It is a violent time, one of suffocating poverty and intense suffering. A nation’s identity and economic vitality has been subverted for the needs of the superpower that has conquered it. To be Jewish and living under the rule of the Roman Empire is to experience hardship beyond our comprehension, it is a most dangerous time to be alive. It is even more precarious to be born into this deeply sorrowful period. The birthrate is extremely low and many babies do not survive the birth, those who do face sickness, poverty and the unsure future of a subjugated nation.
Into this harsh, oppressed era, the Father allows the Savior to be born. The hope for the world is born into a seemingly hopeless situation. To human eyes it makes no sense for God to arrange such an event in such a wasteland of human misery. Our heavenly Father uses this impossible scenario to prove that with Him, all things are indeed possible. A lost world, a lost people will experience the unfeasible, a God infusion of himself into our world.
I think of Joseph, the man God picks to be “step-dad” for Jesus. I imagine the pressure he was under, the decisions he had to make. Should he remain bound to his betrothal contract? A marriage agreement, specifically Writings of Betrothal could only be broken by divorce. Ordinarily the marriage itself would take place a year or so after betrothal. Joseph must have been crushed to find out about Mary’s pregnancy, perhaps even angry. Talk about an impossible circumstance! A decision to stay committed to Mary could isolate him from his family and a decision to divorce could separate him from the very will of God. To help him make this critical decision he has the hard, solid evidence of a of an angel talking to him in a dream. I can envision the questions. Can it be true, that this child will be the salvation of the world? Who was he, a simple carpenter to be entrusted with the raising of such a child?
The Bible calls him a “just man” so his faith enables Joseph to believe in the impossible, an angel in a dream talking to him about the Father’s heart. When the acceptance of God’s will falls in place in his life, he is stretched again. He is forced by the occupying government to take his very pregnant wife and travel to his birthplace to be counted in a census. There is no guarantee of safety during the journey and for the birth of his child when they arrive. There is so much beyond Joseph’s control, his trust in God must have been great. Each step of their passage is a statement of belief in the Father’s faithfulness. Mary and Joseph are given completely to their “call”, there is no where to go but ahead. They choose to believe what the angel says to Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). The security of man-made provision is nowhere to be found when they ride into Bethlehem and the Lord is born in little more than a cave. Mingled with the smell of barn animals, the sweetness of the Messiah’s birth fills the air.
Humble shepherds come, guided by more angels. Exotic visitors come guided by a star. They supply gifts way beyond the means of the first time parents. These very gifts may have been the supply that Joseph needed to move his family into Egypt when the threat of death reached out for his son. Another dream, another angel, but this time it is a warning and they are on the move again. An impossible time, an impossible pregnancy , an impossible marriage situation, an impossible rescue; only so through the eyes of man. Through the Father’s eyes, a vision of hope birthed to redeem the impossible (us) to Him. For God it wasn’t an impossible time for the Lord to be born …it was the perfect time. He can take us from any land, any condition, and any difficulty and bring us into His kingdom. That is the gift of Christmas, hope. In Him a weary world rejoices, for our souls had felt their worth. Have a Merry Christmas!
It came without ribbons, It came without tags, It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Christmas can't be bought from a store... Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.