"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
The Christmas Story Retold: The Perspective of The King’s Expecting Parents!
Many of us by now have heard the Christmas story and how the Savior of the world was born as a flesh man (but also God) and came to die for our sins, to be placed in a tomb, but also rise on the third day, forever erasing the debts of our transgressions if only we have faith in Him and ask for it. However, tonight on Christmas Eve, as I sit in a very different environment at my job, where many individuals I come into contact with are not as fortunate, I look at Christmas in a very different light. We take this wonderful occasion to celebrate the coming of our Christ Jesus for granted many times and in many ways in the United States. It has gotten to the point where everything that used to be about a time centered around focusing on God, is now an opportunity for companies to commercialize the season. Let us place ourselves in the shoes of the individuals involved in the Christmas story for a moment and think about how the events leading up to, during, and after the birth of our Lord and Savior must have felt. Let us examine what they were thinking, the questions they must have pondered, and the concerns that they would have had in a situation such as theirs.
Luke 1:26-38 (NKJV)
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; [a]blessed are you among women!”
29 But [b]when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I [c]do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Luke 2:1-20 (NKJV)
2 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed [a]wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a [b]manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And [c]behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a [d]manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill[e] toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made [f]widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Matthew 1:18-25 (NKJV)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being [a]a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is [b]conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name [c]Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and [d]did not know her till she had brought forth her[e] firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus
Here is a depiction of what I could imagine the experience being like for each individual:
Mary (Jesus’ Mother):
Mary is pledged to be wed to Joseph in just a short while and is suddenly visited by an angel. He tells her that she is “highly favored” and that the “Lord is with you.” However, Gabriel the angel goes on to tell her that, “she will conceive and have a son, but not just any son, but the Son of God Himself.” She has to be worried at this point. After all, she is human. What will her husband think? How does a woman conceive, but not take the action necessary to do so just by the Holy Spirit? Besides, Who is the Holy Spirit? What kind of ruler will this child be with no earthly father (which are very important and determine everything about a child when born in ancient Israel)? What will people think of a woman who has a child out of wedlock and can’t claim an earthly father? What will Joseph do once he finds out he has paid the bride price of a virgin, but does not receive a virgin? Why does Joseph not tell people the truth, is he ashamed of me and my circumstances? Regardless of the situation and circumstances Mary still says, “I am the Lord’s servant” and “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Later in chapter two I can imagine a whirlwind of thoughts and concerns on Mary’s mind as she goes into labor. “Why must we go back to my husband’s hometown just to pay taxes to a government I never asked for? What happens if I go into labor while I am away? Will there be enough money left for us to live with a newborn once Joseph pays these taxes? Is camel back riding really good for prenatal care? What if he takes me with him, but leaves me along the journey?
Just as she gets good into her worrying, her worst fears become reality: Mary goes into labor!
She must be wondering, “Where will we go? Who can possibly deliver my baby? Is there really no one you can kick out of their room and let me in? Why must I give birth in a livestock barn? Do I really have to lie down in the dirt to give birth? What will I do for pain? Can Joseph help deliver a baby? Can I curse this child’s father even if he is God? Why are all these shepherds and wise men showing up to see my child? If He is indeed the Son of Man, why does he attract all these weirdo’s and outcasts?”
Joseph (Earthly Father of Jesus):
As the future husband to a “expected” new virgin, Joseph finds himself subject to a king that he did not vote for, paying taxes to a ruler that he does not want, and even worse, having to travel across the country just to pay those taxes. To make matters worse, his newly expecting bride turns out not to be the virgin he paid the price for,
I can imagine him worrying about man stuff like, “who will work while we are gone to pay our bills? What will happen if my wife goes into labor while we are gone? What if the child doesn’t look like me and people start to ask questions? Should I even be dealing with this or should I just go and find a new bride who isn’t pregnant with a child that isn’t mine? What can she eat while we are traveling? Does she really need a baby stroller in the desert? Should I ask for her bride price back from her father to cover the cost of this baby? Can I really help deliver a baby? I’m making her come with me because the last time she left my sight, she wound up like this! Do pregnant women really have to complain so much when crossing the desert? How much is all this tax paying and baby going to really cost? If the baby comes first, do I get a tax exemption for it? What will this government do to me if this kid really is God in the flesh?”
Just like with Mary, when things are just starting to get Joseph worried, Mary goes into labor!
Joseph has to be concerned about how all this is going to work out. He must be wondering, “where will we go? Why is there no room available for a woman in labor? That hotel owner was just too cheap to buy new linens after we leave. Why would God come in the form of a baby that is helpless and needing to be cared for? How will a baby save people from their sin? If this child is God’s, why do I have to let my wife’s baby be born in a manger? I wish I could afford to buy a place for the night so she can be comfortable. What will she do for pain? Why us? Why now? Why here?”
There is one perspective we have left out though and I can only imagine that if God spoke to Mary and Joseph that night, he would have said something along these lines:
“Mary and Joseph, don’t fright, worry, or concern yourselves with man’s limitations and obstacles. The things you ask have already been taken care of. I have chosen you both for a reason. Mary, you are strong in faith and I have found your heart to be pure. Joseph, you are a faithful and loving husband, now father. My Son will be savior of the world. There is an assignment that must be accomplished that no man or spiritual being can stand between or interrupt. Because of this fact, there are those seeking you all who wish to destroy what I have set up for all of mankind. I will send you to a land far from home and unfamiliar to you so that all three of you will be safe. The Son of God will be born in a lowly manner, but in the most respectful way that the creator of man could ever be born, which is on the mud from where he was formed. You will be graced by the presence of all God’s creation, both man and beast and they will bow down before the Savior you will give birth to. Those chosen by me will hear of His coming and stop at nothing to see and worship the Savior. He will attract the outcast and downtrodden because it is they who will be “first in His Kingdom”! Don’t concern yourselves with the opinions of others because I have told you not to “lean on your own understanding.” Don’t worry about finances, because as the creator of all things, your needs I will provide. He will be born as the Son of God, only to die as the Son of Man, hung upon a tree. He will suffer for all man’s iniquities, but will firmly bear the weight of the world on his body by defeating hell and the grave. He will be born and laid in a humble manger, but He will return to sit upon the Throne of the Lord, to rule over all that He has sacrificed to save! For the baby you care for is not a mere baby, but the God of all creation! So, bear the cost and the burden of this promise, because whatever the cost, it is less than what you owe and surely less than what He will pay! Some will give, others will give more, but I have given “my only begotten son”!
Let us remember in this holiday season that what we celebrate and come together for is more than just a time of gathering in memory of a born baby, but the worship of the one true Lord and Savior: Christ Jesus!
You may be the humble parents who live in a residence no better than the nativity scenes surrounding many churches this time of year and you may be the wealthy couple who are highly blessed in the material things. Whatever your situation, know that it is a blessed one because of Who gave everything, so that we could celebrate this occasion in this season. Whatever our issues, whatever our burdens, they are insignificant compared that those Christ had to carry on the cross with Him at Calvary. God knows our concerns and He looks upon us with His awesome grace and mercy. Don’t live beneath your privilege, traveling a road destined for an eternity separated from God. Accept Christ as your true Lord and Savior today! Know what it means to truly celebrate the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the one true King by accepting His invitation this Christmas season!
John 3:16 (NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.