Summary: A Christmas story about Jesus' infancy and childhood. One to share and tell your children.
The Forgotten Christmas Cradle
“The Lord appeared unto Joseph in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit” Matthew 1:18-24
Intro: As Joseph awoke from his sleep and rose from his bed he walked quickly into his carpenter’s shop. He began to sort through the piles of wood looking for the best. The palms of his hands were so familiar with the grains of wood he rejected the olive, the oak, the cypress planks for only the finest blocks of cedar would be good enough to use on his newest project.
Joseph held every piece of wood up to the light to make sure that once the wood was planed and sanded and polished that each piece would match. Joseph had built many fine pieces of furniture for some of the wealthiest people in Nazareth. But never would he spend so much care and time constructing one piece before. For this was no ordinary piece of furniture that he would work on.
This would be a cradle for a child he would name Jesus. But he knew from a dream that this would be no ordinary cradle for this would be no ordinary son. For an angel had told Joseph that the child within his bride Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And this Holy descendant of David would be “Emmanuel: Meaning God is with us. And he would save his people from their sins.”
Joseph would work long hours and stay up late to finish this beautiful cradle before he and Mary were to leave on a journey. For the Roman Emperor had ordered a census be taken throughout the entire Empire. Joseph and Mary would travel to the village of his ancestry Bethlehem in Judea to be counted and taxed.
As Joseph put the finishing touches on this fine looking cradle, he could hear Mary calling, “Joseph we must leave now if we are to make any progress on the road today toward Bethlehem.”
So, Joseph carefully covers the cradle, his best work of art, with a cloth to protect it while they are gone.
But Jesus will never lay in the gorgeous cradle built by Joseph. This Christmas Cradle will be forgotten.
Today we are going to talk about the journey of Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem, from Bethlehem to Egypt, and then from Egypt back to Nazareth.
I. Why was it so important for Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem?
“But thou, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose going forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2
Putting aside the fact that Joseph was obeying the law to Augustus to be counted in the census, Joseph was fulfilling the prophecy of Micah spoken hundreds of years before Jesus was born. We have to understand the importance of the birthplace of Jesus. The scripture tells us there are thousands of places in the land of Judah that are suited for a king to be born.
The city of Beersheba of the tribe of Dan in the land of Judea is mentioned in the Book of Genesis in connection with Abraham the Patriarch. Isaac built an altar in Beersheba (Genesis 26:23–33). Jacob had his dream about a stairway to heaven after leaving Beersheba. (Genesis 28:10–15 and 46:1–7). The sons of the prophet Samuel were judges in Beersheba (I Samuel 8:2). Saul, Israel's first king, built a fort for his campaign against the Amalekites (I Samuel 14:48 and 15:2–9). The prophet Elijah took refuge in Beersheba when Jezebel ordered him killed (I Kings 19:3).