The first book of the New Testament opens with the genealogy of Joseph, the step-father of Jesus. Most people fall asleep trying to read through stuff like this. It’s a lot easier reading the genealogy of Jesus Christ’s birth Father. It’s a short list – just one - God.
But I find this longer list fascinating because of one reason – mercy.
In fact, there is no other piece of literature in history that demonstrates more dramatically the patience and mercy of God than these few verses.
This list of Joseph’s ancestors would be unthinkable except for one thing – it’s true. We find here one of the most concentrated collections of fallen humanity anywhere. There are idolaters, adulterers, prostitutes, child-sacrificers, temple-desecraters, fornicators, murderers, and I could go on. (Reminds me of the evening news.)
Ok - confession time - I am actually grateful for this list – this family tree.
For one thing, it is yet another confirmation of the validity of the biblical record. I mean, nobody, especially a 1st Century Jewish man, would associate a genealogy like this with the step-father of his Messiah, unless it was true.
But the main reason I am grateful is - not only is fallen humanity revealed here, the grace of God is revealed - like nowhere else. Think about it, this list is a huge wall poster for divine patience. When I look back on my life, I realize that it is just another addition to “the list.” But thankfully Jesus did not come to save saints but sinners.
He loves you so much; He will accept you just as you are;
But He loves you too much to leave you that way!
Ó 2005 C. E. Briggs
THE FIRST CHRISTMAS
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son,
and they shall call His name Immanuel,"
which is translated,
"God with us."
This verse reminds me of the film, Back to the Future.
Matthew sort of puts us into a time machine, sets the dial for 7 centuries back, and then pushes the button! Instantly, we are in the presence of an amazing and famous prophet of God – the Prophet, Isaiah.
And what do we hear?
We hear of a Child conceived of the Holy Spirit.
We hear of God stepping out of eternity into time and space -
To save His people from their sins.
This is why Christianity is so unique.
Man could not reach God. So God reached man!
Seven Hundreds years before it took place,
Isaiah said people will look at the Child and say,
“Jesus is God with us!”
They did in the first century – they still do today.
That is the real story of The First Christmas.
Not red wagons and BB guns or chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
It starts with:
The Holy Spirit, a Carpenter, and a Virgin Maiden -
In a small town, where one day:
God spoke - a human egg responded - The Seed was formed.
Shepherds worshipped - Angels sang.
The Hosts of Heaven leaned forward in wonder!
And the Lord of Glory drew His first breath in a stable.
God became flesh. And nothing is the same.
Ó 2005 C. E. Briggs
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
When Herod the
king heard this, he was troubled, and all
said to him, "In
'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.'"
The ancient hamlet of Bethlehem - what we might call a bedroom community to Jerusalem just a few miles to the south - is the birthplace of Jesus Christ, the Son of God – exactly as the prophet Micah told the people of Israel seven centuries earlier.
These men that King Herod consulted were well versed in the prophecy of where Jesus was to be born. And no wonder, they were the community leaders of God’s people and the guidance counselors in God’s Word.
But knowledge without wisdom is a dangerous thing. These religious leaders knew the implications of telling Herod where the Savior was to be born, and they told him anyway – revealing the darkness in their hearts.
They had excellent Scriptural knowledge, but they had zero wisdom.
It is always a good thing to ask God:
1) To search our hearts,
2) To check our motives,
3) To take away anything that displeases Him, and
4) To lead us in the path of godly behavior.
Would you do that? Would you ask the Lord to search you, and lead you, and keep you, and make you all that He would want you to be?
Ó 2005 C. E. Briggs
Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared.
sent them to
Of course we know that Herod had no intentions of
coming to worship the Toddler in
I run into so many different types of people everyday, and occasionally
I encounter people like Herod. Honestly, at times they just challenge my patience to the very limit. Don’t get me wrong - I want to reflect Christ – I really do, but just being around them is like sandpaper on my soul!
So what do I do? What do you do!?
1) How can I possibly show goodness to that family member?
2) How can you ever show patience to that co-worker?
3) How can I even imagine showing kindness to that store clerk?
4) How can you return gentleness for rudeness to that waiter?
The questions of “how” could go on and on. What we need is an answer to the question, “How can I show love to the Unlovable?”
Here’s a few ideas that have helped me.
1) Pray for yourself – your feelings towards the person.
2) Pray for the person – immediately, and if needed, everyday.
3) Be a blessing – relieve the person in some way.
There are many other ideas we could list that show the love of Christ to those we find unlovable. Please, think about what you might add to the list.
Remember, from God’s point of view, you and I are the Unlovables, but He loved us anyway - so much, He gave His only Son to save us.
Ó 2006 C. E. Briggs
"Arise, take the young Child and His mother,
When he [Joseph] arose, he took the young Child and
His mother by night and departed for
This man called Joseph continues to demonstrate that he is an amazing man of God.
Any man who has ever been engaged to be married would surely be fascinated to hear of the faith of Joseph. Joseph trusted God as his driving and guiding force. But it is not just his faith that is worth imitating – it is his love.
Joseph dearly loved this woman, Mary, the mother of Jesus. His heart was not the kind that looks for a woman that will meet his needs. Joseph clearly loved Mary and sincerely desired to serve her needs. Jut look at it! All of his actions speak of special attention to caring for this woman and her Child.
So it was not just his Godly faith that got him through what must have been the biggest trial of his life. It was also his Godly love.
Ó 2006 C. E. Briggs
Mt 2:19-20 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child's life are dead."
In our last devotional study, we considered the
love of Joseph for his wife and his Son.
They were escaping from the evil Herod who issued an order to slaughter
the male infants of
How can an all-good, all-powerful God allow evil to exist?
The answer has always been one word – love. I know – sounds insane. But consider: We all know that forced love is not possible – it is a contradiction. Genuine responsive love requires genuine choice. And frankly, man chose badly. This is the kicker! Because, the love of God never compromises the justice of God. Love without justice is not love at all. It is a hideous deception.
Therefore, the consolation for us regarding the evil King Herod (and all other tragedy) is actually justice, and justice delayed is not justice denied.
But that presents another problem. Not only does Herod deserve justice; so do I; so do you. I need another consolation. I need mercy!
I think we all sense it at times. This life is a rehearsal for eternal destiny. Jesus told us to repent and believe the Good News that Christ died for our sins and rose again. He has satisfied the justice of God! That is mercy!
People naturally think from an earthly perspective – not from God’s. The world sees love from a twisted personal viewpoint. But consider this:
v If you were a being of pure (divine) love and perfect justice, and you wished to share that love in a reciprocating manner, would you create a being with genuine choice? (Hint: Anything else is just a robot – fake – like nothing at all.)
v Of course, for choice to be genuine, the potentiality of evil must exist.
v And since you would be all-knowing, what do you do, knowing the creature will choose sin and self-destruction?
v Being an all-just person, you would judge the sin.
v But being an all-loving person, you would provide a redemptive plan for those who desire rescue (wouldn’t you). Again, choice is never violated.
Can justice and mercy prevail any other way?
I deserve justice. Herod deserves justice. We all deserve justice.
But I choose mercy, by surrendering to the Savior, Jesus, Who received my punishment on the Cross. Have you chosen mercy?
Ó 2006 C. E. Briggs