What child is this, who laid to rest,
on Mary's lap is sleeping?
Matthew 1:18-25 (King James Version)
“ 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 public example, was minded to put her away privily. "
What child is this? A question that had to have echoed in Joesph’s mind.
Joseph was not exactly JOYFUL when his fiance told him she was PREGNANT! Not only that, but Mary kept saying that the baby’s father was the HOLY GHOST. All Joseph knew was that he had NOTHING to do with it.
Joseph’s life was at least, interrupted, and at worst, scandalized.
But Joseph was a decent man. So when he got this “terrible news” instead of publicly accusing Mary and having her STONED, which he could have done… Joseph decided to quietly divorce her. Wow! Such a simple, understated solution.
He could have ruined her and her family, he could have had her killed.
He was standing there while all his dreams of life with his wife were in ruins. But still, he decided to remove himself from what seemed to be an adulterous relationship. Compassion…
So, this decision having been made, Joseph retired to bed. But, his dreams were invaded by an ANGEL with a message:
“ 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."
Joseph woke up! Did God REALLY just send him direction or was it just a dream?
Joseph still had the power to choose. . We know the choice he made.....
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife...
"And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”
The father naming his child was very important at this time. It said something about the family lineage. In the Book of Matthew it says,
“This is the genealogy of Jesus, the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham”. But when you read through it, notice how the genealogy ends: “and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called Messiah.”
This is Joseph’s family line, not Mary’s!
But Joseph is NOT Jesus’ dad.
Jesus is God’s Son! But, Jesus’ lineage is through Joseph not Mary. He would not be connected to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, if he were not connected to Joseph.
It is absolutely CRITICAL that Joseph accept Jesus as his son. When he names Jesus, Joseph claims him as his own and thus within his family's lineage. He raises him and teaches him. Jesus is the son of Joseph the Carpenter.
Jesus, like too many babies, was an unpleasant surprise for Joseph.
Baby Jesus challenged his concept of what his family would be. He was stuck raising a child that was not his, and, to add to the difficulties, Jesus was a SPECIAL child with needs and a future that was destined to be different.
That is what babies do…. they happen and challenge all of us. We get interrupted with this little human gift that isn’t always easy to receive. They demand that we change our lives and make different decisions. The challenge is not in receiving the gift we want but in accepting the gift we are given.
For Joseph, and for Mary, the existence of this baby might have been a terrible event. But Joseph made a choice. He kept Mary alive thus saving her child, he married her and gave that child his name. And the rest of this story unfolds because of that choice. He chose life. Had Joseph chosen differently the story would have had a very different ending.
As Christmas Eve approaches, and we celebrate the birth of this most Special Child, may we all turn around and, like Joseph, see with new eyes. May we recognize the gift and purpose of the tiny lives that are given us. May we grant them their RIGHT to interrupt, change, and surprise us with their existence in our world.
What child is this?