Advent Devotional: December 21
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
– Matthew 1:18-25
Jesus’ birth is much different from our experiences. Here a young woman was pregnant while engaged to marry, which in that day was considered adultery punishable by execution as a sin under the Mosaic law. Joseph had a right to divorce her, but how could he after an angel of God gave him a different plan? Joseph had the responsibility to divorce Mary but he heeded the angel’s instruction. What a remarkable situation for Mary and Joseph, planning a life together with a child on the way, and in the middle of this confusion, wow, an angel tells him it will be a boy named “God with us,” making them the first people to know that this birth was the beginning of salvation for God’s people. This was the fulfillment of God’s covenant with the Jewish people (Isaiah 7:14) 700 years prior, and he will save the world from their sins.
Imagine what this young man faced: his betrothed wife was pregnant with a child, conceived by the Holy Spirit; he was not to divorce her, which might be interpreted as guilt; the child was the fulfillment of ancient prophecies and would save mankind from their sins. This was a lot to have on his mind at such a young age.
The most significant event since the beginning of man is initiated with Jesus’ birth. John 1 tells us that Jesus was in the beginning and will be at the end with God the Father. And God became flesh in Jesus and dwelt among us. Why would God become human, be born as we were, and live in this world of pain and suffering, knowing that he would be rejected by the people he came to save, persecuted by the Jewish leaders, be executed and die bearing the sins of each one of us?
The answer is to provide eternal life with God for those who commit to God. Praise God!
As we approach this wonderful season filled with anticipation and commercialism, expect something wonderful to happen. Something wonderful has happened and continues to happen for those accepting and seeking God. Grace and peace have been given to us as a gift, the greatest gift we can imagine. Accept the gift and enjoy your life with God this Christmas Season.
Phil Daily, NorthPark member