Within The Fellowship
With the coming of Christmas it is good to take stock of what it is all about. The actual events surrounding the birth of Jesus have been so warped and twisted by tradition that most people have little idea exactly what the Bible tells us even if they read the story or have it read to them.
We know very little about Mary of Nazareth. She was entrusted with the task that every pious woman in Israel longed to do ‑ give birth to and bring up the Messiah. Mary was devoted to God and had a wonderful poetical gift. Her husband, Joseph was an honest, hard working man and they almost certainly lived in a very small simple home. Jesus was born in some place that had a manger ‑ a peasant cottage like their own perhaps or in some form of stabling but we are not told. While at Bethlehem, participating in the census, they entertained shepherds from the Judean hillside and magi from a far off land. These wise men from the east visited them at a house when Jesus was already a young child of 1-2 years. Who were these men who had come so far to see Jesus and what were their religious beliefs? Why did they need to ask the way to the royal palace in Jerusalem? Was Herod such an evil man compared to the rulers of his time ‑ or at any time in history? Something had caused men to call him 'the great'.
Mary treasured much in her memory as she went about her household tasks taking care of a lively family of boys and girls. Luke captures the story well and preserved some wonderful material which Mary and perhaps others had told him. In spite of all the tradition it remains a lovely story and a wonderful token that God cares about the human race and is doing something about its plight?
We know tantalisingly little about Jesus' early life but the one record of the trip to Jerusalem when He was 12 years old is quite revealing but still leaves us asking many questions. Was he excited at the prospect of such a journey? Did his brothers and sisters go too? However does one lose a 12 year old intelligent boy? How did they view the idea that God was 'Father'?
We know enough. If more facts had been given the traditions would have multiplied still more. The Gospels, like the rest of the Bible are teaching books and not text books or autobiographies. They tell us enough to teach us how to live to the Glory of God; how to come to know Him and how to follow Jesus. They are Gospels of salvation and tell us enough of how our Saviour came to be like us so that we might become like Him.
We wish you a very blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with His joy.
"For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Cor. 8,9)