Imagine you’ve worked all your life to climb the ladder of success and come out on top. You’ve carefully crafted your connections, learned the rules of the game, and made sacrifice after sacrifice to get what you want. While many did little to add value, you built, and built, and built. Surely after years of success, you’ve earned the right to be the boss. So, when you hear that Management insists on putting someone new above you, you want to know: why should you submit to Him? As far as you’re concerned, He’ll only get in your way.
Friends, Herod was determined to be king. He continually cultivated contacts in Rome so that the power of the world would make him “King of the Jews.” Once king, he built aqueducts and amphitheaters, palaces and fortresses, cities and ports. He rebuilt the Temple of Jerusalem and built pagan temples elsewhere. He also murdered anyone he perceived as a threat to his rule, including one of his wives and three of his sons. Christ was a threat too. When Herod heard that God’s own anointed “King of the Jews” had been born, he made his choice. He would murder the Messiah rather than submit his kingship to Him.
Imagine you have wealth that most in the world can only dream of. You’ve been given education so ample that you make your living not by the sweat of your brow, but by the knowledge and expertise you possess. While many struggle and others starve, you and your friends are a favored group; you are people of position and high standing. So, when news breaks that the “King of the Jews” has been born, why should you change your life to seek Him?
Yet that’s exactly what the men called magi decided to do. These wealthy, learned, comfortable men resolved to leave their lives behind so they could find and worship the Christ. Friends, to seek Him from a distant land was not a painless proposition. They had to leave their homes, families, and jobs. They had to organize a large, expensive caravan and risk a dangerous, months-long journey on trade routes rife with bandits. They had to meet with a treacherous King Herod. The magi not only decided to do all this, but they did it with joy. They joyfully found the Christ, bowed down, and gave their treasures to Him.
Put yourself in Joseph’s place. Mary, the woman you’re betrothed to, is pregnant, and you know the baby isn’t yours. She swears that she’s been faithful to you, that she’s pregnant not by man but through the power of the Holy Spirit. You love her and want badly to believe her, but this is a thing unheard of. How can you accept this incredible claim? It flies in the face of everything you know to be true. You have to quietly send Mary away from you. The law says she should be stoned, but you don’t want that. Enough has been lost already.
Friends, God’s plan for Joseph and his family was so incredible he could not accept it until an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and confirmed Mary’s story. Even then, he could have decided to send Mary away. Even then, he faced a hard choice. To take Mary as his wife meant embracing stigma and scandal. To believe and obey God meant losing reputation and standing in the world. Tongues would always wag about the circumstances of Jesus’s birth. But Joseph chose to trust God. He chose to believe God’s unbelievable plan, to take Mary as his wife, and to become the earthly father of the Son of God.