Summer 2024

Daily Devotional: Monday, December 18 - The Bethlehem Baby

“‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.'” — Luke 1:38

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Babies change everything. That’s something all parents can relate to, and many know the sacrifice it takes to bring a baby into this world and to provide for them as they grow. Many athletes (and professionals in all industries) can face pressure to be at every practice and game — despite a pregnancy or birth of their child — as coaches and fans can be unforgiving if top results aren’t achieved. When their babies come, they have to figure out how to juggle the various areas of their lives, when to shift directions, or even whether to step away. In life in general, it’s not uncommon for parents to put their personal plans on pause for the good of their family, even if it is inconvenient, uncomfortable, or less than ideal for the time being.

When Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married, they may have envisioned waiting a bit to start a family. But suddenly, Mary found out she was pregnant even before she wed Joseph. Although they received reassuring words from Heaven, it still wouldn’t be convenient to bring a baby into the world given their circumstances.

Mary was frightened when she saw and heard the angel Gabriel, but his words gave her courage to follow God’s will for her life. “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David'” (Luke 1:29-32). Though Mary knew she saved herself for marriage, God needed to calm her fears and give her direction (vv. 34-37). Her response to the angel reflected her loyal heart for God (v. 38). She likely quickly realized the change in plans that would be required with this news, not to mention being the topic of the unforgiving talk of the town.

Once Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy, an angel also appeared to him to ease his mind and prevent him from breaking off his engagement to Mary. It was probably quite tough for Joseph to trust God since a virgin birth had never happened before, and many people wouldn’t believe that God could bring a baby in such an unusual way. “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet 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'” (Matthew 1:19-20). His reputation and life plans were also on the line with this news. But Joseph, too, was obedient to the Lord.

When we start to think about how the Christ child needed loving and devoted parents to put aside personal plans and provide a pleasant home for their baby, we can admire Mary and Joseph for their unselfishness. They made sure Jesus had everything He needed as He grew up until He started His ministry. They greatly experienced the pain (and glory) of God’s grand plan as they watched Him die on the cross and rise again.

No one hopes to experience burying a child. But Mary and Joseph knew God’s plan for a Messiah was necessary for all of us to receive the opportunity for salvation. They knew from the very beginning this Son they were given to raise would save His people from their sins, because the angel told Joseph, “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” (Matthew 1:21). This plan for their lives required sacrifice, changing plans, being uncomfortable and facing criticism, but they did it with full obedience and love for God. They glorified Him every step of the way.

May we look to the example of Mary and Joseph to follow His plans for our lives, and through it, we will glorify the Lord and point others to Him along the way.

— Bill Kent, Pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Sylvania, Georgia

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