Merry Christmas! We’re glad that you’ve taken the time to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with us this Sunday. The true meaning of Christmas was revealed to a peasant girl named Mary by an angel 2000 years ago. The angel told her …
Luke 1:31 (ESV) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
Lots of married peasant girls were having children at that time. Some were even being named Jesus. So, what was so special about the angelic message? What was special was that Mary wasn’t yet married, she was a virgin. So, she asked the angel about it.
Luke 1:34-35 (ESV) And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
Now we are beginning to understand why Christmas is so special. For the first and only time in history, a virgin would conceive without a man involved and bear a son. The angel explained how this miraculous virgin birth would occur. The Holy Spirit, God Himself, would come upon Mary and enable her to conceive. What that means is that the child would be fully human from Mary and full divine from the Holy Spirit. The angel said that the child, Jesus, would be holy and sinless. He would be the Son of God, God in human flesh. That is what Christmas is really all about, the birth of God in human flesh as a baby. Of course, that baby was born with a purpose that we’ll be talking about today as well.
Yet, we often get so wrapped up in the trappings and busyness of the Christmas holiday, that we don’t take time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Today, we want to focus on that true meaning of Christmas and its implications for our lives today. So, today, for the remaining time in our service, let’s not think about any gifts left to be wrapped, any cards not yet made out, any cookies not baked and so on. Let’s all make a decision to focus on minds and hearts on what God has to say to us about what Christmas truly means and how that should impact our lives.
Today’s message in our Christmas series “Jesus the King” is entitled “Welcome Jesus the King.” Let’s make a choice to welcome Jesus into our hearts and homes this Christmas.
Matthew 1:18-19 (ESV) Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
Let’s begin to think about this story by putting ourselves in Joseph’s shoes. Joseph was in love with a nice Jewish girl named Mary. She had been betrothed to Joseph. A betrothal means that Mary was legally pledged to be married to Joseph in the future. A betrothal was similar to our engagement, but more legally binding and typically lasted one year. The only way to break a betrothal was by divorce. During the betrothal period, Mary was found to be pregnant. When Joseph found out, he knew that she was not pregnant by himself. So, the only conclusion he could draw was that Mary had been unfaithful to their betrothal with another man. We know from verse 18 that Mary was pregnant, not by another man, but through the Holy Spirit. But Joseph did not know that and would not have dreamed of it.
Joseph felt that his only option was to divorce Mary for her unfaithfulness. Joseph had two options on divorcing Mary. The first was a public divorce where Mary would be brought before a public tribunal and shamed before everyone. The other option was a private divorce before two and three witnesses. So, Joseph entire life and plans had been interrupted by Mary’s pregnancy. It was the last thing that he had expected from her. He couldn’t believe that it was happening. All his dreams about their future marriage and family had been shattered. The love he thought they had shared appeared to be irretrievably broken. Mary, his pledged future wife had been unfaithful, or so it appeared to Joseph.
Yet, Joseph still had a tender spot in his heart for Mary. Rather than requiring her to go through the humiliation of a public divorce, he chose to divorce her privately. But his heart was broken over this completely unexpected turn of events. Jesus had interrupted Joseph’s life and all his plans and dreams.
Jesus came to this earth to interrupt people’s lives. He came to break into your plans and dreams for your life and future and replace them with His own. Jesus did not come to this earth to be your magic genie who miraculous fulfills every wish and desire you may have. Jesus came to take complete control of every person’s life who choose to allow Him to do so.
You see, Jesus has a purpose in interrupting people’s lives. His purpose is to change you from going your own way, to going His way. I believe there are some people here today, whose lives are being interrupted by Jesus. You may think that everything is going wrong, like Joseph did. Yet, Jesus is working in your life for His purposes, which is ultimately for your good.
Matthew 1:20-21 (ESV) But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
An angel had already appeared to Mary and explained to her what was happening. Although Scripture does not tell us, it would be reasonable to assume that Mary told Joseph about her angelic encounter. What do you think Joseph would have thought of that? Certainly, he would think that Mary had just made it up to excuse her unfaithfulness. So he was going to go ahead with the divorce.
But one night, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to not fear, but go forward with his plans to marry Mary. The angel told Joseph that Mary was indeed still a virgin. The pregnancy was not from another man, but from the Holy Spirit. The angel told Joseph that the child Mary would bear should be named Jesus.
Not only would Jesus’ birth be miraculous, but Jesus would be the Savior, who would save people from their sins. Now Joseph began to understand why Jesus had interrupted his life. Now, Joseph began to understand what God’s plan for his marriage and Mary’s son was all about. What appeared to be a disaster, an unanticipated pregnancy, would become an incredible blessing.
The angel thus revealed to Joseph Jesus’ plan for his life and gave him several commands. Joseph was not to divorce Mary, but go ahead with the wedding plans. Just think for a minute how this would appear to others. It would appear that Joseph had got Mary pregnant before the marriage. He would be publicly shamed in his home town. Jesus’ plan would not be easy, but Joseph was to name the child, Jesus. And though Joseph couldn’t have understood it all, this Jesus would be the Savior.
Jesus interrupts your life to reveal His plan to you as well. Jesus created you with a plan and purpose for your life. And His plan is quite different than your plan and ideas for your life. Jesus’ plan for your life will not happen automatically. You must cooperate with Him in order for that wonderful plan to be fulfilled. Following Jesus’ plan for your life is never easy. Yet, in the long run, His plan is the perfect plan for how He has created you and where He has place you. God wants you to make a decision to cooperate with His plan.
Matthew 1:22-23 (ESV) All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
The angel is no longer speaking to Joseph in these verses. Matthew is telling us that Jesus’ plan for Mary and Joseph was prophesied by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. Amazingly, Isaiah 7:14, says that a virgin would conceive and bear a son, a physical impossibility by any natural means. So, the conception of this child had to be miraculous and supernatural.
The prophet said that the name of child would be Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Not only would be child be miraculous conceived, his name meant that He would be God in the flesh, God with His people. So, we see that God’s plan will always agree with God’s Word. In this case, this Old Testament prophecy is one of hundreds, that foretold the events and ministry of Jesus’ life hundreds and thousands of years before He was born. We don’t know if Joseph was familiar with this Old Testament Scripture at this time or not. But we do know that the angel’s revelation to him was in keeping with God’s Word.
Many people are confused about Jesus’ plan for their lives. Some people think that God is hiding his plan from them, so they can’t find it. The truth is that God wants you to know His plan for your life. Oh, He won’t tell you the complete plan all at once. But He will tell you enough to help you take the next step in His plan. God is not hiding His plan for your life. Other people confuse their own plans for their lives and think it’s God’s plan. Substituting your plans for God’s plans will never work out. God’s plans are always in agreement with God’s Word. While the specifics of the plan may not be detailed in the Bible, the basic principles of the plan will be. God’s plans for your life and not about you, they’re about building God’s kingdom.
If the plans you think are God’s are all about your fame, fortune or benefit, they’re not from God. God’s plans for your life are about His kingdom, His glory and His fame. As we head into the new year, be sure to submit your plans for this new year to God and allow Him to adjust and correct your plans. It’s really all about …
Matthew 1:24-25 (ESV) When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
When Joseph work up from his dream, his plans were completely changed. Rather than going forward with his plans to divorce Mary, Joseph followed God’s plan to take her as his wife. Joseph did exactly as the angel commanded. He did not have marital relations with Mary before the birth of Jesus. There is no doubt that Jesus was born of a virgin. We don’t know much about Joseph from the Scripture, but we do know that he was obedient to God’s plan for his life and marriage.
Of course, Joseph was not therefore Jesus’ father, God was Jesus’ father. Yet God had chosen Joseph to raise Jesus, which was a rare privilege. Joseph had allowed Jesus to upend his own plans for his life. He had embraced God’s plan for his life and faithfully obeyed every command of God in raising Jesus.
The title of our message series is Jesus the King. When you acknowledge Jesus as your King, it means that you commit yourself to following His plan and commands in your life. Joseph willingly submitted to God’s plan for his life, even though it was not an easy road. Today, some of you may not know what Jesus’ plan for your life is all about. You’ve been following your own plans without any consultation with God at all. The Bible calls following your own plans, not God’s, sin. The essence of sin is running your own life your way, rather than God’s way.
In a few minutes, we’ll give everyone an opportunity to turn over their lives to follow God’s plan. In other words, you will be welcoming Jesus as your King or Lord. Others here know what Jesus’ plan for your life is, at least to some degree, but you’ve been fighting that plan. You’re having trouble submitting to that plan, of obeying the King. God wants you to choose today to welcome Jesus as your King in every area of your life.
Finally, there are some here today who really want to follow Jesus’ plan, but you’re not sure what it is. You need to hear clearly from Him what your next step is. God wants each person here to welcome Jesus as your King, which also means submitting to His plans for your life.