2021 Christmas is just around the corner. The past months have been days of loss, hopelessness, and sorrow. We have lost the lives of many dear and near ones. It is not possible for people to get together in the church to worship and adore the Lord. In the current scenario, one cannot step out without a mask. Nothing moves in this world without the permission of the Creator. then why did the Lord permit such a pandemic to take place?? Can we all try to change and transform ourselves as a sign of adoration and praise for the Lord who kept us all safe till this Christmas??? Let us all introspect and question ourselves to transform from within. May this be our way of worship to the Lord before the start of the New Year.
Taking the Bible as our foundation let’s observe certain things:
- Faith: Zechariah-Elizabeth were a childless couple. Having grown old they lost hope. Luke 1:8-11, 8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. The angel of the Lord appeared before Zechariah and told him that he will have a child. Even though a priest in the service of the Lord, Zechariah had doubt. He asks the angel how can it be possible. Luke 1: 18-20, 18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” His doubt made the angel Gabriel silence his tongue till the child was born.
After nearly six months, angel Gabriel appeared before a virgin in Nazareth, a town in Galilee, pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. She was surprised at the visit. The angel of the Lord said, Luke 1:30-31, But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. Mary had only one doubt that how could she as a virgin bear a child. the angel replied,
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. So it was done.
On the other hand, when Jospeh came to know that Mary was pregnant he decided to abandon her anonymously. He received a vision in his dreams. Mathew 1:20-21, 20 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. 21 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.” Joseph believed the words of the angel and accepted Mary as his wife. The birth of the Saviour through a virgin was foretold in Isaiah 7:14, 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. This came true.
The angel of the Lord came to another group. Luke 2:8-18, 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
The uneducated and poor shepherds believed and trusted the word of the angels. They followed the sign of the star and reached the Saviour. They saw and returned back home.
2. Obedience: A simple virgin girl submitted herself completely to the will of the Lord. She had only been betrothed. She did not discuss or even mention the dangers she would have to face when her pregnancy (outside marriage) would become known. She believed the words of affirmation from the angel, Luke 1:37-38, 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. 2000 Years have passed since. Even today world over people call her blessed among women to have received this grace to be the mother of the Saviour of the World. She too affirms, Luke 1:48, for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,…Yes, till the world stands she will be called upon as blessed among women.
3. The hard-hearted innkeeper: In those times, Augustus issued a decree that all Jews need to register themselves for Census in Bethlehem. Joseph went to Bethlehem with his fully pregnant wife, Mary. Due to the rush, they could not find any room in the inns. Joseph was a skilled carpenter. this proved to be a boon to them. He created suitable conditions for Mary in a nearby manger. One historian has gone far to say that when Jesus was born He shone like a sun and all animals kept silent seeing Him. Mary gave birth to Jesus in a humble manger.
Before this, we know that a fully pregnant Mary went with Joseph looking for a room at the inn. It was not a time with comfortable traveling means like we have today. The innkeeper felt no compassion or empathy even after seeing the fully pregnant young girl. The hard-hearted innkeeper is actually symbolic of each one of us. How easy it is for us to judge others. Joseph and Mary were not rich. They came from humble backgrounds. It would be good if we pause and think what would we have done in place of the innkeeper. Today it is most common to find people taking bribes to get things done. Compassion, mercy, and love are all things of the past now. He must have thought that giving a room to a full-time pregnant girl would lead to hassles. He let the opportunity to serve the Saviour in his inn go waste. Many times, we too let such opportunities to serve the Lord slip out of our hands. Think.
Angel Gabriel first appeared before the priest Zechariah. Even though he had prayed earnestly for a child for many years. He did not believe the angel when he was told he would be blessed with a son. Though temporarily, he was punished for his lack of faith. He was dumb till the birth of John who laid the way for Christ. When he was blessed with the biggest gift he appeared as a dumb person before his wife Elizabeth. The husband who should have been the source of strength and comfort during her pregnancy in old age had lost the power to speak. Just imagine the situation.
Joseph and Mary were young inexperienced people. Angel Gabriel appeared before Mary and told her she would give birth to Jesus. She believed and obeyed. Young Joseph too received a vision that the virgin Mary was blessed with Holy Spirit and would give birth to the Saviour. He too believed and obeyed. He married Mary. Mary’s faith and obedience led her to become the mother of the Saviour. Joseph’s faith and obedience led him to be known as the foster father of the Son of God. These two people are the role models for us to understand how one should be to become the instrument of God.
Joseph and Mary received the grace of God. What would be our reaction if the Lord chose us for His plan?? Would he be able to fulfill His plans through us?? If in doubt, pray with faith to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Think what are the obstacles. pray for them to be removed. May this Christmas we all become instruments of God.