What sometimes gets lost the Christmas story is the amazing faith shown by Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus. In that culture, to have a child out of wedlock was both shameful and dangerous. Mary could have been stoned to death. God was asking Mary to face possible social disgrace, unjust accusations and possible death. The same could have been true of Joseph if he had been accused of being the father of the baby. At the very least, he would have had to endure the disgrace of having been engaged to an unfaithful wife to be.
Yet God said, “Trust me. This is part of my good plan. I know neither of you have done anything wrong regardless of what men may say. Trust me and take a step of faith like Abraham and Sarah did before you when they began their journey from Ur to Canaan. Trust me that I am a miracle working, promising keeping God that wants you to be part of my plan for the salvation of the world.”
The practical realities of hardship and suffering if they follow God vs the future glories of God’s kingdom that they might not ever get to see, at least in this life. Indeed, Joseph seems to have died before ever seeing the fulfillment of God’s plan in Christ’s death and resurrection. He never saw the beginnings of the world wide mission of the church that would take the gospel to the nations. He was like the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 who “died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar.”
But Joseph and Mary stepped out in faith, trusting God for what they could not understand. They believed in things they could not see, but believed that these hidden spiritual realities were the guiding principles that were ruling the world. They believed that God was good and that his plans for them and for the world were good.
Today we light the advent candle in imitation of the faith of Joseph and Mary. We believe that this child in the manger is the Savior of world and that he is our personal Savior as well. With Joseph and Mary, we say, “Come, Lord Jesus. We welcome you.”