This Christmas season, we have been looking at a series of messages at the church where I serve as pastor called “The Promises of Christmas.” Throughout the Bible, one can see many different places where God made promises to people. As we close this series, we will look at one final promise that God made. The special thing about this promise is that it applies to us. It may have been first told to Joseph, but the implications of this promise fall to every human being.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”
A Man Known as a Joseph
Joseph was a known to be a good, upstanding man who was hard-working and honest. He was also a man in love. He was betrothed to a young lady named Mary. He was ready to spend the rest of his life with this young lady, but there was one problem: she was pregnant and the child was not his. Joseph shows his character by not wanting to disgrace Mary, but he couldn’t stay with her.
“But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “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.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).”
An angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream with a message. The angel explained that the child inside Mary’s womb was from God… He was in fact the Son of God… the promised Messiah.
This is good news. This is the same good news that an angel would deliver to the shepherds in the Bethlehem pastures in Luke 2:10 – And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
How does Christmas bring joy?
In a day where so many people break their promises, it is good to know that God is not that way. He promised way back in the Garden of Eden that He would send a Savior.
It would be easy for the holy God of the universe to turn away and run in the opposite direction from the creation that was tainted with sin. He would be no less holy if He did so. In spite of our impure state, the holy God of the universe chose to come near His prized creation in their time of most need. He did not send someone or something else to handle our situation. He chose to come Himself.
I don’t know what you were wishing to be under the Christmas tree, but I do know what each of us needed (hope, forgiveness, power over sin and the grave). Jesus’ brought all of that when He came that first Christmas morning.
For while the picture of the baby in the manger warms our hearts, that baby would grow up and take our place on an old rugged cross. He would hang there suffering for our sins, and doing so because He loved us so much. If that weren’t enough, He would defeat the grave three days later. Talk about a Christmas present!
That first Christmas morning, God was not worried about bringing us new toys or the latest gadgets. He was concerned most in giving us what we needed: true joy. Joy is a happiness that springs from the depths of our hearts. It is not found in any department store or online. It is only found in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
That joy is available to you today. If you have never trusted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you can do that today. That would be the best Christmas present you could ever receive.
If you have received that gift of grace, my prayer is that you are reminded of just how great that gift is. May it continue to bring you joy each and every day.
We have joy unspeakable given to us because Jesus conquered the grave, but He never would have if there was never a cross for Him to bear… and there would be no cross if there was not first a manger.