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The Reason For The Season
Some Reflections

The Old Gray Dog Ponders -- The Advent of the Messiah
By Rev. James Tuckett

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and 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."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matthew 1: 18-25

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge -- even to ourselves -- that we've been so credulous.
Carl Sagan

Have you ever wondered why Joseph would consider divorcing a woman he was only pledged to? Why does Scripture refer to him as Mary's husband?

At the time Jesus was born, Jewish marriages consisted of three steps:
1. Engagement. This could occur while the individuals were still children. Marriages were arranged in order to protect the young from
the follies of the heart."
2. Betrothal (pledge). This was the stage at which Mary and Joseph
found themselves. In the eyes of their community, they were considered
husband and wife. The only way to terminate the pledge was through
3. Marriage Proper. After a year of betrothal the actual marriage ceremony was performed. Only now could the couple live together.

In Matthew's account of the birth of the Messiah, there are three main participants: Mary, Joseph, and the Holy Spirit. What do we know about these three?
Mary was very young, perhaps only in mid-teens. She was of the tribe of Judah, so she was of the royal line that went back to King David. It is through Mary's family that Luke traces Jesus' heritage.
Joseph may have been older. Since Jesus had to assume the duties of head of household, many have suggested that Joseph died before Jesus began His ministry. He, too, was of the House of David, and a member of the tribe of Judah. It is through Joseph's family that Matthew traces Jesus' heritage. Joseph was a carpenter by trade. But perhaps the most important thing about him was his willingness to do the loving thing at great personal expense in the community.
Think about it: Mary received the announcement from the angel that she would bear a child. She leaves and goes to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, for 3 months. When she returns, quite obviously pregnant and tells her betrothed that the child is of the Holy Spirit. How many men, of any era, do you think would believe this? I think Joseph was an outstanding choice for stepfather.
But Who is the Holy Spirit? First, the Holy Spirit is a Who, not a What. He is the third Person of the Trinity. He brought, and continues to bring, divine Truth to God's people. He enables God's people to recognize Truth. He regenerates sin-dead people so they can live life as God meant it to be lived.
Why is it important that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and not a human father? (In other words, do we really need to believe in the Virgin Birth/?) Because Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and not a human father:

* He can enable us to see Who God is (divine incarnation).
He is free from a corrupt human nature, so He is the only One who could pay the price for our sins and guarantee our eternal security.

Two other reasons believing and understanding this doctrine are important:
1. The Bible says Jesus conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. If that isn't true, how can we be sure the rest of what the Bible says is true?
Is the Bible God's infallible rule of faith and life or is it a loose-leaf resource from which we can pick and choose what we would like to believe?
2. Was Jesus God Incarnate, or merely a really good man? If He was the supernatural God/Man, it stands to reason that His birth would be supernatural. If He were merely a natural-born man, then He would be in no position to pay the price for our sins, or to reconcile us to God.

"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn't be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on the level with a man who says he's a poached egg -- or else he would be the devil of hell; you must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But don't come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. He hasn't left that alternative open to us."
C. S. Lewis

    The Hope of Christmas stands or falls on the doctrine of the Virgin Birth.

Almighty God, who hast given us Thine only begotten Son to take our nature upon Him, and to be born of a pure virgin:
Grant that we, being regenerate and made Thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by Thy Holy Spirit; we pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Spirit, ever one God, world without end.
Blessed are the saints who are equipped with the sound doctrines of TULIP!