Summary: This topical sermon invites listeners to journey back to Bethlehem and explore what that first Christmas must have been like for Mary and Joseph. For added impact, I recommend beginning with the video: A Social Network Christmas.
Christmas through the Eyes of Mary & Joseph
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 12/18/2011
VIDEO: A Social Network Christmas (Joseph & Mary on Facebook)
Last week Ashley, the kids and I went with Dusty, Kara, and Mylee Ribble on a journey to Bethlehem. Of course, we didn’t travel to the actual city of Bethlehem in Palestine; rather, we drove down to Harvester Christian Church in Saint Charles where we were absorbed in a production they call Journey to Bethlehem. More than just a play, Journey to Bethlehem is an immersive experience where the audience is drawn into the story of Jesus’ birth—encountering shepherds and sheep, angels, Roman soldiers, tax collectors, Magi and their camels, as you make your way to Bethlehem to witness the birth of Jesus.
I’ll tell you more about it as I go, but more than anything this Journey served as a vivid reminder that the story of Christmas is wrapped around people—real life men and women we think we know, but who have never taken on much of a life of their own. In order to fully appreciate the miracle of Christ’s birth I’d like to pull back the curtain of your imaginations and invite you to journey with me back to the first century, to see Christmas through the eyes of a young, happy couple betrothed to one another and on the verge of the greatest moment in history.
In the first chapter of the book of Luke, the Bible says, “God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:26-27 NIV).
Although this is all the background information we’re given about this young couple, we can learn quite a bit from it. The fact that Mary lived in Nazareth means that she came from humble beginnings. Nazareth wasn’t known for much. It was a small, insignificant town on the outskirts of a Roman garrison. It boasted a few bars and a red light district that offered a little weekend entertainment to soldiers with a few days leave and some bonus pay. Needless to say, Nazareth wasn’t the brightest star in the ancient Near East.
Matthew tells us that Joseph was a carpenter. In those days the job of a carpenter was to plan and build homes, manufacture household furniture and construct farming tools. If Joseph resembled the pious, hard-working class of his Jewish colleagues, he wouldn’t consider marriage until he was at least 25 years old. Mary, on the other hand, was probably no more than 15 when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. Marriages, like Mary and Joseph’s, were usually negotiated and agreed upon by the parents. Since neither of them came from wealthy families, money wasn’t an issue. But both Mary and Joseph came from the proud lineage of King David—some twenty-eight generations down the line—which made Mary and Joseph literally a match made in heaven. From the moment Mary first caught Joseph’s eye, their destinies would be entwined forever.