This is the time of year when we display our Nativity sets, and it's common to see depictions on the front of Christmas cards that have Mary and Joseph in a stable with the Baby Jesus lying in a feeding trough, commonly referred to as a manger.
The word "nativity" comes from the Latin term, which simply means "born." Technically, we've all experienced a nativity, but in today's world the term is primarily used in connection with the birth of Jesus Christ the Redeemer. We also hear the word incarnation at this time of year. Within the Christian faith, this is referring to the Son of God and how he miraculously came down from heaven and took on the human form of a man for the purpose of saving us from our sin. He is Emmanuel, which means "God with us" as his mission was to rescue and restore us. Because of his sacrifice, we can now have an eternal relationship with him.
There are several interesting details about the earthly parents of Jesus. His mother Mary becoming pregnant with him while still being a virgin is a great place to begin. Our heavenly Father sent his Son Jesus to Earth, but as we know, Jesus also had an earthly dad by the name of Joseph. History reveals it was common in those days for an older man to be engaged to a younger woman. Many scholars are convinced that Mary was much younger than Joseph, probably being in her early teens.
Being betrothed means the couple were to be celibate until they were married. When Joseph discovered she was pregnant, he did not want to publicly disgrace her but rather decided to just privately cancel the marriage. We can only imagine the agony and disappointment he was feeling as he realized she had been unfaithful.
As he was making plans to deal with the situation, an angel appeared to him in a dream saying, "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, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:20-21).
We know that Mary is adored, and rightfully so, but we must consider this was also a huge step of faith for Joseph — and he is seldom given the respect he deserves. There is not much information given about Joseph except that he was a carpenter and an honest man who upheld the law. He was present when Jesus was found teaching in the temple at 12 years old, but it's presumed he had passed away by the time Christ was crucified as Jesus asked John from the cross to take care of his mother.
We've all seen the images of Mary riding a donkey into Bethlehem. As the Scriptures reveal, they were on their way to register with the tax collectors. When they arrived, Mary immediately needed to find a place to deliver the baby. Luke chapter 2 describes the scene: "And Joseph went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be taxed with Mary his promised wife, being great with child. And so, it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."
Imagine a young girl being approached by the Creator of heaven and Earth, and given a mission that would shape the course of human history. Agreeing to give birth to the Savior of the world? Why did God choose her for the task of raising the King of kings? Because he knew she would hold strong in her faith.
What about those today who still declare they have no room for Jesus or the individuals who only celebrate the most significant event of all time at the Christmas season? He is patiently waiting.
Never before or since have the heavens declared the glory of God with more hope and excitement than when the Lamb of God was born and willingly gave his life as a ransom for all who would believe in him.
Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com.