At the time you read this, my daughter will be married. The thoughtful planning and time and energy to make it a very special wedding day will be complete, and she and her husband will be on a wonderful journey of the discovery in marriage; the companionship, self-sacrifice, serving, caring, forbearing, forgiveness, godly love.
Think about the first Christmas when Mary, who was engaged to be married to Joseph, had to tell him that an angel came to her and told her that she was with child, born of the Spirit of God. Mary was a godly young woman that accepted this news both in joy but also in submission and fear of what it could mean. It could only look like she was pregnant out of wedlock, and at that time, this was a fearful thing since she could not only lose Joseph, but be shamed by her entire community.
Joseph himself had to make some decisions about the matter. He decided he was going to “put her away quietly,” that is, say “goodbye” to her and send her on her way and keep the whole situation as low-key as possible. It was an honorable thing to do and most likely the best possible way to respond to what he thought was devastating news.
When the angel came to Joseph in a dream in the night and told him to go ahead and take Mary to be his wife, it also required great faith and trust in God as well. There was great possibility that he would bring shame upon himself by marrying her and bring question marks to the minds of the people all around him for the rest of his life: “Hey, over there…he is the man that married a woman with child that was not his own. What were his parents thinking…giving a blessing to a marriage like this?”
Here, this young couple trusted God that this was His perfect will and went on a long journey to Bethlehem together for the census. Even at their arrival, there was no room for them in this small, insignificant village. We often place such peaceful nostalgia around the manger scene. We seem to forget that Mary birthed Jesus like any other woman—in great pain. She and Joseph must have been tired and weary from the long journey. The place where Jesus was born was most likely very small, and there was no baby lotion or sterile wipes…and yes, the baby Jesus cried.
Talk about a rocky start for this newly-married couple. It took great trust and belief that God was with them even in the most difficult and humble circumstances. It is true they had encouragement from some lowly shepherds and a star in the sky to direct Magi to the child and bring gifts fit for a king. Yet even after all of this, they had to flee to Egypt for their Son’s life because Herod was after Him to kill Him.
I hope you find encouragement in this story about Joseph and Mary and Jesus. The challenges that Joseph and Mary faced were immense. There was nothing easy about this from the beginning. You may find your marriage in a lot of stress or trouble or you know of someone currently facing a serious crisis and have no idea what is ahead.
In the account of the first Christmas, I see two humble worshipers of God, trusting in Him to see them through. I see them focused on the hope and treasure of their new Son, Jesus, prophesied to be the Messiah, the anointed One, who would save people from their sin.
Yes! I believe that Joseph and Mary went through the most difficult of trials and held on to one another because of their trust in the One who would bring the greatest gift of all: Jesus, the Son of God. When we keep our eyes focused on the true treasure, Jesus, He will see us through. He is the greatest gift of all and always will be. The gifts of the Magi were only small tokens compared to Jesus who came as a sacrifice and freely gave His grace and salvation to all who trust Him. Will you trust in Him this Christmas and make Him your focus? He is really the only gift that matters. May you find hope and peace that only Jesus can bring this Christmas.