Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: When we get to know Joseph and Mary more personally we will see Christmas from their point of view.

December 13, 1998


(Use an object lesson of our Nativity Scene from home – pull figures out of a box one at a time while talking)

One of my favorite parts of Christmas preparation is putting up the Nativity set. Each year, like many people, you may pull yours out of storage, dust it off and set it somewhere in your home.

A. The decorative Nativity Scene has become one of the staples of Christmas. No scene would be complete without the three figures at the center.

Obviously, Jesus Christ is front and center, in a manger. But two other indispensable figures are those of Mary and Joseph.

B. As we look at a Nativity scene, it’s hard to ignore that he Christmas story is wrapped around people – around real life men and women we think we know, but who have never taken on much of a life of their own.

How well do we really know Joseph and Mary?

C. AIM: Our aim today is to get to know Mary and Joseph more personally so that we can see Christmas from their point of view.


A. When Mary was born, the golden age of Israel’s proud history was past. No king of David’s family had ruled in Jerusalem for over 500 years.

But the Jews were still waiting for the Messiah, the ruler promised throughout the pages of the Scriptures, promised through the prophets. The one from David’s family who would sit on David’s throne and rule forever.

B. The evidence about Mary points to a humble, godly Jewish upbringing. Mary’s father, apparently, was a descendant of the great King David through David’s son, Nathan.

Mary’s first impressions as a child probably centered on devotion to God and to God’s Word.

C. Mary was from the town of Nazareth. First century Nazareth was famous for only one thing – its sin.

It was located just four miles from the Roman garrison at Sepphoris. When the boys in the army got a few days leave and some bonus pay, they went to Nazareth where they could find cheap wine and a red-light district where women would be waiting for them.

In Nazareth Gabriel speaks to a young woman.

READ LUKE 1:26-38

D. When Mary first appears in the Scriptures, she is in the presence of an angel. She was already engaged. Most marriage agreements were made when the children were fairly young. In all likelihood when Gabriel spoke to her, Mary is probably only 13 or 14 years old, still living with her parents.

Some are under the impression that God chose Mary because of something righteous in her. Gabriel makes it clear that she was chosen by God as an act of grace. He says to her, “Greetings, you who are highly favored!” (v. 28), and that word “favored” means to receive grace.

As Mary listened to the angel she must have wrestled with the consequences that would come in her life if she accepted God’s call. How am I going to explain this to my family? What will Joseph say? What about the townspeople? What will they think of me? Am I headed for a life of being a single parent? Mary would probably live her whole life under a cloud of suspicion from her family and neighbors.

E. As she listens to the angel, Mary says, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)

Within Mary’s decision to be fully submissive to the call of God was her willingness, if need be, to suffer ridicule and contempt and loneliness. God certainly didn’t force this choice on Mary; she willingly embraced what God had for her. But the decision was made with no assurance that anyone except God would ever fully understand.

Luke 1:39 says that Mary then made a trip to visit her relative, Elizabeth who was pregnant with a son that would be known as John the Baptist.

Maybe this is what she was thinking as she went…

Sanctuary goes black

Then immediately to light setting #4

(Ellen sings – “Breath of Heaven/Mary’s Song”)

Bring lights back to setting #3


Mary had no guarantee that her beloved Joseph would understand or even believe her story of miraculous conception.

She now had to face the man she loved and tell him that she was pregnant – and Joseph knew he wasn’t the father.

A. The Gospel of Matthew says that Joseph was a righteous man. Like Mary he would have been a careful observer of the Law of Moses.

B. The Bible says that he worked for his living as a carpenter. In those days the job of a carpenter was to plan and build homes, manufacture household furniture and construct farming tools. Joseph was not a wealthy man, but he should not be thought of as illiterate or untaught.

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Dean Johnson

commented on Nov 25, 2013

I found especially helpful the discussion of Joseph's actions and decisions.

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