Pastor Vince gave a many faceted message this week, drawing upon the nativity accounts. He noted that the coming gift of the Messiah was Tardis-like as “the gift within you is bigger than you.” How true! John has written that if he recorded all that the Logos had done, the world could not hold all that would be written. So too, is the power and grandeur of Christ so much more than we are able to individually contain.
While I will not attempt to touch on all that the pastor spoke of, I will pick on some important points. The first of these is that the nativity story is both a sign and a fulfillment. The prophets had told the world of the coming, but when Jesus arrived He brought us a life changing gift, and then additionally gives an example or “sign” of how to live that life.
Both Mary and Joseph are examples of that life and attitude, and models for us to follow. Mary is greeted by Gabriel and told that she was to give birth to the Son of God. Talk about life changing! First of all let’s look at the consequences. Even in our liberal 21st Century environment there will be those that raise an eyebrow at “unwed mothers.” In Mary’s day, however, it could be a death sentence. Yet, she does not refuse, but merely questions: “How can this be, as I am a virgin?” When it is explained to her she immediately shows obedience.
This is not to say that she was asked for permission. God, is in control, we are not. But nonetheless, she freely consented anyway, despite all she could potentially lose. Here again possibly even her life, but most definitely her relationship with Joseph. It is obvious that he saw her as an adulteress, as he immediately considers “putting her away (divorce in our modern context).” Yet, he even in this shows us an example of understanding and compassion. He would rather “quietly” deal with it rather than “make it public.” Isn’t that what Matthew 18:15 teaches?
But even in this sense of being the recipient of injustice, Joseph remains open to the guidance of God. He was righteous but still felt hurt, and sought to divorce her, but when the truth is revealed to him by the angel, he freely accepts her as his wife. He is prepared to be step-father, thus legitimising Mary and Jesus. It is even today, not every man who would do so, but in that time a true mark of devotion.
Further scriptures imply that Joseph treated Jesus as his own. He taught Him his trade, and diligently sought Him when He had gone to the Temple at age 12.
We are the recipients of the gift of salvation, but also to the gift of a new teaching. A teaching expressed throughout the Gospels in the words of Jesus, but also in the examples and models of His mother and step-father. These gifts are bigger than we are individually. How wonderful that the scriptures say that together, we each bearing our own measure, become corporately “the body of Christ.” Together let us share the gift!