Christmas is an occasion that most families took forward to. During Christmas, the bond of family is celebrated, strengthened and mended. If couples have been quarreling and squabbling, the reconcile and make peace with one another. Brothers who are at odds bury their hatchets and reconcile. Frayed relationships are refreshed and renewed. Christmas indeed is a celebration of the family as it is also a celebration of our salvation!
God is truly wise by sending His son, Jesus into an earthly family setting. Mary and Joseph were Jesus Christ’s family on earth who took care, nourished and raised him with love and security. So it is only fitting that we look at what the Bible is saying about Christmas and families. I believe that Jesus Christ was born into the family of Joseph and Mary so that we can have a wonderful model to follow.
So what are these lessons we could glean from Jesus’ early family. Consider:
- Joseph and Mary provided Jesus a godly lifestyle of obedience and faith.
Even before Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph already set the stage for Him to enjoy a godly family environment. Joseph and Mary were obedient servants of God. Their godliness were exemplified by their obedience (Matthew 1:18-25). Obedience is complying to and following what God wanted us to do. Joseph was a righteous man: morally upright, spiritually vibrant. Mary complied, surrendered, yielded herself, hands down, she accepted her destiny to be the mother of the Lord (Luke 1:38). Joseph and Mary raised Jesus in a responsible and vibrant spirituality.
You n I must present and set a godly lifestyle of obedience and faith to our children. It’s not enough that you are providing financial and material resources to your children. Equally important is providing them as well with spiritual resources and training that would make them spiritually strong. Give your children a godly upbringing based on scriptural teachings, prayer and spiritual disciplines such as church attendance, witnessing and responsible church membership. You might not have millions to give to them for their inheritance, but if you could pass to them a godly legacy, then they would grow up and become better than the ones with early wealth. Your obedience today as parents to God’s plans will be your children’s blessings tomorrow. You miss obeying God today, you are depriving your children of the blessings that will come through your obedience to God today (Exodus 20:4-5). Both evil and good things can be passed on as a legacy (Exodus 20:6) but choose to only pass what is going to be eternally beneficial for them!
- Joseph and Mary created a godly setting of positive affirmation, care and accountability.
Jesus enjoyed affirmation (Luke 2:19, John 1:45). God Himself is proud of Jesus. Remember when Jesus was being baptized, heaven opened, and the voice of the Father said, “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased.” He did not deny His Son; He recognized and expressed strongly how pleased He was of Him.
Joseph never denied Jesus nor he was detached from Him, as some would speculate. Far from it! On the contrary, Jesus actually enjoyed Joseph’s company and eventually, many in their town would call Jesus as “Joseph’s son” or the “son of the carpenter” (Luke 4:22, Matthew 13:55).
If Jesus on earth could use His heavenly Father’s affirmation and Joseph’s too, I do believe that our children could also use one, especially this Christmas. When was the last time, you looked at your child in the eyes and told them how precious they are to you and to God? How often do you talk to them about their potentials to be a servant in the kingdom of God? When they seek to know God and His plan for them, do you, as parents, encourage and affirm them? Or do you confuse them and with ambivalence, dampen their resolve and determination.
Joseph and Mary didn’t only affirm Jesus when our Savior was still a child, but they also made sure that the young Jesus be accountable to them. That’s why, when Jesus stayed in the temple, Joseph and Mary had to return to look for Jesus and when they found Him, they confronted our young Savior. As I study this event, I could only say that Joseph and Mary were not negligent and absentee parents. They were always for Jesus. Guiding, coaching and mentoring Jesus so that “he grew in wisdom and stature and in favor of God and men” (Luke 2:52)
- Mary never forsook her parental obligations to Jesus until the end.
Mary was there with Jesus though thick and thin, come high water or hell (John 19:25). Mary saw Jesus, her firstborn Son who never gave her any problem throughout 33 years of His life, hanging at the cross – bloodied, gasping for breath. She couldn’t do anything – but Mary stayed put and stayed she did until the end. She never also allowed the hardships and extreme challenges that were prophesied which will characterize her being a mother to Jesus (Luke 2:25). Even when Jesus had already returned to heaven, Mary remained among Jesus’ other disciples and became part of the church that her son started (Acts 1:14).
Parents, never forsake your children. You might always be there for them physically or emotionally, but are you forsaking them spiritually? Be your child’s number one fan, supporter and friend. Your child needs you and needed them too.
- Jesus repaid Joseph and Mary’s love with obedience.
Even though Jesus knew He was God and could command the whole universe to bow down to Him, He surrendered to the parental authority of Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:51). The greatest honor children could give to their parents is obedience. In the book of Romans, the reason why our society is evil today is because children from their younger years were disobedient to their parents. Our obedience will bring honor to our parents, and our disobedience will cause them a lot of pain. Jesus knew that the greatest action a child could ever do to the parent is obey. In fact, it’s one of the Ten Commandments. “Honor your father and mother so that you may live long in the land” (Exodus 20:12). By honoring your parents, children will surely enjoy longevity and prosperous life. So just as Jesus obeyed His parents, children today must also obey God.
By Bishop Jonathan Ferriol