Summary: This message focuses on the Biblical history that surrounds the birth event of Christ
Mary of Nazareth
Just about everyone in the world has heard something about the Christmas Story. Almost everyone knows that … along with Santa Clause, Christmas trees, and songs about Decking Halls with Holly … there is a back story. And the back story involves a baby and a manger.
You know the locale – a manger in Bethlehem. You know the cast of characters – Mary and Joseph, the angels and shepherds, the wise men and King Herod. You may know the plot details – the census, the long journey, the over-crowded inn.
But there is much more to the Christmas story that meets the eye. For the next 4 Sundays we’re going to take a close look at the Christmas story. We’ll examine what actually happened historically … over 2000 years ago on the other side of the planet. We’ll look at what this story teaches us about God’s Character and Purposes. We’ll see what the story means for our lives today.
We’ll start by looking at Mary’s Home-town.
1. Mary’s Town
Luke 1:26-27 starts the story with these words: 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.
Nazareth was not a hot spot in Galilee. It was an insignificant little town with a population of around 200 farmers, shepherds, and manual laborers. The hot spot was Sepphoris – a thriving city of over 30,000 including wealthy merchants who lived in luxury villas.
How many of you have heard of Sepphoris? We’ve all heard of the little nothing village of Nazareth. Why? Because Nazareth was Mary’s hometown … and Nazareth became the hometown for Jesus. In fact, Jesus and his followers were called “Nazarenes.” This was an insult. It was a way of saying, “You’re nobody from nowhere.”
You may remember when Phillip told his friend Nathanael about Jesus … Nathanael’s response was, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” If Nazareth had any reputation at all, it was a bad one!
But God chose this insignificant little town to fulfill His greatest work on earth. That tells us something about how God works. He chooses the most out-of-the way places, the most insignificant people, the most unexpected methods to accomplish his purposes.
Paul expanded on this in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29: "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."
God often chooses to work quietly behind the scenes. No one but Mary knew anything of import was happening that day in Nazareth. As far as everyone else was concerned, life was going along as it had been for many years.