Mary and Joseph both, have very probably been shamed and isolated by the small town of 50 to 100. Both have possibly lost the support, or at least the trust of their families—this is quite possibly why Mary is even going on the journey, when it's so late in the pregnancy, even though the trip is required only of Joseph. They finish their long walk (80 to 90 miles, 2600 miles up), alone, and on their arrival in Bethlehem, the shame and rejection felt from distant family members of Joseph seems unavoidable as well, causing Joseph to either take Mary somewhere other than to his own relative's home—which would be highly irregular in that culture, and would most probably show that he was avoiding the pain and embarrassment they each would suffer—or, as is most probable, he was at a relative's house, but they were put into the stable area of the house or land, rather than offered the guest room, even though she literally was giving birth. The outright rejection Joseph's family must have shown them, especially if she was at their home, seems apparent, because birthing a child was a major event in the Hebrew culture. The women would join the midwives in the event together. They would all help and comfort the mother, and care for the child when it arrived—it was a celebration. Yet, the Christmas text here in Luke makes it all too clear, that these two teens were completely alone in the delivery. The passage tells how Mary, herself, wrapped the Baby in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the Manger. This surely would have been the midwife or a helper, if they were present [and every other person present at the birth was mentioned by Scriptures—so, why would these women and midwives have not been mentioned as well?] Mary wrapped her own little Babe that night, and held Him closely, as the only comforter she had, Joseph, no doubt cradled them both.
At the very moment of His entrance into the world, Jesus was completely shamed, and left alone. But what many of us don't look closely enough to realize is this: the Magi, the Wise men who traveled from so far away, knew that Jesus was to be born at that time, because of ancient prophecies they had passed down for centuries from Daniel (which the Jews had in their own writings), and the Magi knew exactly where he would be born, because they received the information from the Priests, and Scribes who were in Jerusalem, just 5 or 6 miles away: Matthew 2:1-5. So, we know that the religious leaders knew the exact time and place to be looking for the Messiah to be born from these passages, and we know that the King of the Jews, Herod, knew all of this information as well, yet, none of them traveled even the 5 or 6 miles from Jerusalem to welcome or worship the King of Kings. Jesus was very probably rejected and ignored by: 1) His Nazarene families, 2) His Bethlehemian family, 3) the very Scribes & Priests who proclaimed & prophesied Him, 4) the common people who knew of His promised coming hundreds of years, 5) the political ruler in power at the time of His birth, 6) and every demon of hell who dreaded and feared His coming on that night—not because they didn't know about Him, but because they were comfortable and secure in their religious and secular lives, just as they were, and didn't need Him. They didn't want anyone or anything to upset the control and the comfort they had in life. They thought they could just ignore Him and He would not affect them. Those who should have understood Mary and Joseph’s actions and even embraced them seemed to judge them for their actions instead.
We know that Jesus grew up, and upon revealing Himself to the world in due time, He was also rejected and shamed in His life and ministry, because once again, many misunderstood Him, rejecting Him, just as when He was a tiny Babe. Jesus warned those that would truly follow Him—truly desire Him—they would be rejected by the world, just like Him: John 15:18-19. Jesus told His followers they would be hated and rejected, just as He was rejected: because they, “were not of the world!" Jesus said, if they were of the world, the world would love them. Why does following Christ make us, "not of this world?" Listen to Jesus' final prayer in the Garden, before His crucifixion, as He prays for those that would follow Him in the future: John 17:14-20: Jesus clearly says if we follow Him truly, His Word separates us from the world in such a way that it makes us hated and rejected—that we are, "Sanctified" through His Truth. Again, and again, in the New Testament, we are told to separate ourselves through His Word, so that we may be close to Christ and usable: 2 Timothy 2:21; Romans 12:1-2. So, a good first question would be: "Why does this make the world hate us? Why should they care how we live?" Sadly, we see the answer all too clearly in this day and age. The world cannot distinguish between not loving and indulging in what it does, and not loving and accepting them. To not agree and join in with the sins of the world, gives the world reason to say that Christians are judgmental, bigots, prejudice and self-righteous. When for a true Christian, just the opposite is true. This is why the Christians of the first century, and every century following, have been hated, hunted, imprisoned and killed.
John MacArthur stated a couple of years ago, that conservatively speaking, over 70 million people had been killed for their faith in Christ in history, and that 2/3 of them were after the start of the 20th century, and there are thousands being killed today.
Why does Christ expect us to work so hard not to indulge in these ways of the world? “Why does He seem so hard and rigid? What’s wrong with these things, anyway?” [Because that is a good question which often leaves God totally misunderstood, making the world, and many Christians, see Him as harsh, unfeeling, rigid, and against all that is fun or pleasurable, when, in fact, the answer proves God to be absolutely the very opposite of those things.] Listen to what the very things which God always calls, "sin", and tells us to set ourselves apart from, truly do in our lives. Sin always: 1) promotes a mindset that focuses on self over others—thinking of you over all when do it. 2) mistrusts God's wisdom 3) mistrusts God's love 4) distracts us from the path God has planned for us 5) makes us not see or not care about the most important things in life (including God's Will) 6) cheapens, disrespects, and removes true value and passion for others 7) gives fake satisfaction for a time, that needs more each time 8) always has consequences, even if only internal, that brings a hard heart, wrong focus, loss of love, loss of direction, loss of purpose, loss of self-respect and worth. God does not ever tell us to refrain from a sin, therefore making life more boring or rigid; He keeps us from things that cheapen and ruin our thoughts and hearts. He teaches us to have true honor and worth for others and self. He teaches us how to have true love, deep passion, and excitement in how we live, rather than cheapen everything into a quick thrill.
We can do all the things we've talked about through the Christmas Season thus far, and still never draw close to Christ, because we are not willing to be like this young teenage couple, and be completely set apart from the world—rejected if need be. Some of you are so paralyzed at the thought of living differently than the world around you. Quite honestly meaning you continue to believe that God is dumber than you are; or, God must not love you; or, you secretly don't believe He is real; or, you just truly don't care. What thing in this world are you holding onto, no matter the cost, because it means more to you than following God? When will you realize, it's not about what you can get away with, because the simple fact that you would rather find a way to get away with it, than trust God, says your heart is not His. What if I gave you a car as a gift, but then said it was only on the condition that I could borrow it everyday for work, weekends for cruising, and vacations for trips, but you could drive it anytime I didn't need to come borrow it. Have I given you the car at all? How many here are doing that with your life and God? Here's my life God—you can have it completely, except when I want to [fill in the blank]. Who really has your heart in that case? James 4:4-5, 8.
Please think about this: we are living in the last days, and the world is farther from God than it has ever been. Don’t you feel that our thought patterns and habits are extremely influenced by the ways around us? Don’t you think it is keeping you from living for Christ, being close to Christ as you should? When Jesus was wrapped in the first piece of cloth in this world, the swaddling cloth, He was in shame and rejection that night in the stable. And when He was wrapped in the last piece of cloth in this world, the last piece He would ever be cradled in, that awful purple robe, He was in shame and rejection. The rest of the royal world around us—the rest of the deity of this world are separated by their lavishness, and power, and prestige—our King of Kings was separated by His shame and disgrace: John 1:10-11. Those that saw Him that night, those that were touched by Him, those that were part of his plan, were those who were not afraid to be rejected by the world, shamed by those around them, misunderstood for their good intentions. Those so passionate to see Him, that the world and its ways held nothing for them in comparison. Those willing to be, "Black sheep, for the Spotless White Lamb". What do you need to give Him, from this world, as a Present this Christmas, to show that your heart belongs to Him only? Leave the world, and meet Him in the Manger.
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