The Christmas Story has taken on a new perspective for me this year. I never gave much thought, before now, to the purpose God created in the details of making Mary, a young inexperienced teenager, and Joseph, a simple, follow the rules kind of guy, the earthly parents of the Savior of the world. I guess if the truth were told most of us don’t, we hear the story from Linus and we kind of think of Mary and Joseph as some form of superhero. The “Ones” God chose, but they were human, like you and me, with sin and doubt.
God NEVER makes any mistakes. When He chose Mary and Joseph to be the earthly parents to His son, it was on purpose and for a purpose. That purpose, I believe was not only to show us what parenting looks like when God chooses you to be a parent, but what it looks like against the world’s view.
When Gabriel told Mary she would be a mother before she was married, before she had sexual-relations with a man, she wondered how, he explained. Luke 1 says she was greatly troubled, yet, submitted herself to the authority and sovereignty of God. She acted in faith to obedience to God. She knew what it would mean to be pregnant before her wedding day. She knew the sneers, the sideways looks, the whispers, the rumors would hurt her family and her reputation. She knew this is how she would be referred to in the future as, “the one who couldn’t wait.” Yet she told Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s slave, may it be done to me according to your word.” Mary bound herself to the will of God despite what it would cost her. The disgrace, the stigma, the scandal, paled ultimately to her choice to obey God’s will.
Then there is Joseph, the baby’s daddy. A man’s reputation is extremely important to men. (Not being a man I can only speak from what I have been told and what I have observed, I am certain I will be swiftly corrected if I misspeak.) Joseph being a good man did not want to humiliate Mary, so he decided that he would quietly leave her, thereby saving his reputation but not harming her so much. God in his divine wisdom created an opportunity through an angel to mentor Joseph and explain His plan to the young man. Ultimately, Joseph choose to continue in the plan God willed for him despite experiencing the same shame it would bring Mary.
For Joseph, to choose to stand up to the cultural norms of his day, take on the shame that would have been Mary’s to bear alone, and NOT blame her is a reflection of a man who was sold out to God. He chose to see what was going on from God’s perspective and to protect the gift God had given him rather than discard it. He chose to respond to God’s will in the manner God desired regardless of the lasting ramifications to his future. We celebrate his choices now, but when he lived, he was not celebrated. This is the daddy God calls men to be.
For Mary, the role God was calling her to was much more valuable to her than her own comfort, it was more important to her than what others said about her. But I guess that is why God chose her to do what he called her to do, because he knew she would bind herself to the will of God. Mary died to herself to accept what God asked her to do; be looked down upon, and to be labeled with names that were not true. Can I in all circumstances align myself with God’s truth and His will, despite what it may “cost” me in the world’s view? As a mom, this is what I want to emulate, and it is hard.
I believe this is what God wants all parents to do. Our future, our legacy, the future of the church, and our world lies in our willingness as parents to be representative of the call to parenting Mary and Joseph epitomized. They both could have chosen to say, no. I am so glad they didn’t.