KINGDOM PRIORITIES IN THE CHRISTMAS STORY
Christ is God’s gift to us at Christmas. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus was carried in Mary’s womb and was born as a helpless baby. God personally supervised every single detail of His birth. Christ’s birth was a reflection of God’s character that expresses compassion and exalts humility.
God chose simple and humble people to be the earthly parents of his son. Both Mary and Joseph had great sanctity of character. They submitted to the will of God. They obeyed God selﬂessly and wholeheartedly. Both of them persevered against all odds and endured great hardship and difficulty to fulﬁl the solemn responsibility of bringing the Son of God into the world.
Mary was the humble recipient of God’s favour. God partnered with her in an unprecedented act of creation, unique in the history of mankind. It was a rare honour of unparalleled distinction. never bestowed upon anyone else. The Bible says that Mary was a chaste virgin. God holds purity in high esteem because He is pure and holy. Though troubled at first at the announcement of the angel, Mary submitted obediently to the will of God. She was aware of the risk that she was taking. But she said “Yes” to God. She agreed to take up the divine assignment. Doing God’s will was the top priority in her life. Nothing else mattered. When Mary submitted to God’s will, she had to endure much pain.
In the ninth month of her pregnancy, she had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem on a donkey to be registered in the national census of the whole Roman Empire. When the time came for Mary to give birth, there was no room for them to stay in the inn. She had to deliver her baby in a stable. There, in the most humble and lowly of places, Mary gave birth to her firstborn. She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.
Joseph was a just and upright man. He was confronted with a terrible crisis and unimaginable dilemma. Imagine his utter shock and great distress on hearing that his ﬁancee is pregnant. God gave him a surprise, one that would shake the core of his very being. Joseph sacriﬁced his interests for the work of God to be fulﬁlled through him. He was far more concerned about Mary’s reputation than about the deep, personal hurt he had to endure on account of the virgin birth. The exemplary way in which he treated Mary, in the most trying and difficult circumstances, clearly indicates his kind and gentle nature. Only under the deep scrutiny of the most severe stresses and strains of life does the true character of a man emerge. Joseph did not fail his greatest test. He believed God against all odds. That is why God entrusted him with the grandest responsibility that a man could ever have, to be the foster father of the incarnate son of God. Not a single word of his is recorded in the Gospels. He gently fades into the background. But his attitudes and actions speak volumes of his sterling character.
The Magnificat, Mary’s hymn of praise (Luke 1:46-55) glorifies God for what He has done, and what He is about to do. She glorifies the Lord in reflecting (and ‘magnifying’) His goodness and love. The Magnificat is more than a prayer of praise. It also reminds us about the essential link between humility and holiness. Just as God has “regarded the lowliness of His handmaid” and “has done great things” for Mary in making her the mother of God’s Son, so too “He has put down the mighty from their thrones (with His own might!) and has exalted the lowly.”
Let us remember that the Christmas event bears witness to the inversion of worldly values that characterise God’s Kingdom, a kingdom where greatness is measured in terms of obedience, self-denial and humility.
© Miriam Jacob