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Text Sermons : Erlo Stegen : Mary, Joseph and the angel

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"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins."

"Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS." (Matthew 1:18-25).

During this time we remember the birth of our Lord Jesus. He is the son of God and the son of man. He is the Highest there is. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.

At Christmas time we see how small He made Himself and how He humbled Himself to be born as a baby. He came down to our level - He stooped even lower than our level and was born in a cow shed.

Man always strives for the highest position. Many even want to start right at the top. In fact that's exactly what the communists want and do. They'll take a street sweeper and promote him to be the CEO or director of a great corporation and we see the results of that around us. Where they rule everything goes backwards.

There's only one place where you start at the top - that's when you dig a grave, and then it goes downwards from there.

The Lord Jesus said if you are not faithful in small things you will not be entrusted with great things. If you humble yourself you will be uplifted but if you uplift yourself you will be humbled.

The Lord holds the universe in the palm of His hand and His fingers cover everything. Yet, He Who is so great was prepared to humble Himself and be born as a baby in a stable.

Let us look at the events that took place around His birth. We celebrate Christmas but do we really understand what we are celebrating and the events that took place at that time?

Mary was in the Royal line of David and so too was Joseph her husband.

We know that Mary was still very young, some estimate about 16 but we do not know exactly. However Joseph was quite a bit older. The Royal house of David had collapsed at that time. Although Joseph was a prince, he worked as a carpenter. He should have carried the royal sceptre of the house of David. We find that they were extremely poor. They lived from hand to mouth. They didn't have money to buy a smart horse and carriage, but had to travel by donkey.

When someone is poor he mustn't give up as if nothing is worth living for. The Bible teaches us when we have clothes to wear and food to eat we must be content (1Tim 6:8). If you live upright and treat everyone fairly, then it doesn't matter that you're poor. Even our Lord's parents were very poor.

We came into this world with absolutely nothing and so we will leave this world.

A certain rich white farmer once said, "death doesn't worry me too much. What really troubles me is how I will be able to part with my wealth". His heart and treasures were on this earth.

Mary and Joseph were righteous, upright, God-fearing people. They were not like so many people who are running after riches and wealth.

Mary and Joseph were people who looked upwards, not on earthly and worldly things. They had heaven before their eyes, not what the world offers them.
They were not attracted by the world and the glamour of this world, but they were attracted by heaven. They realised that they were pilgrims and strangers in this world and that they were just passing through this world.

They were not like Judas who sold His Lord for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave. Judas was the treasurer, but he wasn't faithful but took some of the money for himself.

Joseph got the shock of his life when he saw and heard that Mary was pregnant while they were engaged to each other. It wasn't acceptable in those days for a boy and girl to be alone together, in contrast to our day where it's commonplace. Moses had a very strict law that if a young man should sleep with a girl, not being married to her, both of them should be publicly stoned.

It's also noteworthy that after the angel appeared to Mary, she didn't send a message to Joseph to explain the matter to him. She kept the matter to herself and left it in God's hands. She knew how to keep heaven's secrets. She knew God didn't command her to tell anybody about the matter and so she kept it to herself. One sees even in this that she was of Royal blood.
Common people cannot keep quiet about pearls they have received, but speak about it and so cast it before swine.

Eventually it became obvious that she was pregnant and when Joseph heard the news, he couldn't believe it. He knew her as an upright girl. Joseph too was a remarkable man; he also didn't speak about the matter, but simply brought it before the Lord. There are very few people like this in the world.
As he thought on the matter he decided not to disgrace her publicly but simply break the engagement as quietly as possible.

Nowadays a young man would get a girl pregnant and then drop her like that and leave her to see to herself, even denying that it's his child.

By breaking the engagement secretly, Joseph was in the danger of being accused of doing the same. One could ask Joseph, "It was public knowledge that you were engaged; now she falls pregnant and you simply disappear quietly? It will look very suspicious and damning to yourself." It was a dark hour in Jospeh's life. Whatever he did would've put him in a bad spot. He didn't want to disgrace her publicly but leaving her in secret would make him to appear to be an evil man.

When Mary got the message from the angel Gabriel, she was amazed but accepted it for God's sake. She was willing to go through the shame of false accusations and her ambitions and future wedding she put on the altar for God's sake. She was an amazing girl. She lost everything that was precious to her for Jesus' sake.

We find the same spirit in Paul when he wrote,

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ," (Philippians 3:8).

She gave up all for the sake of Christ, and is called blessed by all generations since.

Are you ashamed of your Lord? Mary wasn't ashamed to own Him and was willing to go through all manner of disgrace for His sake.

Jesus didn't enter into this world like all of us. The Blood in His veins were Divine, Heavenly Blood. That's why He could shed His Blood for our sins and save us from our sins.

Even after Mary and Joseph were married we find them speaking and conversing about the things God had done. We read that Joseph "knew her not till Jesus was born" (v 25). Their minds were on Heavenly things and that was what they conversed about.

Consider your life if you are also of the same Heavenly family and if that is also your conversation and walk of life, being a pilgrim on earth.

"You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier."
(2Tim 2:3, 4)






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