December 7, 2011 Devotion Sharing (What Child is This?)

Submitted by Allen C. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

What can you learn from Joseph’s “righteousness” (v. 19)?

Joseph’s righteousness translated into treating Mary with mercy even before the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and reassured him of Mary’s faithfulness. It would have been understandable for Joseph to be outraged, angry, and hurt to find out that the woman to whom he was pledged to be married was pregnant. According to the law, he could have had Mary stoned to death for committing adultery. However, Joseph had in mind to divorce her quietly instead of exposing her to public disgrace. He chose to bear the pain and anger he might have felt. Instead of being caught up in his emotions, he exercised self-restraint and self-denial, refusing to indulge in the feelings he must have had inside—the desire for justice, to exact revenge, to be proven innocent of coming together before marriage. He chose instead to have mercy on her and do what was best for her. And in doing so, Joseph took on the humiliation of what the public sentiment must have been. In the eyes of the community, since Joseph didn’t claim Mary wrong doing publicly, they must have assumed the responsibility of this disgrace on Joseph.

Reflect on the mission of Jesus–his reason for being born–as described in Matt 1:21, and answer the question: “What child is this?”

The mission of Jesus was to save people from their sins. It was to undo the curse of sin, to offer amnesty to rebellious man, to declare peace to those who are far away, to reconcile God and sinners. It was not to bring political peace or independence, not to ensure economic stability or redistribute wealth or end poverty, not to provide the cure for all sickness and disease, not to become a successful phenomenon, not to find a renewable energy solution, not to establish the perfect human government. God could have sent someone into the world to do all of these good things, but the fact that Jesus came to address sin shows how serious a problem it is and how helpless we are to do anything about it. It shows that sin is our greatest problem that it took no less than the Son of God to deal with sin. The whole purpose of Jesus’ life was to die on the cross to reconcile us to God. This child, then, is Christ, the King, the One who can deliver us from our sins by dying on the cross and being the rightful Lord over our lives. He is the King of Kings who brings salvation, who defeats sin and death, who brings us back home to the waiting Father. He came to do what no one else could do: wash away our iniquity, our guilt, our shame, and our rebellion, and absorb it all on the cross.

Write a personal response to the fact that Jesus came to save me from my sin, and to destroy the work of the serpent.

I’m so amazed and thankful that Jesus came into this world as a vulnerable and helpless baby, that the whole purpose of his life was to die and take the punishment that I deserve for my sins. In the person of Jesus, God completely emptied Himself and poured out His life for others. Jesus came into the world to not to condemn the world, but to save the world through him, and that includes saving me from my sin. He came to address the brokenness in my own life, the emptiness, the hopelessness, the anger, and the hunger I had for the love I was missing because I was cut off from God. Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the Babe, the Son of Mary! He came to reconcile me to God, to reverse the curse of sin, and to destroy the work of the serpent who only brought lies and enmity. For this, Jesus deserves my highest praises and adoration.

Write a prayer of personally enthroning Jesus in your life.

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son Jesus into the world and into my life, for pleading for sinners such as me. You rescued me when I had no hope or power to save myself. Who would have thought that You, the King of Kings, would come so humbly and so vulnerably into the world? You had such a lowly birth and a lowly death in order to identify with sinners such as me. You paid a price higher than I could have paid, pouring out Your life in order that my iniquity could be washed away. All the while, You are the King of all Kings, the true and rightful Lord over my life, and I want to respond by surrendering my life to You. As we celebrate the coming of baby Jesus into the world during Christmas, may You be the King over my whole life—my time, my resources, my energy, my will, my hopes and dreams, all that I hold dear—as You are the true and good and rightful King.

Submitted by Hannah Y. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

What can you learn from Joseph’s “righteousness (v.19)?”

I can learn that Joseph’s righteousness came from being someone who was practiced at denying his own feelings and impulses.  From this account, I can really learn something about what it means to be righteous before God.  As someone who was pledged to be married and to find out this news, Joseph’s feelings would have been telling him to be outraged, to be vengeful towards Mary, and to indulge in anger.  He probably felt so hurt upon hearing the news that the woman he was to marry was with child.  However, instead of acting out of his feelings, Joseph instead thinks of Mary instead of himself.  He didn’t want to expose her to public disgrace so he decided in his mind to divorce her quietly.  I thought about the fact that he even had these thoughts in his mind.  That means he was thinking about what would be the right thing to do, and he was not irrational or acted out based on his feelings or his ego.  Then it says that he was considering this, implying that there was some time between the news and his response.  This is also something I can learn from Joseph.  For me, I catch myself being such a person of strong emotions.  When I hear something perplexing or if I am hurt by someone, I often automatically react with words and feelings that later are out of place because I did not get the whole story.  I often just want to react and say something quickly.  But choosing to be righteous lends a person to have self-control.  In that sense, it is someone who is meek and humble.  Someone who is not out of control but someone who is can take the time to consider and react out of love and grace toward the other person.  Even when the situation seems pretty clear, like in this situation, that a certain party is in the wrong, I can learn that there may be something that I am not considering.  In my daily life, I come across situations where I need to heed this lesson from Joseph.  In the past, I have reacted out of my own pride, emotions, feelings of hurt and betrayal, but have ended up regretting things that I have said to people and the way that I reacted.  I shudder when I think about those instances.  I want to commit to having this picture of Joseph, being someone who is so righteous and trusting in God and being able to humbly consider the other person before I act.

Ultimately, I can learn that through Joseph’s righteousness, Jesus was able to be birthed and salvation brought to the world, all the way down to me.  I can learn that even in this one act of humility and trust in God in this situation, Joseph’s righteousness actually brought blessing upon blessing for generations to come.  He probably did not know the kind of repercussions this had, but God knew.  Joseph’s obedience and ability to take Mary in as his wife allowed God in the flesh to be birthed into life and bring salvation to many.  In the same way, I do not know how my acts of humility and trust in God will bless future generations.

Reflect on the mission of Jesus–his reason for being born–as described in Matt 1:21, and answer the question: “What child is this?”

This is the child, through whom all the prophecies point to, from the beginning of Scripture.  In this child, God, enthroned in heaven, became flesh and came to the earth of be with His creation.  God himself took on the form of man, so that He could reveal himself to us and provide a way to reconcile our relationship with him. This child is the one who will save his people from their sins, who solves that greatest problem and the greatest need of all mankind.  This child is the one who will grow up to be subject to the cruelty and sins of the entire world–to be mocked, beaten, flogged, ridiculed and humiliated, and nailed to the cross and suffer the penalty of our sins.  This child is the one who will come back to life and provide a place for us in heaven.

Personally for me, this child is the one who has changed my life from one that was full of darkness and destined toward eternal death, to one of life and eternity with God.  This child is what my whole life hangs on.  He has given me hope for life and a purpose for living because through His life, I know that this world is not my home and my real home awaits me.  This child is the one who concretely shows me how much my Heavenly Father loves me and that He is willing to go to this length to show me that He wants a personal relationship with me.  This child is what has brought me such an abundant life, full of people, full of richness of fellowship and love, full of grace, full of purpose and meaning, full of good work to do, full of hope of heaven, full of hope for others.  This child is Christ my Lord and whom I will praise and worship all the days of my life.

Write a personal response to the fact that Jesus came to save me from my sin, and to destroy the work of the serpent.

As I reflect on the fact that Jesus came to save me from my sin and to destroy the work of the serpent, the only proper response is to live a life of gratitude and always remember the truth that my life was bought at a price and it is not my own.  I still amazes me and boggles my mind that God would come to reveal himself to me in such a humble way.  He came as a helpless baby, and like this hymn says, “Why lies he in such mean estate?” It is because of His love for me and His zeal to save me from my sin.  I really want to commit to being someone who lives with this sense of gratitude and love toward others.  To tell others about who Jesus is so that others can also receive His gift of being saved from their sins and to destroy the work of Satan in their lives.


Submitted by John C. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

What can you learn from Joseph’s “righteousness (v.19)?”

The text describes Joseph as righteous because he did not want to expose Mary to public disgrace.  This is a remarkable thing, considering the situation that he finds himself in.  His betrothed has been found with child, which can only mean that there was adultery.  The life that he envisioned and had in mind of starting a family and a happy life together with his new wife is shattered.  He must be experiencing both grief and anger at Mary for this betrayal.  Without the facts of what really happened, Joseph has the right to lash out and expose her.  Joseph could have claimed it as his right to exact some personal justice on his betrayer, but he doesn’t.  Joseph’s righteousness lies in the way he lays down his rights and dies to himself and has mercy on Mary.  In the thick of his emotion he has enough space in his heart to consider Mary and to have compassion on her.  Righteousness is not merely a Pharisaic obedience to a moral code—it’s having this kind of heart of mercy and compassion on others at the cost of giving up your rights and whatever justice you are due. 

Reflect on the mission of Jesus–his reason for being born–as described in Matt 1:21, and answer the question: “What child is this?”

Jesus’ mission was to save his people from their sins. Sin has ravaged humanity since the day it entered through Satan’s tempting, and Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Yet on the very day that sin entered into humanity, God had a plan for salvation and redemption. Jesus is the fulfillment of even this prophecy from the very early days of human history, the offspring who would destroy death, and bring life and immortality. This child who lies so humbly in Mary’s lap in the middle of a stable is the answer to the problem of sin, the promised Messiah that would save the people from their sins. This child is the one who would once and for all defeat death and redeem mankind from sin.

Write a personal response to the fact that Jesus came to save me from my sin, and to destroy the work of the serpent.

Jesus has came not only into the world, but specifically into my life and has saved me from a life of emptiness and sin.  The work of the serpent (Satan) is mainly to deceive, and I was so wrong about what is truly valuable and worth pursuing.  Not only this, but Jesus has also saved me from harmful and destructive ways of relating to other people, and trying to find my significance and worth through worldly achievements.  I’m so thankful that today I find myself on the road of redemption where before I was on the road towards destruction.  Now Jesus has commissioned me to work alongside him as he continues his mission to save people from their sins and to reverse the work of Satan in their lives.  God has called me to be his agent of peace, and a minister of reconciliation.  It’s a privilege and honor not only to find myself in the company of the redeemed, but also to be entrusted with the rescue mission of bringing God’s hope of salvation to those without hope.

Write a prayer of personally enthroning Jesus in your life.

Jesus, you are the king of my life.  Forgive me for stubbornly trying to hold onto the throne of my life, for wanting control over my life.  Lord, you are the rightful owner of my whole life.  When I put myself on the throne, and denied you the authority to rule over my life, what resulted was sin, a sense of emptiness, and a restless anxiety towards life.  Jesus, I surrender my desire to make something out of myself and any kind of drive for worldly power and significance to your much grander agenda of saving people.  Lord, may your cares become my cares, and your burdens become my burdens, and your joys become my joys.  May your will be done in my life.

Submitted by Linda K. from Gracepoint Riverside

What can you learn from Joseph’s “righteousness (v. 19)?”

What I can learn from Joseph’s righteousness is that he did not focus solely on himself, but looked out for the interest of others. The person in this case was Mary. Though he had the right to divorce Mary because she was with a child before they had come together, he did not because he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace”. This means he was willing to take the hurt and pain of what had happened to him rather than placing it on Mary. I recognize that being right is not as important as doing the more loving thing. There are so many times I would prefer to be right and enact justice so that I can feel like things are fair, but I seldom think about the implications it has on the other person and the relationship. From Joseph I learn the importance of having an “other-centered” attitude rather than a “self-focused” attitude. From verse 19 it is clear that he thought about the implications of divorcing her, so he chose to do it quietly. I learn that to be an other-centered person it requires me to think out the details and the implications of my actions rather than acting on my impulse or to quickly judge and condemn the person. I need to put on the same attitude that Joseph had especially as God has placed so many people in my life to love and protect them.

Reflect on the mission of Jesus–his reason for being born–as described in Matt 1:21, and answer the question: “What child is this?”

Jesus was no mere child. He came into the world to save us from our sins. He was destined to do this in Genesis 3:15 when man first sinned. He was the seed of the woman and he was going to “crush” the head of the serpent and have victory over it. So it is appropriate that the “angels greet with anthems sweet” because through him he was going to do what man could not do.  No one could have imagined that this child would be the savior of the world because he came in the world so lowly and unpronounced. He had been placed in the manger where “ox and animals” were feeding yet He is the King of Kings and through him salvation will come. It’s sometimes hard to believe that God would choose to come in the form of a helpless young baby because we often think that it is through power and strength that can save, but this is the worldly view. God’s wisdom and ways are so much higher. The kind of birth he had through a peasant couple and born in stable and laid in a manger reminds me of God’s humility and desire to relate to me.

Write a personal response to the fact that Jesus came to save me from my sin, and to destroy the work of the serpent.

Long before I was born, God had already worked out a salvation plan for me through the birth of Jesus and his death on the cross. God’s promise of Jesus into the world is the greatest gift I could have ever received because apart from him, I would be helpless against Satan’s schemes and deceitfulness. So thanks be to God for bringing Jesus into the world to be my lord and savior. When I was in darkness and following my own ways I was filled regret and shame, while trying to find significance and unconditional love by gaining the approval and acceptance of others–all of which cannot be found in the world. Thankfully, through Jesus, I have learned that I am eternally loved and accepted because He came into the world to be with me and rescue me out of the miry pit of my sins. As I have grown in my relationship with God through his word, I have seen how He has destroyed the work of the serpent by guiding me on a lighted path – to help me make decisions that honor him and to live a surrendered life modeled after Jesus.

Write a prayer of personally enthroning Jesus in your life.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for bringing Jesus into the world to be with me and to be the savior of my sins. I recognize that Jesus was no mere babe, but the one you had promised long before I was born to crush the serpent’s head and to defeat sin and death. So Jesus is worthy to be the King of King and the one who sits on the throne of my life. I recognize that following you and your commands is the only right and best way to live as I have experienced the emptiness and uncertainty of life on my own. God, may my life be a living sacrifice for your gift of salvation and eternal life. To you I bring all my time, effort, money, resources, relationships, emotions, mind and everything of worth because freely you have given these things to me and freely I offer them back to you. I love you, Jesus. In your name, I pray, Amen.

 

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