“This is how the birth of Jesus came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:18-21

So much to get done. A baby just born, lodging to be immediately acquired, work for Joseph to earn wages for food, clothing, and home; yes, so much to do. They had borrowed an animal stable in their emergency in which to give birth. The poor shepherds had come to worship, but they had no means to give gifts. The unexpected Magi with their then unknown valuable gifts would not arrive for months. 

The circumcision of Jesus must take place within a week, either by Joseph or a mohel. Then the baby would receive his name, already given to mother and father by angelic messengers from heaven. The time of the purification of Mary in the Temple in Jerusalem was yet a month off. Simeon and Anna still had no idea of their Lord’s visit to the Temple soon to take place.

We are not aware of the resources available to Joseph, only that they were a poor couple. They did have all the resources of heaven behind them, but they had no experience in what this entailed. They were aware of the interest of God and heaven in their child, just not sure at this point what all that meant. The pregnancy and birth of a child to Mary, still a virgin, was a complete mystery to them both. They could only go with the flow of what had been supernaturally visited upon them.

They knew they were on a continuous adventure filled with mystery. Mary, particularly, was struck with wonder as she pondered these strange events in her heart. Joseph was filled with a sense of responsibility to provide for and protect his wife and baby; he had her character to guard as well, for only he and she knew there was no immorality involved in her pregnancy before marriage to Joseph. The trek to Bethlehem for census-registration had removed them from the gossip of small town Nazareth. And this concern likely kept them in Bethlehem for the time being. They were on a course pretty much out of their hands. One day at a time was their only approach.

In all reality, this is exactly yours as well. You have no idea what tomorrow may bring. You are in the hands and plans of a Sovereign God. We may make our plans, but the outcome is the Lord’s. My wife and I were reminded of this again just this last week as we headed out for an out of town doctor appointment. At the first intersection from our home we were broadsided by a car running a red light. Our lives were preserved by driving a big heavy car, the seat belts, and airbags; and, of course, God’s perfect plan for us. 

We learn from this recorded account of Joseph and Mary that we must fully rest in the providence and care of our Heavenly Father for all circumstances of our life here and in the courts of heaven, where we may be ushered at any moment. It would be well for us to follow Mary’s example in pondering God’s ever present concern and care for our lives; to imitate Mary’s faith, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word.” 

This is a powerful lesson for you of how to live a life of faith, which is the calling of all who claim to be a disciple of Jesus. You are now in the immediate days after Christmas. How will you live out the days of your life going into a new year? It needs to be a life of faith patterned after Mary’s and Joseph’s example: “Be it unto me according to your word.” They are truly your sister and brother in the Lord. Follow their example.

“Not in that poor lowly stable, with the oxen standing by, we shall see him, but in heaven, set at God’s right hand on high; when like stars his children crowned all in white shall wait around.”

(5th verse of Cecil Francis Alexander’s hymn, “Once in Royal David’s City,” 1848)

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