Another Advent season is upon us, and a chance once again to contemplate Christ’s incarnation. We love to hear the story of Luke 2 with all its characters. Each person in the cast seemed to play an important role in Jesus’ birth. Mary became the mother of God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, gave the eternal Jesus His earthly life. Angels appeared in the heavens and gave Jesus a choral symphony. Shepherds left their flocks by night and gave Jesus their worship and praise. Wise Men travelled from afar and gave Jesus precious gifts. Yet there is one other important character in the Christmas story: Joseph. What did he give to Jesus?
You can find Joseph’s story in Matthew 1:18-25. Once he discovered that his virgin fiancé had become pregnant with someone else’s baby, Joseph, “being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” That seemed like both a just and compassionate solution.
God, however, had different plans. He sent an angel to Joseph with this message:
“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Joseph hadn’t sign up for any of this. Unlike Mary, who was already fully committed because the infant Jesus was growing in her womb, Joseph could have declined God’s offer. He could have simply dismissed God’s direction and walked away. Who would blame him if he had? This plan of God’s was rather unconventional and awfully messy.
In a moment of crisis, Joseph decided to trust God and take the more difficult path. “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
What did Joseph give to Jesus? Joseph’s gift was obedience. He did what the Lord had commanded him. In comparison to an angel choir or foreign emissaries bearing expensive bling, simple obedience might not seem like much of a gift, but to Jesus, it is a true treasure indeed.
Jesus encourages us this way: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”John 15:9-11
Notice that Jesus doesn’t promise us the easy way or the most convenient path. Sometimes following Jesus can get awfully messy. What Jesus does promise us, however, is joy. When we abide in God’s love, we are filled with an overwhelming, godly joy.
God’s love for us takes on flesh at Christmas. He sent His Son to be born and live among us. Jesus offered His life in payment for our sins, and then rose from the dead to give us eternal life. This is the treasure of the Gospel: Christ has reconciled us to our Heavenly Father through His perfect life, death, and resurrection. What’s more, this wonderful treasure is given to us as a free gift. We are God’s graced children! There is no better way to show our love and gratitude than through our obedience to His Word. It is our faith and obedience that God treasures most.
So what will you give Jesus this Christmas? Why not give Him Joseph’s gift! “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:2-3
|Christmas Faith and Obedience (based on the 10 Commandments)
1. Keep God at the center of all your Christmas activities.
2. Praise God’s Name with the angel choir through glorious Christmas music.
3. Worship like the shepherds each Sunday in Advent and on Christmas Eve/Day.
4. Spend time with your parents and others who have invested in your life.
5. Give a word of encouragement to someone who needs it.
6. Like Joseph, show love and affection to your spouse.
7. Be a “wise man” and give gifts to the needy.
8. Speak the truth in love when handling conflict.
9.&10. Don’t keep up with Joneses! Keep your Christmas simple and beautiful.