These three days prior to Christmas, allow me to briefly examine three things wrong with the Christmas story, as we commonly hear it.
The scriptural accounts of Jesus’ birth are full of barbs, pricks, and leaps; yet, over time we’ve become so familiar with the story that we now fail to grasp (let alone appreciate) the blessed disruption that always seems to occur when God appears. So, now let us begin with the first thing wrong with the Nativity story: The underestimation of Joseph’s character.
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'” (Matthew 1:18-21, NIV)
Joseph, in my opinion, doesn’t get nearly the credit he’s due in the Christmas story. If there was anyone in the story who could have walked-away with his good name unsullied, it was Joseph. Whatever conclusion Joseph had made regarding the cause of Mary’s pregnancy, he was determined to do whatever he could to shield Mary from the tsunami of public scorn that awaited women in Mary’s situation. Only a gentleman of good character would act as Joseph did.
The story, of course, didn’t end there. Joseph not only acted to shield Mary but, in obedience to God, Joseph’s good name and good character became her shield and her safe harbor in a hostile society. This is huge!
As we approach Bethlehem, may we see not only God’s peculiar ways, but people of good character — like Joseph — who are kind and good in even the most dire of situations; and who are obedient to God at great personal cost. – Luther