Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
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 name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
And Mary said, “Behold, the maidservant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)
At this time of the year when we remember the birth of the blessed Christ child, let us also honor His courageous parents, Joseph and Mary.
Mary has been admired universally above all women. She was truly remarkable. Sovereignly chosen by God to bear the Christ child, from among all of the women who had ever been born, she was the one who brought our Redeemer, the Messiah into the world.
Mary’s blessings and graces were given to her by God. She was an ordinary human being, like us. And yet, she showed her strong faith in God, by trusting Him with whatever He chose for her. We can look up to her for that.
We don’t know very much about Mary’s upbringing. We know that she had a sister, Salome, who was the mother of Jesus’ disciples, James and John. Of course, we also know that Mary was related to Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. Besides this, we only know that she grew up in Nazareth as the daughter of a poor but hardworking family.
At the time of the Annunciation, Mary was probably a teenager. Back in that day, girls were often betrothed at age thirteen. Her marriage was probably arranged by the parents of Joseph, her prospective bridegroom. Joseph was a carpenter. He was also a godly and righteous man.
And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)
We do not know very much about Joseph’s background. In the Scriptures Joseph shows what a godly man he was by his actions. Mary must have known what could happen to her when Joseph found out that she was pregnant. She knew that the horror of public scandal might await her. But she trusted God to take care of her. She surrendered herself unconditionally saying, “Behold, the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) Mary did not doubt or question God. She just immediately, humbly, and joyfully submitted to God’s will. Joseph also submitted to God’s will and took Mary to be his wife.
Mary willingly followed Joseph to Bethlehem when it was time for them to enroll in a mandatory census. They knew that God was watching over this holy family.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a stable. It is a famous story; there was no room at the inn and so Joseph took what shelter was available to him and trusted God to protect his family. A beautiful star appeared in the East. Angels in the skies sang the praises of the newborn King.
Wise men and shepherds visited Jesus with much rejoicing.
However, there was one person who was not happy about the birth of the Savior – King Herod. Herod was intensely jealous and sensed a threat to his throne. He sent the wise men to find out exactly where Jesus was supposedly so that he could worship Jesus. Of course he was lying. The wise men were warned in a dream not to return to Herod. Herod was angry when they did not return and sent soldiers to slay every male child in the vicinity of Bethlehem who was two years old and younger.
Joseph again trusted God to help him take care of this family.
When the magi had gone, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was till night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. (Matthew 2:13,14)
After Herod died Joseph took Mary and Jesus back to Israel. An equally evil king was ruling in Judea so Joseph didn’t dare take the family there. They settled in Nazareth instead where their Son Jesus, entrusted to them by God, “continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40).
They clearly had received grace from God for this. They were ordinary people who had been given extraordinary blessings by God.
They had great faith that we should emulate, but let us be careful not to give them the adulation that only belongs to God. They were very humble and would not want anyone to venerate them as some do today. They would point us to Christ. Christ was the object of their worship. Jesus is the One we adore. He is the only One to recognize as Lord and Savior. All of their lives the parents of Jesus directed us to loving God and praising Him for His many blessings to us.
May we all remember the true meaning of the Christmas season. God bless you every one!