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January 16, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.”—Luke 1:38 (NIV)
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”—Matthew 1:24–25 (NIV)
God values family. All throughout Scripture, we see that we’re designed to live in community with one another. Our families are a wonderful form of God-given community, and as we look at Luke 1:26-38 and Matthew 1:18-25, let’s evaluate how God uses marriage, parenting, and family to cultivate certain biblical attributes within each of us.
God could have written Jesus’ story any way He wanted. He could have introduced Him to the world as a highly-favored king, a military official, or someone of much wealth and importance. All of those emphasize temporary significance and earthly standards of merit. Rather, He intentionally chose to bring Jesus into the world as an infant and to be born into a family unit.
God brought Mary and Joseph together as husband and wife, to be Jesus’ parents, creating a family for Him to be born into. Families and the relationships within draw our attention to and reveal various attributes of God’s character. Marriage points us to the relationship between Christ and the Church. Parenthood reveals God’s heart towards His own children. Lastly, family emphasizes belonging and security that each individual desires and searches for. God uses all of these as tools for sanctification and a further pursuit of holiness. He refines us through the joys and challenges that marriage, parenting, and family bring!
Let’s first look at how God’s heart is illuminated through marriage. He modeled and called us to selflessness, sacrifice, humility, honor, mercy, and to lay down our own desires for the sake of others, just as He did for the Church. Mary and Joseph experienced this immediately as a betrothed couple. Joseph had to walk in mercy and honor Mary even in a moment of embarrassment and confusion. When culture and natural inclination was leading him to divorce her, he chose to trust the Lord and remain faithful to her and what the Lord was calling Him to do.
In the same way, parenting demonstrates the loving care, patience, selflessness, forgiveness, grace, and consistency of our heavenly Father. He is quick to forgive us when we wander or disobey Him, and He gives us His Word to reassure us even when we doubt. We see God meet Joseph and Mary in their doubts when He sends angels to speak to them on His behalf. As parents, He calls us to intentional involvement in our children’s lives just as He is with us. He is present and quick to comfort, but also displays this beautiful balance of gentle but strong correction when needed.
Finally, family highlights the security, openness, respect, belonging, and support our Lord so graciously offers. If we’re searching for these things primarily in people, we’ll always find ourselves disappointed and unsatisfied. But when we find our identity, security, and belonging first and foremost in Christ, we’re aligning with how God has designed family and community to operate. This is a life-giving gift.
Mary and Joseph were entering a lonely season due to their obedience to God. They would hardly feel like they belonged because of the assumptions and speculations surrounding what God was doing in their lives, but they found security in knowing God was near and that He was doing a work that was much larger than the two of them.
Marriage, parenting, and family help us to grow in our dependence on the Lord as we are being shaped and stretched, refined and transformed. Without Him, we could not obtain the attributes that are necessary for healthy and strong relationships in our marriages, parenting, and families. Jesus’ birth points us to the importance of these relationships and how each of them illuminates attributes of God our Father.