Lesson 3 -- first quarter 1993
December 20, 1992
© Copyright 1992
It should make such a difference as exists between light and darkness, between good and evil, between self and selflessness.
Jesus marked the Way, chosing the lowest route. The birth of Jesus should be more than a historical event to us. His birth ought to stimulate us to walk that lowest route. He said, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
This lowest route and this selflessness require an humble state of mind. We choose to live as servants to others. We choose to resign the pampered lifestyle most of us enjoy. We choose to suffer the death of self in order to benefit others. We choose to advance the interests of others at the expense of our own plans and desires. And we do all this motivated by a pure, unfeigned love for God and the brotherhood.
What does this have to do with Jesus' birth? I answer with another question -- What did it cost Jehovah to be born as a child named Jesus?
I refer to the stigma, reproach and shame attached to their assignment.
Mary had to willingly and silently bear the accusations of inmorality and infidelity. She had to willingly and silently suffer almost complete misunderstanding of her condition. She had to live with her situation as though it were a real disgrace and blemish on her character. Her reputation was that of a fallen girl.
Joseph had to live with one or both of two charges -- "Fornicator!" and/or "Fool!" He couldn't protest his utter innocence in Mary's pregnancy. Nobody would believe his fantastic tale. Neither could he explain why he would marry a girl pregnant with another man's child. As far as most people were concerned, Joseph was either an immoral young man who had to marry Mary or a fool for marrying a sleaze and a ruin.
Even thirty years later, the infamy of Jesus' conception followed Mary. (We are left to assume that it also followed Joseph to the day of his death.) Jesus' enemies gloated in their own legitimacy, "We be not born of fornication" (John 8:41).
No, God doesn't want you for Joseph and Mary's task; Jesus won't come again that way. However, God may call you to humble yourself to a similar extent in a different or even related area. Do you love God enough and are you submitted enough to His will that you will even bear reproach, shame and misunderstanding for Him and for others. God may even now be looking for a Joseph to love and marry a humiliated girl. God just might be searching for a Mary who will work among prostitutes.
God freely and generously gave His best to those who had never given Him anything of significant value. God even gave His best knowing that most would give nothing in return. We have become conformed to the world in our Christmas-time gift giving. Has the time arrived when we should come to an agreement in our churches and in our families that we will give their gift and their card to the needy instead? "And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same" (Luke 6:33; see also 14:12-14).
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