Read: Matthew 2:1-12
Apply: Have you ever thought your head was going to explode due to stress or worry about the unexpected? I have to confess, I made Joseph’s head break off the other day….yes, that is Joseph, as in the husband of Mary. I was straightening my ceramic nativity and lo and behold, Joseph fell over and his head broke off.
I wonder if that is how Joseph’s physical body, heart and soul felt around the time of Jesus’ birth. He had a young wife who was carrying a child which was not his, he was told to stay married to Mary (no matter what the town gossips were saying), the young couple were forced to take a hard journey on dirt roads at the time Mary was due to give birth, there were no accommodations waiting for them at their destination, and the earthly welcoming party for their beloved baby was a group of social outcasts – shepherds.
To make these circumstances even more complicated, Joseph’s people were under the thumb of the Roman government. What was God thinking when He had His beloved Son Jesus to be born under the rule of the murderer, Herod the Great? It is pretty sad that by the time the Magi arrived in Jerusalem searching for the Christ, Herod had already annihilated many from the Sanhedrin and had slaughtered three hundred court officers. Herod’s trail of bodies included his wife, his mother-in-law, and he would also end up murdering three of his sons. In true irony, the Roman Emperor Augustus once said, “It is safer to be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son.” That’s the kind of world and government that Jesus entered into as a baby. It would be enough to make Jesus’ earthly papa weep.
It is interesting when I hear people say they would never want to bring a child into our current world. It is certainly easy to get freaked out watching the news, reading present-day events and adjusting to what a dangerous setting we live in. Yet, that is exactly the kind of world Jesus was born into. He was born into a place that hated Him and denied Him. Yet God chose specifically that exact time for this wonderful and miraculous event.
God never let the plans of evil to men slow Him down. God worked regardless of those who openly rejected His Son or were indifferent. The chief priests at Jerusalem could tell from what the Magi said where Christ was born, yet they never went to worship Him. The religious leaders had no particular interest or sympathy; they were unconcerned. Supposedly, the Jews had looked forward to the Messiah’s arrival with great expectation, yet when He arrived, the majority chose to either reject or ignore Him. However, we have the account of the social outcasts, the shepherds, coming to worship. Also, in Matthew 2 we have the telling of the scientific men, the geniuses of that day, coming from a great distance with three gifts to lay before Jesus, recognizing “there is infinite power even in an infant Savior.” (Spurgeon) Note how these men, who were truly wise, phrased the question, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” Usually someone has to be a prince before they become a King, but Jesus was born The King.
For Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, these had to be troubling and worrying times and yet God provided time after time. When the magi placed at the feet of Jesus a treasure of gold, God was providing for the midnight trip Joseph would have to make with his young family in order to escape the murderous clutches of Herod. God knew what He was doing and even though Joseph’s head hurt, with all the twists and turns in this miraculous journey, God was faithful.
Apply: Is this the God you intimately know? The faithful God Who is constant in the midst of the storm? I had to glue my ceramic Joseph’s head back on, but God kept the real Joseph in one piece. Joseph knew Psalm 31: 1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.