Summary: Showing us how faith operated in the lives of Mary and Joseph, and how essential it is for believers to have a similar faith in God
Faith in the Manger
On this Christmas Eve Worship Service( of the year 2006), we are going to focus on the manner in which faith was demonstrated in the incarnation event of Jesus Christ.
Let us first of all remember that no matter what we do for God, an attitude of faith is absolutely essential. Remember the words of the Apostle in Hebrews, “For without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). We see a number of things in this verse that are fundamental and conditional to the accomplishment of God’s will in our lives.
If we want to please God, we must exercise faith, but reason, but faith
Secondly, if we want to realize His purposes and know Him personally, we must believe in Him. There needs to be a believe system that is Biblical and correct. “must believe that he exists”
Thirdly, the exercise of faith and earnest trust will be rewarded. “He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” There are four elements in this verse that we want to enquire of as we look at the Christmas story. Leave one of them out, and the whole structure collapses. Today, we live in a world in which the fabric and structure of faith is nothing more than easy-believism, self-effort, self-improvement, or positive thinking. We hear words like “believe” “faith” or “believe in yourself”
There is no question that in the Advent story there was a proper exercise of faith.
First of all, let us ask ourselves why it was important that Joseph and Mary be people of faith. Remember with God all things are possible. Is it possible that the incarnation, the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us, could have been accomplished without faith? After all, it was the Holy Spirit who was instrumental in causing the Christ to be born in the womb of Mary, so that Joseph was not involved at all in the physical and spiritual aspects of the actual birth of Jesus. Remember what the angel said to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy one to be born will be called the Son of God”(Luke 1:35). It was all of God, and it was essential it be all of God so that the identity and person of Jesus would be truly the Son of God – God manifest in the flesh! Everything that took place in the entire happening of the Advent was at the initiative of God. The wise men coming from the East – Joseph and Mary apparently had nothing to do with their arrival – they were as surprised at their arrival as Herod was surprised. The angel appearances, and the dreams that were given were all at the initiative of God. All of this and yet it was essential that the element of faith was crucial to what God was doing. Without faith it is impossible to please God. And by faith, the Bible does not simply mean believing that God exists, and that too is important, but the exercise of faith, faith that trusts and relies upon Him.
Can, you imagine Joseph and Mary doing the whole thing without the help and power of God operating through their lives. How would Mary have handled the pregnancy in the role of a virgin without faith? Had she not believed the word of the angel, and simply tried to reason it out, how would she have coped with it all? Without faith, what would she have told her parents? Without faith, what would she have told Joseph? “Joseph, I had t his weird dream, and somehow looking back upon it it was more like a mightmare, for some strange person, reminded me of an angel told me I was going to conceive without any relations with you. Terrible! What an awful thought! Wow, I would be the laughing stock of Nazareth. I would be stoned for immorality and adultery! Terrible.
What would Joseph had thought had he tried to figure it all out on the basis of the natural? This girl, while I love her, has gone nuts. A baby and me not the biological father! I don’t care what sort of dreams I have or who speaks to me, it just isn’t done. If God wants to send the Messiah, why dosen’t he choose someone else; who am I that this should happen to.
And then when Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, you remember how Elizabeth and Mary rejoiced in what God was doing in both of their lives. There were no doubts, there were no questions, but affirmations of faith.