This talk was given by Paul Wintle on as part of our worship service at Main Street Community Church and on the Internet. The talk is long.
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Hi, I’m Yosef. You probably know me by my English name, Joseph. I’ve got a fascinating story to tell you. It’s about what you call the First Christmas. Let me tell you my side of the Christmas story.
You see, I’ve got a really rich family tree in all sorts of ways. My family goes back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. About 28 generations back, I have King David as many times my great-grandfather. David was king over God’s chosen people, the Israelites. God made a promise to David and Israel that He would bring forth a king for Israel and for David’s family, and He did.
There was Solomon and Jeroboam. There was Ahab, and many, many more. Many of the kings were bad. They were really bad. There was Solomon, of course, like I’ve just said. There were some good kings as well, but eventually, there were so many bad kings, that God eventually took the kingdom of Israel away from them, and sent the Israelites into captivity, but God never forgot His promise to Israel, to David.
Even when the Israelites had nothing to do with God, He kept reminding them of His promise. He told them the next king to come would be the Messiah. He would be the one who would deliver the Israelites. When God sent the Israelites into captivity, they were prisoners. They were slaves to foreign lands. Life was hard for them. They kept looking for this promised Messiah, but He never seemed to come. After many years, some of the Israelites made it back into the Promised Land. They kept looking for this Messiah. They kept looking for him to come and deliver them from oppression.
That’s when I come into the picture. I was engaged to be married. God had brought a lovely, beautiful girl into my life. Her name was Mary. She was all a man could wish for in a future wife. I loved her so much and looked forward to spending the rest of our lives together. Like all engaged couples, we talked about our future. We looked forward to a life of love and hope. I was a carpenter, and I was making a decent living. One day we’d have children, and that would be amazing. We couldn’t wait until we were married, starting our new life together. I was so happy I found the one that God had for me. I could not believe how blessed I was to have the girl of my dreams about to become my wife.
One day, I talked to Mary, and my world was shattered. My life stopped dead in its tracks. The unthinkable had happened. Mary delivered some news. My Mary was pregnant. I knew I had never touched Mary. I knew I was not the father.
Mary, ... she tried to explain. She mentioned God and angels, but I was far too furious for that. I knew what the Law said about women who had babies when they weren’t married. I knew the Law, and it said that Mary had to be stoned. I couldn’t understand how this could have happened. Mary was engaged to me, and I thought that she loved me. How could she do this to me? How could she do this to herself? If anyone found out, surely she would be put to death.
I couldn’t marry a woman like this, pregnant with somebody else’s baby, but I loved Mary too much for her to be stoned. Back in that day, an engagement was as good as married. You couldn’t just back out of an engagement. All I could think of was to break it off privately, without anyone knowing. This would protect my darling Mary for a few more months anyway. That’s all I could do. I left Mary and decided to sleep on it.
That night I didn’t think I’d ever get to sleep. My life had just been turned upside down and sleep didn’t come easily. Sometime I must have dozed off, because as I was sleeping, I had a dream. An angel appeared in my dream and spoke to me. He told me not to be afraid to take Mary as my wife. He told me to go ahead and marry. He told me that the baby Mary was carrying was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He even told me it was going to be a boy. Greater still, he told me the name of this baby. He told me to name the baby Jesus.
When I woke up, I knew I had had much more than just a dream. I knew I’d heard from God Himself. I knew Mary was carrying somebody else’s baby: I knew she was carrying the Son of God.
I ran over to Mary’s house as soon as morning came and told her what had happened overnight. She smiled and told her story to me again, with me listening this time. She told me all the angel had told her about this baby. She was so excited, and actually so was I. Marriage was on again, and it would be something very special.
Not long afterwards, the Roman rulers decided to take this census. We lived in the town of Nazareth, in Galilee. We had to go to the city of David, my family’s town, Bethlehem, about 90 miles away. It was a long way, but we couldn’t think of being apart when the baby was born. Mary was from the family of David, too, so both of us went down to Bethlehem together, and of course, it took us a very long time, and I really didn’t know if we were going to make it to Bethlehem before Mary had the baby.
Late that night, we finally got to Bethlehem. Mary wasn’t going to make it much longer, so I tried to find us a place to stay. I went to an inn in town, but they were full, and the innkeeper did have a barn. Well, it’s the best that we could have.
Later that night, the time came. There was no one in the barn, except me and Mary and a few animals, but in that dark, smelly barn, God brought forth a miracle. In that old barn, Mary gave birth to a Son. We didn’t have any blankets or anything for the baby, so we wrapped him in some old strips of cloth. We remembered the angel and remembered that we should call the baby Jesus. I held him and looked into that baby’s face. I loved him as if he were my own child. It was the greatest moment of my life. I just kept looking at him and saying, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”
Not long afterwards, a group of shepherds showed up. They were all excited, telling about angels appearing to them. The angels told them not to be afraid. They were there with great news. They told the shepherds that Christ, the Lord, was born in Bethlehem. I was amazed and mystified by all of this. Could this baby be the Christ? Could this baby actually be the Messiah that God had promised?
As I say, I loved this baby. I raised him like I would my own son. As he got older, I taught him my trade. I saw him grow in wisdom and in stature. I knew he had greatness waiting ahead for him. He was my pride and joy. I didn’t get to live to see him reach his greatest hour, but I do know the rest of the story of his life.
That little baby grew up to be a man. He began to preach the kingdom of God. He upset a lot of people with his preaching and his claims about himself. Finally, the people had enough, and they nailed Jesus to a tree, just like he said they would. They thought they had rid themselves of the maniac who claimed to be the Messiah, but just three days later, Jesus took life back. He rose from the grave and proved he was the very Son of God. He truly is the Messiah. He is the Deliverer.
That little baby that I held in my arms many years ago. That little baby was God Himself. He wasn’t my son. He was God’s Son. That little baby I held in my arms was my Saviour. He was born that night so that, years later, he could die for me. He came into this world to deliver me for my sins. He came so that I might have eternal life, and he lives today.
This Jesus came to be your Saviour, too. He wants to give each of us eternal life.
Two thousand years ago, I saw God come down to earth. I wanted to tell you about this baby that I saw born, because he lives today. He is my Messiah. He can be yours. He can save us today.
References and sources
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