A few days ago, as I sought some quiet time away from the frantic pace of life, I turned on the television and was browsing for a distraction. I came upon a rebroadcast of the miniseries “Jesus of Nazareth” being shown on TBN. I came in fairly early in the show as Joseph was practicing his carpenter trade and preparing to take Mary as his betrothed.
As the narrative continued, I was absent mindedly in a mode of critiquing the story for its lapses relative to the scriptures. I noted that the side story of Zacharias’ encounter with the angel Gabriel was not included in the story. As my cynicism reigned, I was viewing the part where Joseph was considering what to do with Mary, now that she was with child – not something he was willing to accept. The story also left out the dream that Joseph received:
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 1:19-20)
I could just imagine what Joseph had been thinking. Here, he is trying to set up a carpentry business and establish himself as a solid member of the community and of the church when, BAM, his betrothed is with child. What are the people going the think? How is this going to affect his new business? What will the elders think when they count the months between his marriage and the birth of what appeared to be his son?
Joseph, based on the guidance received in a dream, proceeds with his marriage to Mary.
As I continued watching, I was overwhelmed by what I can only call revelation. My cynicism was interrupted by a flash of pure knowledge, for lack of a better term. My mind was redirected to the scripture:
And the angel said unto me again: Look and behold the condescension of God! (1 Nephi 11:26)
Christ was born to Mary and all who knew them could count the days between her marriage to Joseph and the child’s birth. He would likely have been, to those who were not spiritually aware of the circumstances, viewed as an illegitimate offspring of two people who couldn’t control their passions.
Here is the Savior of the world born into circumstances that could have subjected him to shame and ridicule due to events beyond His control. Much like the shame imposed on young people who find themselves unexpectedly preparing for parenthood. When I was young, the stigma was much stronger than it is in this day of ‘living together.’ and the optional status of marriage. But that is another topic.
I came away with another profound (for me, at least) appreciation for how God condescended below all of our sins and weaknesses. What greater burden could He carry than to hear the whispers of those around him breathing shame into His entry into the world? How should we approach our lives when we consider how Christ was, by necessity, required to carry all the humiliation and stilted criticism much like we must do in our lives?
As I approach this time when we are supposed to be remembering the birth of Christ, I pray that the majesty of His humble entry into the world is not overwhelmed by the dollar signs of the holiday season. I pray that we may all take a moment to realize that, from the moment He entered mortality, He was likely the recipient of ridicule.
It is our task to turn our eyes and our hearts to the Lord – to recognize Him as our Savior and Redeemer, to read and study His life and teachings and apply them to ourselves.
May we use these ‘holy days’ that are upon us to recommit to the task of coming unto Christ. I am reminded of a statement by Joseph Smith:
Search the scriptures – search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God, nor will there be any room for speculation. No; for when men receive their instruction from Him that made them, they know how He will save them. (TPJS, Section 1)
May I wish all who have come to this humble site a merry Christ mass and may the start of a new calendar year bring you true joy.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.