Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14

 

If you don’t like this blog within the first few sentences, you’re going to promptly “X” off this page and find something more worthwhile to entertain yourself.  Ain’t nobody got time for boring.  First rule of writing:  Connect with your audience.

Why, then, does the leading gospel of the most popular book of all time seem to purposely crash-n-burn in the very first chapter?  Matthew misses his chance to connect with humanity:  A list of forty-two generations (Yada-yada-yada) finally leading up to “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about…”  (Matthew 1:18)

So, we skip ahead.  What’s important to us (and to our Christmas), clearly, begins with Mary’s virgin birth.

And, just like that, we’ve missed it.

That boring list of names?  Just the to key understanding the baby lying in that manger under your tree.  It is the foundation to our HOPE.  The very reason we aren’t out for the count.

Inadequate?

  • Remember that when God told Abraham he would have a son, “he fell facedown; he laughed …” (Genesis 17:17)   But God still gave him Isaac. (Gen 21:3)

Betrayed?

  • Jacob worked for 7 years for the beautiful hand of Rachel, only to be “tricked” and given (ugly) Leah.  Yet, “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb… she called his name Judah.”  (Genesis 29:31-35)

Unworthy?

  • Rahab was a prostitute who helped Israel take down Jericho, by hiding the spies Joshua sent into her city.  Later, she married one of the those spies, Salmon, and together, they had Boaz.  (Joshua 6:25)

Forgotten?

  • Ruth, a barren and widowed foreigner, against all odds,was rescued by the loving heart of Boaz.  God gifted them a son and “…they named him Obed.  He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.”  (Ruth 4:17)

Disappointing?

  • King David?  “God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’.” But he really screws up when he falls in lust with Bathsheba, then has her husband, Uriah, killed.  However, the son born from that adultery?  Solomon.

Generations of story after broken story.  Our faith is rooted in people who doubted, sinned, questioned, gave up and then, against expectation, found grace.  God’s rescue plan for the world (for YOU) didn’t begin at the manger scene.  Whole nations were destroyed in an effort to wipe out any one of the 42 generations we skip over in Matthew 1.  The enemy tirelessly toyed with, fooled, deceived and repeatedly crippled the lives of these chosen men and women.  People just like you and me.

And satan is the same dog with the same tricks today.

In this season, I’m finding the most relatable of that family tree to be “….Joseph, the husband of Mary…”. (Matthew 1:16)

A big heart with big dreams…it’s just that they weren’t God’s dreams for him.  He defined himself by what the world around him said would make sense.  Ironically, all the while, he joined those praying for the promise that Isaiah foretold long ago: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

He’d found the love of his life in a woman that was so wonderful, the Bible calls her “Highly favored of God” (Luke 1:28).  But, in the height of his planning, his world came crashing down.  Blindsided.  Betrayed.  He didn’t believe Mary’s story.  Who would?  And, given his circumstance, he did the biggest thing he could muster, making the choice to protect her just long enough to save her (unworthy) reputation.

He didn’t see the plan.  The Father had to spell it out:  “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:20-22)

God had to say to “Hello! remember who you are, SON OF DAVID.”  Joseph knew full well that he descended from the line of King David, the promised seed of the very savior for whom he’d been praying (2 Samuel 7:12-1).  And he knew about the foretold virgin birth.  But he never assumed God’s big plan could include him.  In fact, in this moment, he didn’t see salvation, but, instead, felt abandonment.

Despite thousands of years, involving 42 generations of epic rescue, while all of heaven watched with bated breath, Joseph nearly walked away — because he didn’t know how to have faith big enough.

And that night, when “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood…”  John 1:14 (MSG),  can you imagine what Joseph must have said to God… how his heart must have burst from the wonder, and from how he almost missed it all?

As you celebrate the birth of our Savior this week, remember the 17 verses before Him.  See the faces of all the people God used despite – well – everything.  Remind yourself to Whom you belong.  And think about what dreams you’re not dreaming.  What portion of your faith is defined by your circumstances?  What promises has the Father given you–through scripture, the Holy Spirit, the prophetic and the everyday secret desires of your heart–that you’ve dismissed?  Find the wonder and the glory of His Son in YOU.

It’s time to be (so much more) brave.  There’s a silent night waiting for it.