Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Christmas Story
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Christmas Story
We hear the story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Christmas Story, frequently during the Christmas Season. The Christ Child is at the center of our attention these days around Christmas—as well he should be. He is the epitome of God’s love and the clearest revelation of God. The squirming child in the manger is the Word of God who dwelt among us. He is the one who saved us. Not only do we marvel at who the Christ Child is, but also at his lowly birth. The stable, manger and the birth announcement to shepherds in the fields all demonstrate this. The declaration by the angel and the heavenly host emphasizes the inclusiveness of God’s love and actions, also.
If we can stop staring at that new life born on that first Christmas morning and look at the people who surround him, there is an important lesson that we can learn. It is a lesson that we can incorporate into our lives. In this scene with Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Mary and Joseph hover over the baby, but the shepherds aren’t far away. The Magi are packing up and preparing to head east.
God could have entered human history and “pitched his tent” among us in any number of ways. It wasn’t necessary for God to team up with humans. Jesus could have simply appeared as the Lord to Abraham. Remember the story when God talked with Abraham was by the Oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18:1-15)? Jesus could have come with a trumpet fanfare, as some people believe he will at the end of time (Revelation 11:15). God chose not to become God incarnate in this manner. Instead God decided to work with men and women in order to accomplish God’s will. This is not a rare occurrence for God. Rather, it is the normal way God moves in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament and something we should think about.
A Cast of Characters
Matthew and Luke both tell the story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The main character (on the human side of the equation) is Mary in both Matthew and Luke’s stories. The angel, Gabriel, appeared to this young girl who lived in a small, remote village called Nazareth and told her she was favored by God. Mary learned that she would bear God’s son and be called the Mother of God. God took a risk and chose an “unknown” for the leading part in the story of God’s son. The story might have been much shorter and had a different ending, if it wasn’t for Joseph, who was another “unknown.” Joseph, protected Mary from the judgment of society. He saved Jesus from Herod’s wrath by escaping to Egypt and he served as Jesus’ earthly father.
Matthew and Luke provide a host of supporting actors in their stories. There’s Elizabeth, a relative of Mary and wife of Zechariah the priest. In their old age, the couple had a son, John, who would be known as John the Baptist. John was that voice crying in the wilderness and preparing the way of the Lord. There were also the shepherds who became the first evangelists. Later the magi entered the story and foreshadowed the truth that the birth of the Christ Child was for the entire world and not just a select few.
Impacting Our Lives Today
There would not be the Christmas Story without people. This is an important truth to ponder, because today we continue the Christmas Story. God has made us partners in the spreading of God’s kingdom. We are the people who repeat the good news that, “On that day in the City of David, a savior was born who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:14). We are the people who carry on Jesus’ ministry of sharing God’s love and grace with others. We are also the ones who seek justice and love mercy.
We gather around the manger with Jesus, Mary and Joseph in awe at what has happened. We are also excited that we have been cast as actors in this story just like Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah and John. Through us, the story continues.