Summary: The message is a brief review of how our modern Christmas observance came to be. It is a call for Christians to remember what it must be if we will know the power and the peace of the Saviour.
“The birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel’
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
I have long contended that Joseph is the forgotten individual in the account of Jesus’ birth. We are likely to hear more about Elizabeth and Zechariah than we will hear about Joseph! However, had Joseph not been endowed with a high degree of character, the Christmas story could have been quite different. Surely, the inclusion of Joseph into this story serves as a testament to God’s oversight of the momentous events brought His Son into the world.
Every person named in the written account of Jesus’ birth is vital to what was happening. Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John, who would be known as “The Baptist,” were not simply unexpectedly blessed by the birth of a child. This childless couple had prayed for God to bless their home with a child—and God answered. God didn’t just send a child, He sent an angel to announce that a child would be born to them. The angel announced to Zechariah, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” [LUKE 1:13-17].
Mary was not incidental to the birth of the Christ; the angel’s message made this evident. “‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end’” [LUKE 1:28-33].
In like manner, God knew that Mary was betrothed to Joseph. It was not an accident that Joseph would be confronted by this unexpected demand. God sought a man of character who would ensure that the child Jesus would have a protector in the home, a man who would model righteousness and character.
The heart of the nativity story is the birth of the Christ, the Son of God who came to redeem fallen mankind. However, we are living in strange times; religious people unconsciously and inexorably move away from the Faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Let me give a few examples of what I’m speaking about. One song that is becoming increasingly popular at Christmas in the land of Spurgeon, Wesley and Whitefield is the John Lennon song, “Imagine.”
Imagine there no heaven; it’s easy if you try.
No hell below us, above us only sky.
Imagine all the people living for today.
Imagine there’s no countries; it isn’t hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too.
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
So, people celebrate the birth of the Son of God by imagining that the spiritual aspects of life are a figment of our collective imagination. I wonder why people that see this as a “Christmas” song would even want to celebrate Christmas.