Imperfect Christmas – Family (Luke 2:4-5)

MOTIVATE

If you could spend time with any person in our family, who would you spend it with?

  • Start with the Pastor… no, we hear him talk every week.
  • Alethia would be a wonderful starting point. She’s full of truth with her intelligence from reading over a hundred books each year. She’s a quiet spirit, so you wouldn’t have to worry about her talking too much.
  • Amiyah would be another wonderful choice. She’s a delight and joy with her fun energy. She loves to bake, and you would enjoy eating her treats; I recommend her zucchini bread.
  • Audry is just as wonderful. She’s the true middle child of five. Her strength and beauty is that she gets along with anyone and is happy to serve. And her funny wit is an added bonus.
  • Avee is the last daughter but not least. She’s a precious gift and lights up any room with her eyes and smile and charm, and she loves to cuddle.
  • And then there’s Zeke. While the boy has four sisters, he is all boy, loving to run, jump, and wrestle. His only downfall is he’s got some of his father’s looks and humor. He’s in trouble.

But, if you could spend time with any person in our family, you would undoubtedly choose Danielle. 

  • Danielle is the peacemaker and true glue of the family. When there’s a problem, everyone goes to Mom. We all know she’s always available and there’s really no problem she cannot solve. Her fortitude and faith surpass anyone I know, and our family is blessed to have her.

The Gospels open by telling the story of Jesus through the eyes of family. Today we will examine the family of Jesus, and though they were specially chosen by God, we also know they were imperfect. And that’s good news for us, because it means God can enter our life with grace and good blessings.

EXAMINE           Luke 2:4-5 / 2 truths about God’s relationship with imperfect families

Luke 2:1-5
1  In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
2  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.

4  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

God placed Jesus with an earthly family.

It is significant that when God seeks to change the world He starts with a family.

  • Creation started with Adam & Eve
  • After flood, a new world started with Noah and wife, with sons and their wives.
  • Nation of Israel began with Abraham & Sarah, then Isaac & Rebekah, and Jacob & Rachel.
  • Israel’s renewal revived w/ Moses w/ brother Aaron, along with sister Miriam and Moses’s wife Zipporah.
  • Israel’s advancement with greatest king started with Jesse and sons with youngest son David.
  • Jesus was born into a family. 

We know few facts about Joseph & Mary, but definitely very little of Joseph.

Joseph

  • From Bethlehem.
    • A small city outside of Jerusalem.
    • “House of bread” is birthplace to the bread of life.
    • Messianic prophecy Micah 5:2 “Bethlehem, you are small among the clans of Judah, [but] one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for [the Lord]. His origin is from antiquity, from eternity.”
  • From the line of David
    • David was promised his lineage would have an eternal throne (2 Samuel 7:12-13).  
    • Just as Matthew traces Jesus’s genealogical lineage through Joseph, His legal (adoptive) father, so too Luke connects Jesus to the line of David. In Roman times, a parent could disinherit a biological child, but an adopted child was freely chosen and desired, and thus became a permanent heir within that family; they could never be disinherited. So, Jesus permanently inherited the lineage of David through Joseph.
      • Likewise, we who trust in Christ are adoptive children of God and ceaseless beneficiaries of God’s blessings.
    • The lineage of Jesus – and David had great sinners, but Jesus is a greater Savior.
      • Joseph considered divorcing Mary but chose marriage and adoption of Jesus
      • David lied, committed adultery and murder
      • Ahaz offered child sacrifices.
      • Judah traded slaves and adulterer
      • Jacob was cheat and thief
      • Abraham was liar, gave away his wife twice and committed adultery
      • Terah was an unbeliever lacking faith
      • Adam was lazy in protecting his wife Eve
      • Matthew’s Gospel striking reveals five women: Tamar who seduced father inlaw; Rahab the harlot; Ruth the Gentile; Bathsheba wife of Uriah and committed adultery with David, and then there was Mary.
      • Some in family line are unknown, but God sees, cares and knows each name. Each has significance.
      • “If one searched the Old Testament for a more unlikely group of candidates for a messianic lineage, it is doubtful one could come up with a more questionable group.”[1] And yet, it was the unlikely and the outcaste that Jesus came to serve and save.
      • The lineage of Jesus reflects the veracity of Jesus in history, unlike mythical gods of Greek and Roman religions, Jesus is rooted in history and family.
  • Joseph was a builder / τέκτων (Mk 6:3; Mt 13:55). He was a craftsman, more likely a builder with stone based on the region of the day. Also gives light when Jesus says, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (cf. Lk 20:17-18; Ps 118:22; Ac 4:11-12; 1Pet 2:5).
  • Joseph was not a man of great means because he and Mary offered turtledoves rather than a lamb in sacrifice for his newborn son, which was an indication of poverty (Lev 12:8).
  • Joseph, similar to his OT namesake, had many dreams that God revealed guidance.
    • Angel said to marry Mary for she conceived by the Holy Spirit and to name child Jesus (Mt 1:20).
    • Angel said to flee to Egypt to avoid Herod’s murderous plot against children (Mt 2:13).
    • Angel said to return to Israel (Mt 2:19)
    • Angel said to not go to Judea but to settle in Nazareth (Mt 2:22)
  • Joseph was a righteous man and father (Mt 1:19; Lk 2:39-52). Joseph models for all parents what it means to be a steward of our children for the LORD.

Mary

  • Ordinary, small town girl from Nazareth (Lk 2:4-5)
  • Faithful to God
    • Virgin
    • Favored by God (Lk 1:28)
    • Servant of the Lord (Lk 1:38)
    • Soaked in OT Scripture (see her song Lk 1:46-55)
  • Betrothed with child (Lk 2:5). This phrasing is unique and culturally confusing to us. While Joseph and Mary were betrothed, their marriage was not consummated and technically not complete (Mt 1:25). An unmarried and pregnant couple traveling together creates a potential scandal in the Jewish social customs.[2] The fact these circumstances are included in the Bible give evidence of its truthfulness to the virgin birth.
    • Undoubtedly, Mary trained a toddling Jesus to follow her footsteps but eventually He would point her to follow His path and serve His purpose. Further, Mary’s nearness to Christ is unmatched as she was the only person to see Jesus take His first breath and breathe His last. May her example of nearness to Christ exhort us all to stay close to Jesus – during this Advent and all year long.
  • God values earthly family so much that He gave His Son parents, siblings, and extended family. Should we not also value the relationships and responsibility within our family?
    • Honoring parents – no age limit. (Ex 20; Prov 23:22; Eph 6; Col 3)
    • Providing for family is a mark of godliness (1 Tim 3:5; 5:8)
    • “Grandchildren are the crown  of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers” (Prov 17:6)

A practical application may simply be to look each family member in the eye and express your love for them and regularly seek to encourage them. God uses family members as the supreme means of our sanctification.
– – – > Going a step further, this includes in-laws. There’s a joke: “What’s difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted (ha!). But, the truth is inlaw family is equally important for unity, and the way we treat them is a mark of our spiritual maturity/immaturity.

– – – > One more step, this includes children with special needs of any age. Children with special needs, biological or by marriage, are no less valued by God and worthy of our care. I’m thankful for a church family who has modeled this with multiple families.

God placed Jesus with an eternal family.

God places a high value on earthly family, but an even greater value on eternal family.

Uniquely, Mary understood this.

  • Mary called her unborn child her Savior (Lk 1:46)
  • Simeon prophesied to Mary, “this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed – and a sword will pierce your own soul” (Lk 2:34). In other words, Mary was not sinless and the purposes of God to send Jesus to the cross would pierce Mary’s heart with this unwanted action. At the cross, she’s seen

While Mary was indeed important to the Son of God, she was imperfect. Jesus said, “My mother and my [siblings] are those who hear and do the word of God (Lk 8:21). Whether you had the bloodline of Israel, to Mary, or Jesus, is irrelevant to God. The only bloodline that counts is faith in the cross of Jesus, where His death and resurrection applies to us as adopted children of God.

Paul says, “In the fulness of time, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And you are sons/daughters, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child and heir of God” (Galatians 4:4-7)

God has no grandchildren – only children – meaning each person must relate to God on their own; there is only one mediator, Christ Jesus.

Illus. Adoptions are somewhat common in our day. Most families who adopt a child do not make the news. However, could you imagine if billionaires like Bill & Melinda Gates (Microsoft), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Warren Buffet, or others adopted a child? Their inheritance would be radically transformed from nothing to uncharted millions. The same can be said for those who are adopted into the family of God, becoming co-heirs with Christ with eternal treasures that will never fade or fail, and an eternal inheritance that is out of this world!

  • Only Jesus has the authority to take peasants and make them princes and princesses.
  • Only the gospel has the power to turn strangers and outsiders into citizens of a heavenly kingdom.
  • Only grace and mercy have the ability to turn delinquents and family dysfunction into being deeply loved by a faithful Father.
  • The Christian’s responsibility is to share locally.
    • invite others to a dinner feast like no other (Lk 14:23 “Go out into the highways and byways and make them come in, so that my house may be filled.”)
    • bring others into the family of God and populate heaven (Lk 15:7 “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.”)


Christians are not responsible for someone’s response to salvation, only our obedience to relay the message. Are we faithful with the opportunities God provides
– – – especially during a Christmas season all about the birth of Jesus.
– – – especially during a pandemic when so many are searching for solutions tangibly and spiritually.

—> Ask God to burden and break your heart for the vast lostness in our neighborhood and nations.
—> Ask God for open eyes to see and open mouth to speak of your faith and share the love of Jesus.
* Paul prayed these prayers: “Pray for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel… Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should” (Eph 6:19-20; cf. Col 4:3-5).  

  • The Christian’s responsibility is to give globally.
    – – – Mt 28:18-20 / Acts 1:8 Great Commission is simultaneous local and global.
    – – – “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9)
    —> IMB LMCO

APPLY/THINK

Final applications for “Imperfect Family”

There’s no such thing as a perfect family. But make no mistake, imperfect families of faith are not indifferent families. Imperfect families are not focused on asking, “Why is my family not perfect?” but instead is focused on “How can my family progress a next step?” Families of faith don’t know everything; they’re constantly learning and growing. When we stop growing, we stop living and start to die.

Here are a few ways to start growing as a family.

  • Safe communication. Every family needs to be a safe place to admit struggles, and even sin.
  • Scripture-centered. Our home should be a place that points us to hope in God. God’s word should show up on our walls, but more it should be shared in every room.
    • Bedrooms: personal reading
    • Kitchen/Dining tables/Living room couches: together reading. Start plans now for 2021. What book / devotional plan will you choose?  
  • Share charitably. God’s people are not hoarders, but share grace and generosity with others. This Christmas season we should look to give above and beyond – a) because we have been blessed by God, b) because the days are short before Christ’s return.
  • Start with Christ. If you are overwhelmed with all the suggestions and sermon today, then just start with Jesus. Trust in Him. Talk with Him. And don’t stand still – indifference and inactivity is a sign of flatline… but Jesus is a lifeline. Reach out!

[1] Mounce, Robert H, Matthew, vol. 1 of New International Biblical Commentary, (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991), 8.

[2] Edwards, J. R. (2015). Pillar NT Commentary: Luke 2:4-5 (p. 72).

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