|The Nativity –by Lisa Marie Phillips (Part 1)|
by–Lisa Marie Phillips
Let’s begin the story of Christmas where John began it. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1) Jesus was here long before He was born. He was here when the earth was without form and void. He helped create earth and the heavens. With God the Father, He watched people make and break covenants with God. He and the Father knew that something would have to be done.
God as in the days of Elijah came once again in the form of a whisper. “The Lord said, �go out and stand on the mountains in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (1Kings 19:11-12).
Jesus could have come down heralded by a thousand trumpets with choirs of angels loud enough to let the whole world know He was coming. He could have caused earthquakes and storms to bring everyone’s attention to Him. But instead He came in a whisper. In the form of a little bitty baby, in a stable in an obscure village.
For four hundred years God’s voice had been silent to the people of Israel. They knew about Christ. He had been talked about forever. The prophets had foretold of His coming over and over, even told when it was going to happen and where. Yet no one was there to greet Him.
Joseph and Mary were a young couple in love. They had been betrothed to each other. They had dreams and plans for the wedding day. Joseph worked hard and had established a reputation as a carpenter in Nazareth. They were raised to believe that everything was possible. They were after all God’s chosen People. Not only that but even among those they were special because they were of the house of Judah, the line of David. Everyone knew that the Messiah would come from that line. According to Jewish tradition and law a couple was engaged often when the couple were children. It was usually set up by parents of a professional match-maker. Much of the time it was made without them even seeing each other. Then there was the betrothal. At this time the engagement could be broken if the girl did not want to go through with it. But once they entered into the betrothal it was binding. The betrothal lasted for a year. They were known as husband and wife but did not have the same rights. The only way Joseph could have ended the betrothal was through divorce. At the end of that year they were to be married.
Mary was a young girl. She was probably in her early teens. She knew about the prophesies of the messiah. Isaiah had foretold of a virgin birth “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel: (Is 7:14) It is probable that as a very young girl she had even dreamed about maybe being that virgin. But when Gabriel did come to her she had to be afraid. After all angels came only to the dying. She was confused when Gabriel said “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:29) He spoke again to reassure her “Do not be afraid, Mary. For you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call his name Jesus.” (Luke 1:30-31) Then he went on to explain he would be the king of Israel forever. Wow! That had to be overwhelming to Mary. She was just about to become the wife of a carpenter, and now she was going to be the Messiah’s mother. And it had to be a bit confusing because she had never slept with a man. “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34) Now the angel was telling her that she was the virgin that Isaiah had talked about. Surely this could not be true. So Gabriel went on to tell Mary about her cousin Elizabeth, who was also with child. Now Mary had to have been thinking this guy was nuts. Her cousin was well along in years and so was her husband Zechariah. So Gabriel reminded her that nothing was impossible. (Luke 1:37) Wow! No woman had ever been offered such an awesome privilege. She had to be afraid and yet excited too. She made her decision. “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) Now that took a lot of courage for her to commit to. She had to have thought about it. It had to be a tough decision. There must have been a thousand things going through her mind. She had to have been worried about what was going to happen to her after she made that commitment. She knew that it would be a total commitment and one that she would not be able to get out of. But she committed anyhow. She was truly blessed. Her heart had to have been filled with joy and wonder at such an awesome privilege. Yet that blessing would be the sword that would pierce her heart. Someday she would see her Son hanging on a cross. Being chosen by God often means both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. That job God chooses a person for, takes a total commitment; head, heart and soul.
Elizabeth was 6 months along in her pregnancy when Gabriel appeared to Mary. It was a custom at that time for a pregnant female to be surrounded by her female relatives and friends in the last stages of her pregnancy. So Mary went to visit her. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed in a loud cry �Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:41-42) Mary and Elizabeth spent some time together. So by the time Mary arrived back in Nazareth she was about 3 months pregnant. It would not be long before Joseph noticed Mary’s physical change. When Mary’s pregnancy became obvious to him, he knew that it was not his child. He had two options. He could publicly have Mary stoned to death for adultery (Deut 22:23-24) or quietly divorce her. (Deut 22:25-27; 24:1-4) He was considering these options when an angel visited him. Once again the angel started out with do not be afraid. He told Joseph “to take Mary as your wife; for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins.” (Matt 1:20-21)
©copyright 2000 Lisa Marie Phillips
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