December 24, 2012: Like Father, Like Son

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM GOD INCARNATE LYING IN A MANGER, JESUS CHRIST, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!

TEXTS: Luke 2: 1-20, Luke 3:23, 24: “Now Jesus…was the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat….”

Dearly Beloved In God’s Living Joy!

Most people know me as the silent statue in Nativity scenes standing behind a radiant virgin Mary. When others think of me the image of a statue also comes to mind—buried in the garden of a house for sale to mythically speed its turn-over! The fact is: most people don’t know much about me: Joseph, the earthly father of the Christmas King. So, tonight I want to inform you.

Did you know that King David was my direct ancestor? Like Mary, I, too, was of “the house of lineage of David.” That’s important because it helped fulfill some of God’s OT prophecies and thus adds to the proof claims of Jesus as our Messiah. I’m also one of the “poor relations” of this great clan. My finances were very limited, although I was a skilled artisan in Nazareth who made anything and everything for people. It took years to build up that business which I later left to my first-born, Jesus. So, by age 30 when I wed Mary, we were a struggling couple—just like some of you. Then when the Romans decreed the census in Bethlehem, I worried a lot about Mary. She was due anytime. It was a long walk of over 60 miles! Obviously my reputation took a huge hit in our little town when she was discovered to be “with child.” Everyone immediately smirked and thought the worst of her and me. Likewise, when she first told me the unbelievable story of an angel and an immaculate conception—I, too, thought it unbelievable. I felt so sorry for her to have all this happen and then to lie to me about it. I thought we had an honest relationship. Anyway, I was all set to quietly send her off and minimize the scandal when God’s angel also appeared to me and set me straight! From then on I didn’t care about the snickers. I took her home to be my wife. Me the older man and her the teenage bride!

When we finally got to Bethlehem that fateful night, Mary was exhausted, the inn was full to overflowing, I had little money, and the stable was it. At least the animals helped keep it warm. Then she went into labor. Did you know that your pastor’s great-grandmother birthed one of her own babies in a field all by herself and then walked home with that little one wrapped in her apron? Well, I won’t tell you the gory details, but let’s just say I was very “hands on” when it came to the birth of my first Son! Very soon the shepherds appeared with stories of angelic hosts appearing in the sky. Others came by, too. It was like Grand Central station! Everyone smiled at Mary, looked the Baby over, and congratulated me! But, of course, I knew that only God the Father deserved congratulations. I’m a sinner. I’m imperfect. I doubted Mary’s story at first and even tried to harden my heart a bit against her. But God broke through with His grace and worked kindness and compassion within me. Some of those who came by that night looked at Jesus and then at me and said: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON! I smiled politely and in my heart I said: Hardly!

And yet, Jesus really is exactly like His Father, but I’m not the father! His Father is God. The angels said it well: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord!” And then the angel choir added: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Those words of praise were not just directed to the Heavenly Father, they were also directed to Jesus. That’s because Jesus, that little Baby, was and is God! He is 100% God’s Son, which makes Him 100% God, while also being 100% human at the same time. This is the miracle of Christmas. This is what “incarnation” means. The heavens cannot contain God because He’s limitless. Yet, God decreed and agreed to be contained in the confines of a Baby’s flesh here in time and space in order to save mere humans like you and me. I know, I know, it’s mind-boggling. Yet, with God “all things are possible.” With God, salvation for lost, struggling sinners is His chief priority which overrules all others. And that’s what “my” Son was and is all about—giving His life in place of you and me to save us forever!

I’ll save the rest of my tale for another time as my “little one” is getting sleepy. After all, it’s been a boisterous night. But, I did want you to know that from now on, whenever people use that expression: Like Father, like Son think of my Son, think of His real Father, and remember that it was really all about you—saving you, uplifting you, comforting you, and finally giving you an eternal bed which far surpasses any manger. Sleep tight tonight as my Son, God’s Son, holds you in His almighty hands. Amen