“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,” which translated means “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7b)
God the Father prepares Joseph, His final vessel for the preparation for the arrival of His Son, through a bit of a hidden twist: working in human limitations and through the stripping of human securities.
Joseph had good hopes and dreams – no doubt inspired from years of parental guidance to plan to be successful as “head of his home” and known within the city gates. His carpentry business would be the means to provide for his home and betrothed one. Together they would settle in their own home, have children, worship Yahweh and continue to hope for the Messiah. He was known around the Jewish villages; he was from the royal line of David. If he worked hard, there were no limitations to what he could accomplish in his new life with Mary.
Alas, his fiancée reveals her mysterious secret—she is with child. In one brief moment, his future appeared to be in crumbles in an upside-down world! Would he risk a future ruined by the talk, scorn, blame, and persecution (if not death) that would come as this news took root within the neighborhood and temple? Scripture tells us he struggled with this: “Joseph, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to send her away secretly” (Matthew 1:19). Surely God had made a mistake. Do you suppose Joseph thought he had grieved Yahweh to deserve such dreadful news?
But we know the rest of the story! As Joseph was considering his crisis, an angel of the Lord paid a visit: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Though at first disappointed and discouraged at what appeared to be the dashing of his own human expectations, in faith Joseph willingly yielded all that he hoped for: “and Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (v.24).
The Father received what Joseph gave. Because of a loyal heart, yielded will and the sacrifice of all his own hopes of position and possession, once again, the miraculous took place. Not only was preparation made for the arrival of baby Jesus, Joseph was the generation in which God’s promise to David was fulfilled. He was privileged to be the earthly father to the Heavenly Father’s Son, the human resource from whom Jesus received His protection and provision while growing up here on earth.
With just four days until Christmas, this segment of the Christmas Story has a powerful message. As recent as this past week, one of my human expectations crumbled. The Holy Spirit offered me an invitation of hope: “Linda, may I have the crumbles of your humanity to redeem for my eternal purposes, even if you never see the fruit? Will you trust me to be Enough?” When we belong to Yahweh, self-driven inspirations, even good hopes and dreams, can become limitations to knowing God’s absolute best—unless we turn them over to God. When we relinquish all that we are and have to the divine will and perfect ways of God, the Father receives all, and through the absolute divine work of His Holy Spirit our dream becomes His avenue to prepare the world for Jesus.
Remember this Christmas: God didn’t send His Son to get rid of our humanness, but to be at our very center! “And they shall call his name Immanuel, which translated means, ‘God with us.’” “The zeal of the Lord” will perform this!
“Lord Jesus, I give you my crumbs for Christmas.”