Summary: A Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Sermon
Christmas Eve Service
2:1 ¶ In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.
2 This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3 And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5 to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered.
7 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
10 And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people;
11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus who was born this night. Amen
Of all the characters in the Christmas Story, I can relate to Joseph the best. Who ever gives him any credit? From the biblical record he is the most nondescript person you will ever find. Why, even his identity with his son is lost. Most Jewish boys were called son of Joseph, as in Matthew’s gospel when Jesus was referring to Peter at the time of Peter’s great confession of faith, he said, "Peter bar Jonah," Or Peter son of Jonah, but what about Jesus himself, in our hymn of the day; the last line of the 1st verse says "Haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the Son of Mary." Sonof Mary, not son of Joseph. He might not of bore him, but he helped raise him, he was a son in the sense that Joseph trained him in the skills of a carpenter. But beyond this, Joseph had a problem with his betrothed. We need to take a moment to understand the Jewish marriage system for all of this to make sense.
A man and woman were engaged when they were small children and this was announced by their parents. The next stage was the betrothal. This was the one-year-period during which the couple ratified the previous engagement during which they were known as husband and-wife, lived together, but did not have the rights of husband and wife. Then the finally stage of marriage was when the couple were granted all the rights of a husband and wife.
The story of the Christmas event begins in the betrothal stage, so it is understandable why Joseph is devastated by the pregnancy of Mary. Joseph is a just man, a righteous man, a man of principles. No wonder he was humiliated!! The woman he loved was pregnant, and she cannot explain to him exactly how.
This righteous man knew his options. He could expose Mary by bringing her before the court, or he could privately hand her a bill of divorcement in the presence of 2 witnesses. But his righteousness was clothed in compassion. There were rules covering his situation, but the love of Joseph was more than legalistic. His sense of what was right was also tempered by compassion and forgiveness. Even though he was deeply hurt, he was not vengeful, he could forgive Mary.
Joseph was faithful to Mary. Joseph thought of Mary. Not himself, not of what others might think. He thought of Mary. Even though he didn’t understand all about her condition, he was not willing to put her to shame. Don’t call him weak. He was strong in a compassionate, caring kind of way.
Not only was Joseph compassionate, caring, as he related to Mary, but Joseph also learned to listen to God’s voice in his life. God came to Joseph in a vision and told him he had a special plan for him. God wanted Joseph to stay with Mary, and name this baby Jesus. God came to Joseph and asked him to break with tradition. To do something out of the ordinary. God said to Joseph, stay with his wife who was pregnant even though you aren’t - even in the marriage stage of your relationship, stay with her, support her, and then raise this son as if it were your own. And beside all of this, God says, "and you don’t have to worry about a name for your son I have taken care of that already too, his name will be Jesus."