Christmas Profiles in Courage
December 24, 2006 • By Ed Wrather
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. - Luke 2:1-7.
During this holy and sacred season of Christmas, it has been noted that many are depressed, lonely, and discouraged - perhaps more so than at any other time of the year. It can be very difficult - since memories of the past come to mind during this time. These memories often conflict with the realities of the present. It can be very difficult for some to continue living life. We all could use some courage and inspiration during this time when so much is not right with the world, and so many face difficult times.
President John F. Kennedy wrote a book called "Profiles in Courage". This described the political courage and integrity of eight United States senators from history. We still need this kind of courage and integrity.
With the Christmas story we are given several profiles of courage and integrity. The wise men, called Magi, in the Bible we can observe as men of great courage. They followed a star which was not seen by others. They followed it for many months from their home country across dangerous lands, to worship the newborn King of Kings. The Magi were not only wise, they were also brave and they were determined to be obedient to what they believed God had called them to do.
Mary, although very young, gives us a tremendous example of courage and obedience to God. She was engaged, and in all respects except for living with Joseph, was considered his wife. For her to have a child out of wedlock would make her appear as an adulteress. The penalty for adultery could be execution by stoning. She knew that, but was obedient to her Lord.
Joseph, also demonstrates courage. He had already decided to hide Mary privately, to avoid additional horrendous experiences (i.e. stoning) for her. After he had the dream from God, he determined to proceed with his marriage even though the child was not his, and even though everyone would know that it was not his child. It took courage and a determination to be obedient to God, for Joseph to do what he did.
We also have the example of the courage of our Lord and Savior. Jesus came down from the glories of Heaven, to be born into the family of a poor carpenter, to walk upon this earth for 33 years as a human being. He came for the purpose of suffering and dying. He came to be the perfect sacrifice in an unspeakable death on the cross. Jesus knew this and yet, He still came because, "God so loved the world…."
Yes, Heaven came down some 2,000 years ago to give us a Savior. Heaven came down and we have the Christmas story, because of incredible courage and obedience of all those involved. Let their courage and their obedience encourage you and give you strength to move forward to see God’s ultimate will, and purpose to be fulfilled in your own life.
May you have a most blessed and wonderful Christmas!!