph and how he was a godly husband and father, and I want to hear how his life was changed when God told him that it wasn't a dream, that it was all real. I want to praise like Mary, with faith and hope, even when the situation is less than convenient or easy.


It is my prayer that this post was able to open your eyes a little bit more to the role that Mary and Joseph played in the Christmas story, and maybe even inspire us to learn from their faith and obedience to the Lord.

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