Mary and Joseph

On a small island off the coast of india, the dragons and the elephants had been feuding for many, many years. Presently, as their numbers had been signifficantly diminished by the feud, the dragons petitioned for peace. As is the custom in their land, the dragons and the elephants had to seal the treaty by exchanging peace children. Each race would send one of their young to be raised by the other. Unwilling to ask such a sacrifice of any of her people, the queen of the elephants determined that she would send one of her own to live with the dragons. But before she would hand over the child, the queen insisted on choosing the parents who would raise her child. The dragon king was a kind and wise fellow, but his children were unruly. The treasurer was intelligent and a good provider, but his children were cold and greedy. The priest was an upright creature, but he was so strict with his hatchlings that it bordered on abuse. In the end, the queen chose a young, hard-working couple- an ordinary cave-digger and his wife.

Let's pause for a moment to review what we've learned in this series.

Looking at Israel, we saw how the Messiah is God's gift to the world.

As we studied the temple, we learned of Messiah's role as arbiter betwixt God and Man.

The Hebrew Holy Days established His future history.

The prophets told of His roles as king and sacrifice.

The angels showed us that He is the centerpiece of history.

The magi showed us that Jesus' role as king, God and sacrifice are meant not only for the jews but the entire world.

The shepherds demonstrate that Christ was meant for the common man.

Since Jesus is pretty much the only human being who pre-existed His own birth, we can learn what traits He prizes by examining the people He chose to be born to.

Mary had three strikes against her. She was young, she was poor and she was female. A person of her gender, age and wealth would have been just about worthless in Jewish society. Yet she was far from worthles in God's eyes.

Now we do not hold to the notion that Mary was sinless. The bible does not say that she was, and such an idea flies in the face of scripture. Mary was a normal human, and if it were possible for a normal human to be sinless, there would be no reason for Jesus to become our sacrifice, as an acceptable sacrifice already existed. Not that we know what sins Mary may have committed. The bible has to reason to gossip or slander our faithful sister. Now I'm sure that I'm offending some old-school catholics with these words, but the bible never says that Mary is sinless or inherrently holy. She is not the queen of Heaven. Jesus never even called her "Mother". But this does not mean that she should not be honored. Certainly she should be, and here is why...

When Zecharias, father of John the Baptist, was visited by Gabriel, he responded with disbelief. For his incredulity, he was struck mute. Mary believed what God had told her through Gabriel, despite a brief moment of doubt caused by sheer amazement. Her belief should be honored. Remember what is said of Abraham in Genesis 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Consider those mentioned in Hebrews 11 who were justified by their belief in God. Abel (4) Enoch (5) Noah (7) Isaac (20) Jacob (21) Joseph (22) Jochabed (23) Moses (24) Rahab (31) Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, samuel... (32)

And like her predecessors, Mary did more than merely believe intellectually. She OBEYED God. She responded "may it be to me as you have said." She even calls herself the Lord's servant. The word she used here, I should point out, is "dulos". This is not merely a maidservant or hebrew-style slave. This refers to the kind of slavery that existed in pre-civil-war America. Mary is declaring that she is completely owned by God, abdicating any rights of her own.

THIS is the source of Mary's holiness.

Now what about Joseph?

Most nativities, especially older ones, depict Joseph as an old man with a long, white beard. There really is no reason to believe that Joseph was old. He was strong (as a carpenter), verile (he had at least six other kids) and was about to get married.

An interview with Jonathan paints Joseph as a bitter, crass, grumpy man, but I strongly suspect that this was merely a reaction to Jonathan's very irritating manner. From the text of Luke (whom I expect was far less anoying) we learn that Joseph was a just and upright man with a healthy respect for God's law. When he learned that his fiance was pregnant, the natural assumption was that she'd been cheating on him. For her perceived infidelity, Joseph planned to divorce her.

Yet Joseph's justness was tempered with compassion. He did not wish to humiliate or endanger Mary, despite the immense pain which he must have been feeling at that point.

He was obedient and faithful, for when the angel told him to go ahead and take Mary as his wife, he did so without hesitation.

He was a man of great self-control. For many long months, he obeyed the command to abstain from sex with his wife even though it could have been considered his perogative to make love to his bride.

And of course, he did once the time was right. Despite a young death, Joseph and Mary had a minimum of six other children. These other children are a testimony to Mary and Joseph. After all, how many good parents had horrible children? David did. Solomon did. Eli did. Samuel, Aaron... they were all good peaople with nasty children. Yet not only did Mary and Joseph's children turn out okay, two of them wrote parts of the bible.

Mary and Joseph loved each other and their children very much. Joseph could have easily brought money into the house by farming his children out to be apprenticed by others. Instead, he taught them his own trade. Mary could frequently be seen travelling with and surrounded by her children.

This is the kind of person Jesus chose to be His family. Loving, compassionate, affectionate, stern yet kind, but above all, obedient and faithful.

Do you have what it takes to be part of Jesus' family? If you have faith enough to believe that He died to atone for your sins and obedience enough to confess Him as Lord, then the answer is a resounding "yes!"

John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
If you believe in Jesus and have confessed Him as Lord, you are already part of His family. If not, you can be right now.

Pastor Oren Otter
December 10, 2005
December 8, 2007