Lessons From A Christmas Story

As we get ready to celebrate Christmas, my thoughts went to someone in the Christmas story that gets very little attention. Scripture speaks about Jesus and Mary but we hear so little about Joseph…the earthly father of Jesus.

In much of the study that has been done about Joseph, most researchers agree on several points. Here they are:

Most believe that Joseph died before Jesus began his public ministry. There are several portions of scripture that would point to this. First, Joseph isn’t mentioned being present at the Wedding in Cana where Jesus changed the water into wine. Yet Mary is mentioned.

Second, the story of the crucifixion provides some interesting details. Joseph is not present at the crucifixion while Mary is mentioned. At the crucifixion, Jesus instructed John to take care of Mary, which would be unusual if Joseph had still been alive. After the crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea takes the body of Jesus. This would ordinarily have been a task given to the father.

There is even another hint in scripture that would support the death of Joseph during the lifetime of Jesus. Luke 2:33-35 details a conversation Simeon had with Joseph and Mary. Even though both Joseph and Mary were present, Simeon simply addressed Mary. Simeon says this:

This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but He will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose Him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.

Simeon tells Mary that a sword will pierce your very soul but makes no mention of Joseph. It seems Simeon knew that Joseph would not be alive to see all that would happen to Jesus.

We don’t know for certain that Joseph was dead before Jesus public ministry but the evidence points to that.

Here’s what we do know about Joseph. First, he was alive and a part of the life of Jesus until Jesus was twelve years of age. Luke 2:41-42 speaks about Joseph and Mary attending the Holy Days with Jesus when he was twelve. You may recall that this was the time Mary and Joseph mistakenly left Jesus at the temple. This is the last mention in scripture about Joseph being with Jesus.

So what can we learn from the few verses in scripture that mention Joseph? Here are four things to think about:

God picked Joseph to model for Jesus what earthly fatherhood looked like: We know Joseph had at least twelve years to teach Jesus about life. We know Joseph spent time with Jesus training him to be a carpenter and teaching him about the spiritual issues in life. It is reasonable to believe that Joseph taught a young Jesus how to be a godly man.

Joseph cared about others more than he cared about himself: When Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant and he wasn’t the father, he certainly could have broken the engagement. In fact, in our world today there are many men who would do just that. Many of us would be upset by the news or just want to save face and end the relationship. We need to be realistic. If our fiancée came to us and said she was pregnant but the father was God that would be hard to believe.

Yet Joseph did believe Mary’s explanation and protected and cared for Mary and Jesus for the remainder of his life.

Joseph did remarkable work and received no recognition: Joseph spent years of his life serving as a faithful husband and father, scripture barely mentions him, and yet he faithfully served his family and the Son of God.

 Joseph believed what God told him and he obeyed: When the angel came to Joseph in the dream and told him it was fine to marry Mary he did it. Joseph obeyed when God told him to flee to Egypt to miss a confrontation with Herod. Joseph obeyed when God told him to return to Israel after the death of Herod.

We have many followers of Christ who either don’t listen when God speaks to them or they hear God but choose not to obey. Joseph listened and obeyed.

As you think about Christmas this year remember these four points. Also remember, that like Joseph, God has placed you where you are for a purpose. Don’t lose sight of God’s purpose for you. You have valuable work that only you can do…just like Joseph. If we could talk with Joseph I bet he wouldn’t regret a day of doing what God asked him to do.

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No Room At The Inn

https://vimeo.com/82470185

As Christmas quickly approaches everyone is busy.  It’s time for office Christmas parties, shopping, trips to visit relatives, and a variety of other things that give us little time to really think about the meaning of Christmas.

While thinking about all the appointments on my calendar, I was reminded of the story of the birth of Jesus found in the second chapter of Luke.  Specifically, I was drawn to verse seven that says this,

She [Mary] gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

Here is what I find amazing.  We are never told anything in the scriptures about how many places Mary and Joseph attempted to find a room. We don’t know anything about the innkeepers where Mary and Joseph tried to stay. We don’t know anything about where they finally stopped other than they must have been sent to a barn since Jesus was placed in a manger. By definition a manger is a trough or an open box in which feed for livestock is placed. The Bible never mentions anything about the accommodations for Jesus’ birth other than the fact that there was no lodging available for them.  Wouldn’t you love to know everything Mary and Joseph went through as they tried to find a place for Mary to give birth?

Although we don’t know the entire story, here are some things we can wonder about.  First, were all the innkeepers simply too busy to know that they had someone very special right in front of them?  The wise men knew it, many in the community knew it. But the innkeepers didn’t seem to have a clue. Had the innkeepers become focused on their own needs and profit to such a degree that they missed the tremendous gift right in front of them?

Second, could the simple story of the innkeepers be a model for us today?  Innkeepers so busy that they had no room for Jesus and could only push him to a stable that was out of mind and out of sight?

Perhaps this is a reminder to each of us during this Christmas season that the birth of Christ is a wonderful gift that we can easily forget and simply push aside.  Instead of allowing Christ into our busy lives we push Him to our stable. We give Him a place to stay where we really don’t have to think about Him but don’t give Him the proper place to stay.  We keep Him in the stable of our lives but never the main room.

So as Christmas quickly approaches, let me encourage you to make room for Christ in your life.  Don’t be an innkeeper too busy to give Jesus a place of priority in your life.  Instead, invite Jesus to relocate from the stable of your life to the main room…a place He is longing to be.

From all of us at Toccoa Falls College, Merry Christmas!